Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Trade Show Still Plays Big Role for L.A. Businesses

Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Trade Show Still Plays Big Role for L.A. Businesses
VR Vision: Attendees check out virtual reality headsets at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

While Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. might no longer be launching their products at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, the event still has appeal for a number of L.A. companies – mainstays and upstarts alike.

Case in Point: Evollve Inc., a Redondo Beach-based toy robot startup, has paid tens of thousands of dollars for a booth at the trade show each of the last three years – a price its chief executive, Nader Hamda, said is well worth it.

“For us, it’s near and dear to our hearts, because we launched at CES in 2014,” he said, noting that the company went to the trade show that year with not a single Google search result to its name. But when Hader and company left Las Vegas after unveiling the company’s smart robot product that year, more than 250,000 results turned up online.

“It was one of the most powerful experiences, in terms of the internet and immediate awareness,” he said.

More than 165,000 people are expected to attend CES, which will run Jan. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, along with more than 6,000 members of the press all hungrily looking for the next big thing.

That’s what makes the event such a great showcase for small to midsize companies looking to gain media exposure for their products, said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of the Consumer Technology Association, the trade group that runs the show.

“It’s four days of nonstop people coming through,” she said.

More than 3,800 exhibitors are expected this year, including Gardena electric car manufacturer Faraday Future; Playa Vista connected-device maker Belkin International Inc.; West L.A.’s AIO Robotics, a 3-D printing manufacturer; and Evollve.

For its part, Faraday has been teasing the public with the unveiling of its electric car prototype at the upcoming event. The company’s executives could be hoping that buzz from the CES event will redirect attention from negative developments, including the stoppage of construction at its Nevada factory and reports that the auto maker is short on cash.

Faraday officials did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to mass media appeal, CES is a place to efficiently meet with retailers and work on deals, said Evollve’s Hamda. The company’s Ozobot Evo toy can be controlled through a smartphone app and also helps kids learn to code. Evollve paid for a private booth at this year’s convention to discuss potential distribution and merchandising agreements.

“It’s really all about relationships,” he said.

The average CES attendee has approximately 30 meetings at the show, said Chupka.

“If they didn’t come to CES, they would either have to travel to visit those people or find other mechanism to meet those prospective partners,” she said.

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