Monday Morning Quarterbacking – Before/After CES

By Mike Michalowicz
With the privilege of watching the efforts of Lightglove, H20 Audio, Bug Labs and Newton Peripherals leading up to and at the CES event – I can now do some Monday morning quarterbacking. They all walked away from CES with varying degrees of success. The question is; how are they going to build on their momentum? Here is my after game analysis:


The Lightglove Analysis


1. Bruce and MG have a clear passion for what they are doing. But that doesn’t mean they are the best spokespersons for the company.

2. They were given a golden opportunity to do a 30 second pitch on national TV – It was a disaster (I sound a little like Dr. Doug here). They summarized the opportunity to the angel investor as having fun and being long term friends. Yuck!!!

3. They are relentless and have proven they will never give up. The never die mentality is a foundation for success.


How Lightglove Can Turn This Into A Major Win

1. Their issue is focus. I know, I know, focus is major reoccurring theme on The Big Idea. But without it the big deals won’t happen. Bruce and MG need to focus on what they are great at, innovation. They need to keep pushing the product to the next level.

2. They need to get someone onboard who is a great spokesperson. As Bruce and MG continue to innovate, they need a great preacher to go out and preach.

3. When it comes to Angel Investors, the word “angel” is meaningless. An investor is an investor is an investor. Investors want to make a great return and want to minimize their risk. Lightglove needs to talk about money, returns and how to control risk. They sure as heck don’t need to talk about being friends and having fun at this stage.

4. Never quit. Just because there isn’t a match with one investor, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a match for all investors. They need to keep moving ahead with their chins up and smiles on their faces. Bruce and MG have already proven they aren’t quitters, so they better not stop now.

The Lightglove Bottom Line

They are far from being down and out. But their history of struggling to raise money points to the fact they need to adjust their strategy and put people in the company that are working in areas of strength in. They have a cool product, they have passion, and they are Virginia Tech grads. With that mix, they are destined for success.

For more on Lightglove's Story, check out their profile

Next Up: Bug Labs

The Bug Labs Analysis

1. Peter can talk geek to geeks. This is the key for building an undercurrent of support in the technology industry.

2. How important is blogging? There is a Blog Bus at CES! 'Nuff said.

3. I didn’t see Peter paying much mind to the big shelf retailers. That’s a good thing!

How Bug Labs Can Ramp This Into Big Time Growth

1. Peter has set the foundation for major momentum. He has presented his stuff to the blogggers and they are talking about it – to me that’s a MAJOR win. Peter also has big time credibility with exposure through The Big Idea and Entrepreneur Magazine. This mix of PR is powerful, he just needs to keep the momentum going.

2. Now that he has the blogggers talking, he needs to get more of them talking more often. The key to successful blogging momentum is not marketing your product but instead providing information that the blogging community can truly benefit from. In short, educate don’t advertise.

3. I still think the name “BugLabs” is a bad one. Bug makes me think of a defective computer system or a virus. Peter needs to create a name for the product that represents building something geeky - he can use the name change to announce a new version of the BugLabs’ product and continue the PR momentum.

The Bug Labs Bottom Line

Peter clearly has a very niche product. He is talking to the right people now – the blogggers. If he spends 80% of his sales time building the blogger community and 20% of his time building traditional PR credibility, he is going to start moving product… fast.

For more on Bug Labs' story, check out Peter Semmelhack's Profile

Next Up: H2O Audio



The H20 Audio Analysis

1. H20 has grown rapidly on being focused. Kristian needs to shift gears now and realize that the message and the product all changes when it becomes a “stuff the shelves” strategy.

2. Radio Shack is big time. I wouldn’t be mentioning Best Buy in the same breath.

How H20 Can Become a Major Brand

1. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings. Very few products ever get to discussions with big retailers and a smaller few ever get selected. Radio Shack said it is willing to do the deal, but Kristian needs to still tackle the terms. The discussions that go on after CES are really going to be the make or break for this opportunity.

2. The game has changed. When Kristian is talking with Radio Shack he must talk to their needs and not preempt it with the end consumer’s needs. And he better never, ever imply to Radio Shack that they are a stepping stone to Best Buy. This deal better be a win for Radio Shack, or it will be a loss for H20.

3. It isn’t about surfers any more. Now that Kristian’s products are going on the shelves at Radio Shack, the consumer has changed. I mean, how many surfers hang out at Radio Shack? Kristian better heed Radio Shack’s direction and supply a product that serves the needs of a Radio Shack consumer, not extreme sports.

The H20 Audio Bottom Line

Welcome to the big time! This is one of the most challenging stages of business growth, so H20 better proceed carefully. As they convert from an extreme sport focus to a big time retail shelf focus they run two major risks. First, the extreme sports consumers may see H20 as “selling out.” Second, Radio Shack will need flexibility and adjustments to their needs. If H20 can navigate these turbulent seas, they may just become a household name.

For more on H2O Audio's story, check out Kristian's profile

Next Up: Newton Peripherals (MoGo)



The Newton Peripherals Analysis

1. Newton was on the stage front and center at CES, and now they have an amazing commercial to boot.

2. Matt is firing on all cylinders – great product, strong PR, and has an opportunity to leverage next level advertising.

How Newton Can Keep Trucking

1. Newton needs to stay true to their core competency. Newton clearly knows they are all about on-the-go technical convenience. They need to make sure all their messaging stays in front of the right people – business travelers.

2. Now that they have an awesome commercial, they need to get it playing time. Matt shouldn’t waste his time or money trying to get it on TV. Instead, it should be all over YouTube, his own website, and other sites specific to business travelers.

3. Time to build more alliances. Newton may want to build strong relationships with complimentary vendors such as laptop manufactures and on-the-go vendors such as business luggage folks. Maybe Matt could even get some web time on their sites with his new advertisement.

The Newton Bottom Line

Newton is running a consistent and balanced growth campaign. This is not the time to become complacent (actually it never is). Matt needs to keep the balanced campaign going and ensure that he is talking to his target market. I can’t wait to see him leverage his new ad, done right it will open more doors. I just gotta say it is a really cool commercial – then again, I am a little biased, I love AC/DC.

For more on Newton Peripherals and Matt Westover, check out his profile!

Questions? Comments? BigIdeaCES@CNBC.com