CES 2017 was a first for Toymail. If you aren't familiar with CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) it's the largest global gathering focused on showcasing the latest in technology and innovation. Almost 4,000 exhibitors take up over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. Roughly 175,000 industry professionals converging in Las Vegas every January.
We hosted our booth alongside 600 other startups at the Eureka Park Marketplace. It was absolutely insane! You had companies exhibiting everything from a wireless robotic button pusher, to smart underwear to smart tea (totally true). It seemed like if you could slap "smart" in front of any product, there was a booth dedicated to it at CES.
Our booth was a little bit different. Rather than trying to make a product that looks sleek and tech-y, we had a tabletop of stuffed animals. The friendly green, blue and yellow colors acting like runway lights in the dark, guiding people through the "smart" tech haze, right to our booth. We would see them coming across the aisle, hands outstretched, ready to touch, squeeze and hug our products.
"What are the guys? What do they do?" And then we'd tell them that these are the Talkies and you connected them to a home WiFi network, download our app and can chat back and forth with kids. Not only that, but you can invite up to 10 friends and family members to connect with your child. Kids like them because first and foremost they're a toy (duh) and second because they feel empowered that they can have the independence to reach out to loved ones themselves.
I wish we had taken a video camera because as soon as you explain who we are and what Talkies do, there was this "A-ha!" look that came over every single person's face! "Wait, there's a way I can connect with kids I normally can't reach and it's totally secure, safe and screen free! Can I buy this one right here?"
We felt like a beacon because unlike the smart boxer briefs, the Talkies were a fit for almost every person that walked buy - parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - almost everyone there had a close connection to a child under 10.
Marla, Samir and I spent 4 days telling everyone how they could use our technology to bring their families closer together, watching countless adults smile at the sound of a Weensie burping in their ear, recording funny saying into the Teensies and, of course, trying to bribe us so they could buy a Talkie to take home straight from the show.