Packed inside an SUV and heading to Las Vegas, employees of CaptureProof, a San Francisco startup, are part of a time-honored technology industry tradition — attending the giant consumer electronics show that takes over the Las Vegas strip every January.
Starting Monday, more than 180,000 people are expected to attend CES — the show once know as the Consumer Electronics Show — with about one-third of them international visitors. There will be 4,000 exhibitors in every conceivable tech category — gaming, self-driving cars, digital health, digital sports, drones, robots. Outside official CES, many companies set up their own events in hotels throughout Las Vegas.
The result is a crush of people and cars, a cacophony of sounds and logos, as everyone tries to get each others' attention.
And that is true for CaptureProof, as well. This is its fourth year at CES, the only consumer-focused show that it attends. The small company, which offers an app to help doctors and patients to visually track symptoms, is a regular at medical and investor shows.
But it has to go to CES, says the firm's CEO. There's potential partners and clients to meet — and the possibility that a conversation begins on the convention floor that leads to other business in a new direction.
"Every innovation lead of every company walks through CES and spends at least 24 hours there," said Meghan Conroy, CaptureProof's CEO.
Costing $4,500, the 10-foot by 10-foot booth in the Sands Expo will include a make-believe doctor's waiting room, with old magazines and uncomfortable chairs.
With a message that no one loves doctor's waiting rooms, the company pitches itself as a more efficient way for doctors and patients to connect outside an in-person visit.
At its booth, a giant smartphone (really a 43-inch TV screen) will show the CaptureProof app as the more appealing alternative to waiting around.
"Getting the right patient to the right doctor is what we are talking about at CES," Conroy said.
Packing away food, water
Once at CES, the CaptureProof staff has to be self-sustaining, much like going camping, said Conroy.
She has put thought into the details — the thickness of the booth's floor padding, tables that need to double as storage space, the amount of snacks and water to stow away. The total cost to the company, including the booth, the carpet pads, the staff, hotel and travel is $12,000.
Rising above the fray
From prior years, the company has learned it has to put its logos and company name at least four feet off the ground — to be seen above the masses of people.
Part of the marketing strategy is giving away things affixed with the firm's logo — bags, pens, stickers — so that people walk around advertising the firm.
Like many who have been to CES, Conroy acknowledges, "It's awful."
But she adds: "Everyone is there. You never know who you will meet."