It was my first CES trade show, also my first time in Vegas and I must say it was as anticipated: intense and overwhelming with too little sleep in between demos in the desert and time spent at our booth with, either enthusiastic medias, cool backers or people interested and discovering our product for the first time.
Coming from an action sport background, I’m used to go to tradeshows focusing solely on Outdoor Activities, tradeshows with worldwide audience like the CES but where I have my habits and can count numerous friends working within the action sport industry, either as pro riders, medias, creative filmers or photographers, event managers or brands. Going to Vegas for the CES brought me out of my comfort zone, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect or could happen here. Let me tell you that I don’t regret a second of it.
When we took the decision to be at CES few months back, we knew we would have to be ready, product wise, to show an evolution of the prototypes versions we used during and after the KS campaign. Software side of things was no exception and we wanted also to reveal the first design of our HEXO+ app, from our mind to the screen.
With long days and nights spent working on the project, talents hired to complete our team of co founders, we made our best to always be as close as possible from our community needs. And guess what, it seems, like always, that hard work combined with passion is a good mic, here we were, in Fabulous Las Vegas and its outstanding unique atmosphere. It was with a mixed feeling of confidence and nervousness that I was stepping out of the Airport in the company of the other cofounders. Our baby rocked and we wanted to make sure people would get the chance to notice it and figure it out by themselves.
Confidence was in the air, built up from the feedbacks and inputs our backers fed us with over those past months, from tests and filming sessions we could do with ambassadors and discussions with our connections within the movie maker scene, we worked hard to get to that point for the CES. Although we exchanged constantly with people on how they are willing to use our product and how we see it happening, it was difficult to imagine we would have received such great responses since day 1.
We focused our effort to make sure people would not leave our booth without thinking, the HEXO+ self driven camera was made to deliver amazing aerial footage without the need to be an expert. The app on phones displayed on our booth, The Freedom of Movement video we released on day 1 of the CES reached its goal. People could totally see them selves running in the nature, skating, Stand Up Paddling or biking and get footage from it without focusing on anything beside doing their activities.
I also felt nervousness, and I believed it had the do with our busy schedule of demos. Although I knew from experience and from spending time using our HEXO+ that our system works well and will only work better as we’re still improving it on a weekly basis, if huge established company such as Microsoft or Apple fail to demo properly from time to time although they have access to unlimited resources dedicated to development, anything could happen! And this was stressful, believe me.
Our public and main medias demos went as smooth as they could have and stress transformed into fun days after days. Bloomberg, BBC click chasing a sand dune buggy, TechCrunch on a skateboard, The Verge framing BMW latest model, etc… We had good laughs also reading that young journalist tale, lost in the desert for whom our demo didn’t go as planned, few hours later we did the BBC one which happen to blow their minds with our camera movements library and the CES crowd favourite camera move, 360° Selfie. BBC had another demo scheduled right after us and finally decided to skip it to get various footage with ours. That was a good sign.
The coolest demo happened on day 3 with the help from the boosted boards guys. We met them on a parking lot in front of the CES, Tony Hawk was around and cool and they joined us for a demo the next day. Sylvain one of our co-founder enjoyed tang some laps and after an interested chat with Tony, snapped an old school selfie – understand not autonomous and aerial 😉
We cruised as a gang and even get into wearing costume to spice things up. The whole thing was like a friends party, we even get a visit from the Cops Helicopter, intrigued by what was going on, they left as fast as they came in, as Fun isn’t illegal in Vegas!
Over the week, our latest HEXO+ prototype had been put to test and in action with electric skateboards, sand buggy and one of the latest model from BMW. The testing in the field went as expected but for some reason it was anyway a relief to cross that of our list. Just like the feeling I had back when I was a student, had spent time studying and was logically graduating. That feeling of entire satisfaction came only after the last demo.
The other live “test” was to meet and discuss with people about our app and ways to use our product. Some of the other drone companies don’t seem to feel really concerned by making their product easy to use, with an interface which won’t require to study a manual for few hours before you get an idea of which combination of buttons you would need to press in order to get your drone in the air. Speaking of drone, it was funny to see our audience totally impressed by our vision. Be aware, we don’t sell a drone, we provide our customers an easy to use system, a solution to self capture aerial footage with no specific drone knowledge required.
People we could talked to were as enthusiast as kids discovering a Xmas present when they understood only using a smartphone would be necessary to get footage as discovered on our video. On site they could try our app, and getting to see them pick, use and try some of the various camera movement we proposed in our library confirmed our app is giving them an user experience which is on par with their expectation.
The demos went well, backers we met were as enthusiastic to meet than we were and the media feedback was off the hook. Proof is we get awarded not once, not twice, but three times during the tradeshow, with the Showstopper award envisioneering innovation and design award, BEST of CES 2015 by Iphone Life and BEST DRONE of CES award by Videomaker. All in all, we couldn’t have make more out of our first edition of the CES, Thank you Las Vegas, See you next year!
Now I’m looking forward to early February where the crew and myself will be meeting up the European action sport community at ISPO in Munich, Germany to present our HEXO+, awarded already ISPO Brandnew award in the accessories category.