CES 2014 – Raj’s picks from the show

I just spent last week at CES in Las Vegas and had an absolutely amazing time. This years trip to CES was a little different as I had access to Publicis Groupe events and private parties. Needless to say, I’m just now recovering from the parties!

Here are some of the highlights from CES for me.

  • Qualcomm’s Gimbal Platform – This is a context awareness platform using beacon technology as well as mobile app to create pretty much any awareness situation you can think of.
  • Cisco Retail Solutions – Cisco had some amazing concepts showing how they could connect the entire retail experience with beacon’s, tracking camera’s, and some pretty amazing store level and executive analytic’s (user foot track patterns, inventory, transactions, etc.). They had partnered with Aero Scout for the beacon technology.
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  • Street Line – Pretty cool stuff when it comes to parking and other data for urban areas. Saw I nice demo with them and Cisco.
  • Google Fiber – I was lucky enough to attend a private meeting with Google to learn more about new products in the market. Outside of getting a nice pair of Google glasses, one of the best road maps I saw was for Google Fiber. Alot of us are familiar with Google Fiber, so I won’t bore you with the details, checkout the site. What’s amazing is the approach Google is taking to dominate the Fiber network not only in the US, but in other countries that have poor infrastructure or countries that have a monopoly (higher prices as a result). If you don’t own Google stock, you should, this one division will dominate the world in 5 years and give Google a diversified portfolio outside of just search. Some interesting terminologies I learned from Google; they call neighborhoods “Fiber Hoods”, their retail stores are called “Fiber Space”. The Google VP in-charge (Milo Medin) of the division was telling me that he has seen credit ratings for cities increase because of Google Fiber (installed city), he also told me that if a house in a Fiber Hood signs up for Google Fiber (free internet), that account stays with the house, so if you sell the house the new owner gets Google Fiber as well, this helps home values and rental values. Not to mention, a city that helps bring in Google Fiber (make it easy for Google in install) gets free fiber to schools, libraries, etc. Milo was clear to point out that he only goes to cities that make it easy for him, it doesn’t matter about the size of the city. Amazing stuff from Google, including how they roll out and install a Fiber Hood. Continue reading

What’s on my current pre-order product list

Over the last 12 to 16 months I per-ordered a number of products and have received them. In general I’ve been really happy with what I got. Pre-ordering is becoming more common, but I’d say that I’d never really done it until I went to CES a few years ago and got excited about specific products I saw. What’s accelerated this even more is sites like Kick Starter and others that have introduced new products/ideas and built confidence in purchasing products pre-release/pre-review.

Here are my top 3 pre-order products I’ve received:

  • Nest – Love it and works perfectly in my house.
  • DropCam – I have 2 of these in my house and have given them out as gifts.
  • Leap Motion – This has been OK, it’s not delivered on the wow for me, but I enjoy using it as entertainment.

Here are my My current pre-orders:

  • Coin – I’m really excited about this card. I hate all the cards I carry in my wallet. Hoping into get this summer 2014.
  • Airo –  Man, this is cool, I’m not into fitness, but know what my body is consuming and tracking this all to help me live well simplifies how I track this and why I won’t do this today. Hoping to get this in fall 2014.
  • Tesla Model X – I’ve been excited about this SUV. I put in my pre-order in early 2012. This is a big purchase item for a pre-order that I haven’t seen/touched. I can’t wait. Hoping to get this in early 2014, we’ll see.
  • August – I loved the design and simplicity of this home lock system. Lots of new products coming out, I’m hoping this one is the winner and it simplifies life again. Hoping to get this in early 2014.

What else should I consider?

Pave – Investing in an indivdual rather than a start-up

My friend and old business partner, Jeff Hilimire, recently sent me an article about Pave, the crowdfunding platform for investing in people. Pave’s approach differs from crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter that focus on the idea or product where you fund the startup and get ownership of the product or similar. Alternatively, Pave allows you to invest in an individual and you get a share of their salary in the future (regardless of the company they work at or start-up they are involved with).

Pave’s approach of investing in the individual certainly resonates with me. Every start-up I’ve invested in has been mainly because of the people (founders, key employees, etc.) as opposed to the idea/product. Don’t get me wrong, the idea/product matters, but not as much as the people leading the effort that are on the ground day and night. You can have a great idea, but it still takes a special type of person to make a start-up successful. So my rule over the years has been to first make sure I like and believe in the people involved before I look at the idea/product in depth.

As I perused Pave to possibly find individuals to invest in, I came across an issue that’s put me off doing anything with Pave or similar crowdfunding platforms. Although some of the folks where inspirational, everyone seemed so packaged up and put together. I almost felt like I was shopping at Tiffany’s for expensive, perfectly boxed up jewelry. A lot of the individuals looked great, knew what to say, how to act, and were all shining stars in their own right, but I came to the conclusion that these folks would do great in life regardless of my money or involvement. They’ve generated enough interest on sites like Pave and have already learned how to market themselves. I discovered  I am more interested in the diamond in the rough; someone who has all the potential but hasn’t been discovered (at least not in a shop I can browse in with the rest of the world).  I have more fun, and find more value, meeting and discovering people the old fashion way, and generating my own value as a result of what I see in the individuals I come across through my life.

Does anyone share my point of view or disagree?