ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than 200 attendees from top technology companies, start-ups and investment firms energetically gathered to network, learn, share and have fun at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® Innovate! conference held earlier this week at the Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Thought-provoking panels, a keynote by Nolan Bushnell, the launch of key market research from CEA and one-on-one mentoring opportunities stood as just a sampling of event highlights. Designed to connect and inform leaders in the consumer electronics industry and showcase the latest innovations that are trending, disrupting and impacting the way we live, work and play, the 2014 CEA Innovate! conference ran through October 2.
Innovate! began on Tuesday, September 30 with a mentoring hour held by seasoned industry veterans at CEA who interpreted technology trends and answered questions about market strategies. CEA members and conference participants then networked and connected in a casual gathering to help facilitate the following days of panels and announcements.
The opening session at Innovate!, Five Disruptive Techs to Watch, was moderated by CEA Senior Vice President of Communications and Strategic Relationships Jeff Joseph with the following panelists: Richard Doherty, research director of The Envisioneering Group; Paul Singh, Founder and CEO of Disruption Corp.; and Lindsey Turrentine, vice president and editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews. Based on CEA’s annual publication, Five Technology Trends to Watch, the session introduced the topics with man-on-the-street videos of consumers filmed in Washington, DC to gauge their familiarity with the five technology trends: Big Data, The Rise of the Machines (Internet of Things, robotics and driverless cars), digital health and the quantified self, entertainment and immersive content including augmented reality, and business models in the innovation economy.
On Wednesday morning, the Startup Success Stories panel featured entrepreneurs who examined the key ingredients for success and discussed their best practices for building company culture, hiring the right people and raising funds. Attitude, celebration, people, passion and perseverance were among the words described by the panelists as integral to their success. Frank Gruber, CEO, Tech Cocktail, also highlighted effective tactics that helped disruptive innovators including GrubHub, Homesnap, Uber and Zappos build their brands.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), kicked off the annual member luncheon meeting at CEA Innovate! highlighting CEA’s accomplishments on behalf of the consumer electronics industry this year, including the association’s new member initiatives, such as the growth in CEA’s digital health and fitness division and its CE Demo Day promotions. He also highlighted CEA’s public policy activities surrounding the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming spectrum auction and efforts to secure trade agreements, as well as immigration and patent litigation reform. While he expressed disappointment with the lack of congressional activity on patent reform, he vowed, “CEA is not giving up on fighting this issue.” He also noted the growth of the CEA Foundation, and CEA’s success in promoting innovation across all of its programs, events and initiatives.
During the luncheon, Shapiro announced Olloclip and Reza Rahi as the 2014 winners of CEA’s Innovation Entrepreneur Awards. He then introduced Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, who spoke about the need for everyone to embrace their passion since “intensity makes the world go” and how disruptive technologies will require the majority of employees to redefine themselves over the next ten years. He encouraged companies to find a place for obnoxious employees who can help make the company better and cautioned that “agreement is not always the best way to create the best products.” Bushnell encouraged the audience to read three to five science fiction books a year and explained, “I would like to live in the future and the best way to do so is to invent the future.”
The Disruptive Tech: CE Opportunities in 3D Printing session focused on the bright future ahead for this emerging technology sector, as well as the challenges of moving from the early adopter market to a mass consumer audience. The panelists agreed the complex ecosystem of 3D printing software, hardware and materials presents an especially exciting opportunity for retailers. As Adam Levin, CEO of Levin Consulting explained, “Every retailer we talk with wants to be in this category because it drives traffic, increases revenue and taps into the market of printing consumables,” but those same retailers have concerns about demonstrating the technology’s value to their shoppers. Lucas Matheson, president and CEO of Pinshape, said consumers will eventually come to embrace 3D printing because, “The magic…over the next 20-30 years is customization – empowering a generation of consumers to personalize unique products and value them more than the designs of someone else.”
Kate Drane, Hardware Category Lead, Indiegogo led a crowdfunding workshop on Wednesday afternoon. Drane described Indiegogo’s goal as, “rewarding people who are willing to put in hard work and connecting them with people who care.” She explained how “we are in the golden age of funding and the sky is the limit. People want to see what happens and to have input into the process.” Drane discussed how crowdfunding will soon be known just as “funding” and that it empowers people to directly support the innovations, ideas and causes they like.
Wednesday’s panel session, “Disruptive Tech: The Expanding Market Potential for Wearables”, looked at the trends and investments in this rapidly growing category. Moderated by CEA’s Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac, speakers included L’Oreal’s Guive Balooch, MC10’s Isaiah Kacyvenski and Qualcomm Life’s Kabir Kasargod. The group discussed competition, partnerships and creating open ecosystems. L’Oreal’s Balooch said, “Smaller companies can be a threat. They focus on one specific idea and it’s hard for a big company to do that.” He added, “Sometimes we invest in companies, sometimes we partner with them. It depends on the relationship. We recently acquired a company that creates customized solutions. We are interested in companies that are innovating on the hardware side.”
Great PR on a Shoestring Budget featured a panel of communications professionals along with present and former journalists who shared their best public relations practices for garnering coverage without a lot, or any budget to spend. The session concluded with a look at the low and no budget media outreach opportunities that CEA offers to its member companies and International CES exhibitors.
Thursday morning's panel sessions began with the "Five Hottest Categories of Investment in the Next 18 Months." Moderated by Stephen Kann, managing director, Bridgewater Capital Corporation, the panel included Gregory Borchardt, managing director, Caerus Ventures, LLC; Brian Cohen, chairman, New York Angels; and Kate Drane, hardware category lead, Indiegogo. During this session, the panelists agreed that the benefits of a technology to consumers must be clear for a product category or specific investment opportunity to be “hot.” The panel selected and debated the investment opportunities for several disruptive technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, sensors, mobile awareness, privacy and security.
In the final Innovate! session, the 2014 Holiday Sales and Forecast presentation, CEA forecast a 2.5 percent increase in holiday spending on technology products this year – reaching the highest level of consumer spending on consumer electronics since CEA began tracking holiday spending in 1994. “Our consumer sentiment numbers are up, and they’ve been tracking up on a year-to-year basis,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research, CEA. CEA also reported that 54 percent of consumers say they’re likely or very likely to buy tech products online this holiday season – increasing from 45 percent in 2013 – while 77 percent are likely or very likely to purchase at brick-and-mortar stores. “The propensity to buy online has hit a new peak,” said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis, CEA, “But there is still a ringing endorsement from consumers for brick-&-mortar stores.” According to CEA, more than 150 million U.S. adults plan to give tech gifts this holiday season, which is consistent with last year’s total.
Information about the CEA Innovate! Event can be found at: http://www.ce.org/Blog/Articles/2014/October/Innovators-and-Disruptors-Gather-at-CEA-Innovate
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent technology trade association representing the $203 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Follow CES online at www.CESweb.org and through social media: http://www.ce.org/social
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