Accompanied by my trusty sidekick and Beehive Startups founder Clint Betts, we sought truth of the highest order — what Utah startups chose to brave wind and weather, trek hundreds of miles to display their wares, all while attempting to survive the general debauchery of Las Vegas in the process?
We departed for CES 2016 armed with two duffel bags, McFlurries, and a blind belief that our life experiences had prepared us for the rat race of the world’s largest consumer electronics show. Accompanied by my trusty sidekick and Beehive Startups founder Clint Betts, we sought truth of the highest order — what Utah startups chose to brave wind and weather, trek hundreds of miles to display their wares, all while attempting to survive the general debauchery of Las Vegas in the process?
First, you must understand that CES is enormous and now that I think about it, that isn’t even an adequate description. CES amounts to a sprawling metropolis, held across multiple sites ranging from The Venetian to the Las Vegas Convention Center, holding the hearts and souls of 170,000 attendees and 3,800 exhibitors in its warm embrace. Accompanied by my trusty navigator Clint Betts, we attempted to sort through this mess and find some of the Utah companies breathing life into our tech and startup scene. After one day our fitbits malfunctioned, unable to calculate the innumerable steps we compiled from dawn until dusk. Though we felt naked, robbed of step counting and sleep cycle data, Clint and I marched on, weaving through robots and smart pianos, virtual reality and actual reality, until at long last, we found the treasure we were looking for.
We came across the house Vivint built. I mean this literally — Vivint actually built a house that was stationed at CES, an ode to past accomplishments and a shout-out to their ongoing transition from sales company to bona fide tech company. Clint and I browsed through recent innovations (a two-way talk, one-touch capability camera called the Vivint Ping; the incorporation of Amazon Echo into the Vivint Sky platform) and sat down with CMO Jeff Lyman, learning of Vivint’s vision for a bright-orange future. We were also graciously given cups of vegetables, which would prove to be the only good thing either of us put into our bodies over the course of five straight days.
We came across the booth of Owlet Baby Care. You probably recall the recent launch of their flagship product, the Owlet Smart Sock, designed to technologically monitor the wellbeing of infants. At CES, they added another notch to their belt, honored by Engadget as the Best Startup of 2016. This is a high honor for the Provo-based startup, mainly because standing out at CES seems nearly impossible when you comprehend it’s just a giant sea of tech-infused people and places.
We came across the workout safe haven of iFit. Before I start describing what was happening, watch this video:
— Julia Wang (@thejuliawang) January 6, 2016
People were dancing, working out, and carrying out all sorts of shenanigans on stage, a strategy that was implemented for multiple days and left me feeling winded from just watching. The Logan-based company announced the debut of iFit Coach, a mobile app that replaces your trainer and designs a daily game plan based on exercise, activity, sleep, and nutrition that can be monitored through various iFit wearables.
We would come upon many more Utah companies in our travels (Veristride, PhoneSoap, Purch, Skullcandy, WhiteClouds) and miss out on others simply because our feet couldn’t continue to walk (Zagg, Goal Zero, Jaybird, Ogio) — we were the CES equivalent of Kobe Bryant, past glories in the rearview, betrayed by our bodies in the ultimate hour of need. Unlike Kobe, we will have next year to learn from our mistakes.
Clint and I departed from CES 2016 with two duffel bags, Mcflurries, and our dignity hanging behind us in tattered sails. Walking the streets of Vegas for five days takes a toll on any man or woman, I’m ashamed to admit that neither of us were physically prepared for the intense regiment of CES. Nonetheless, we accomplished what we set out to do — attend CES and see some of the Utah-based companies that are helping to move our tech and startup scene into the national spotlight.
We will be releasing a Beehive Podcast later this week chronicling our journey at CES 2016, featuring interviews with many Utah companies who attended. Prepare yourselves now.