The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the biggest consumer tech trade show and the most influential tech event of the year, organised by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
With a history of over 55 years, CES 2023 surpassed the CTA’s expectations for this post-pandemic year, as it attracted over 115,000 industry attendees and more than 3,200 exhibitors (of which 1,000 were startups) – many of these showed innovations in areas such as digital health, sustainability, transportation and mobility, Web3, and more.
As usual, Gallium Ventures was in attendance to support clients, meet journalists and soak up the tech-mania, but this year our cohort included CES first-timers Patricia Mihail and Setra Raberahona.
Attending CES is intense and can be a little daunting, so insights into what to expect when you’re there can make a real difference to your CES experience. Fresh off the flight and still a little jet lagged, we’ve cajoled Patricia and Setra into sharing their experience of being present at CES for the first time.
- Tell us three words that sum up CES
Setra: Discovery, Innovation, Walk
Patricia: Connection, Excitement, Imagination
- What was your CES 2023 highlight?
Setra: It’s outside the event but, dining and having fun with the Chipolo team was refreshing throughout the Las Vegas frenemy. It’s alway nice to meet, talk, and spend time outside of professional context with the teams we work with.
Patricia: At CES, I was so happy to meet in person and to be able to hug the wonderful teams from Chipolo, WowWee, ShowStoppers, as well as many lovely journalists, after mainly communicating via emails/calls/messages/Slack etc. We are in contact daily, thanks to technology, but – for me – hanging out together in real life was (and is) one of the most precious (and fun) experiences one could ever wish for!
Outside of CES… watching the Fountains of Bellagio music and light show for the first time was pretty magical, I must say. Took me back to that great, iconic scene towards the end of “Ocean’s Eleven”, when the members of Danny Ocean’s crew are lined up in front of The Bellagio and the fountains start, as Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” softly plays in the background…
- We know it’s difficult to choose, but what is the one piece of tech at CES that you really want to get your hands on?
Setra: The new product from Sennheiser: the Conversation Clear Plus headphones. In addition to being used for listening to music and audio, they also function as hearing aids. Their quality, functionality and intuitive app make this my favourite product of CES.
Patricia: Oh, this really is a tricky question, especially when it comes to an event like CES, where you literally find everything and anything! If I really must choose… I’d go with the wearable smart ring from Circular, this cool French health tech startup I saw at CES Unveiled. I tried it on and it was so light! Plus, it comes with a bunch of new and cool features. So, yeah, I’d love to get my hands on one (pun intended)!
- Why do you believe CES is an important event for the tech community?
Setra: Even though we live in an age of easy access to information and new technologies, it is important to have this kind of event to bring together a wide range of established companies and start-ups. Innovation is the nature of technology, but at a time when sustainability is a key issue, it is important to have this kind of event to also make these companies aware of the issue.
Patricia: From my perspective, the answer is right there in the question: CES is an important event for the tech community because it brings together that community in a way that few – if any other – do!
For about a week, give or take, at the beginning of every year, companies, vendors, distributors, retailers, and journalists travel from all over the world to Las Vegas to… connect with each other. From launching products/platforms to strengthening and developing business relationships, to putting companies face to face with the media – there are important benefits and wins on all parts.
- What advice would you give to someone that is attending CES for the first time?
Setra: During the event, make the most of your time and organise yourself as you will have little of it. If you come from a completely different time zone, be prepared to be tired when you return.
Patricia: As the world’s largest trade show for consumer technology, CES is spread across 2 million square feet (that’s more than double the size of Buckingham Palace!), with thousands of exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees! That is overwhelming even for ‘CES veterans’ – all the more so for first-timers.
With this in mind, try to stick to one-two locations per day, when you organise your schedule. Otherwise, you risk running around like a headless chicken, spending more time on waiting for transport and travelling, rather than on actually doing and seeing all the cool things and meeting all the great people.
If you’re travelling from outside the US, brace yourself for jet lag. Always carry water with you and make sure you wear comfortable shoes (there’s a LOT of walking – I think we’ve all surpassed our daily steps targets quite a few times!). Be curious. Make friends. Don’t forget to have fun. And… hope to see you next year!