If there’s one thing I learned from this past weekend, it’s that hatching retail and sponsorship ideas in your head is one thing. Another is when Rohan Marley, a potential business partner for the underdeveloped Tanzanian market, invites you to come by the House of Marley booth. Unfortunately for me, the retail and sponsorship ideas need haven’t been fleshed out on paper- nor backed with capital – and, the timing of arriving in Vegas on the last day of the 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show was simply off. Honestly, at this point, I simply look at Rohan as a potential mentor, since he did say “come by the house” at Natural Foods Expo. While I may be in lower Manhattan soon, it may actually be Rohan that needs to come by my daughter’s mother’s family house on Mbamba Bay of Lake Nyasa in southwest Tanzania. I was there in 2007 and saw a lot of land and opportunity.
CES is a doozy any way you look at it, and having a plan of action – i.e. appointments with companies you want to meet – is key. Otherwise, there’s an overload of audio and video to the point of ad nauseum. Which is why I got in Sunday morning and left Sunday afternoon, more interested in writing a book and working on poetry and music than dealing with the tech crowd.
Pinpointing specific companies en route to becoming a key online influencer is what I’ I’m about pushing forward with this blog and content for other outlets, hopefully. Besides Kenu and Yukuma, which I blogged about earlier, I liked Rivacase. Its bookshelf-styled booth made an instant visual impression and stood out because it didn’t carry electronic gadgets in Central Hall. As you’ll see from the quick video clip below, Rivacase – featuring a turtle on the log, or Terrapin, like the University of Maryland – is quite a simple company. It’s Dutch marketing and sales director was very nice and told me the company had 35 employees and sells in 50 countries, including Russia. It’s also looking to get some more accounts in South America, which I really hope they do. I have to browse through the catalog but, if the prices are right, I’m definitely a fan of this company … and not just because I am Ukrainian and so is the owner. Rivacase also has Russian-speaking sales and marketing director – who, get this, is responsible for Americas business! – and he milled about next to the Dutchman and myself. Peep the video:
The 2017 CES is also where I finally tried out VR or virtual reality. I put on a pair of goggles. It wasn’t much better than the 3D glasses you put on at a theater to watch a Disney movie with your 11-year-old, albeit I didn’t need those to enjoy my favorite movie of 2016 (“Queen of Katwe,” in which a friend, Alex “Saba Saba” Kiriya, has a song placement). What made the VR experience more fun was speaking with the Edison, New Jersey-based manufacturer rep whose favorite free VR app is from the New York Times. He knew how to position product, what can I say… and hope he checks out this blog (No, it’s not making money but I am just getting started after spending 10 months addressing the needs of Russian speaking DIRECTV customers during the post-AT&T acquisition era).
Struggle blogging notwithstanding, I had a decent foray into CES this year. The Gambia native who registered me as media and the young lady who handed him the plastic CES bag and goes to school in Maryland made registration seamless. I felt like a Kenyan politician right from onset, but hey, I am unapologetically Ukrainian and that’s something I am sure the audience at #UNPLUGDLA will hear tonight.