By Kristian Rauhala
Thoughts on CES:
There are deals and then there are BIG deals!!
Today was a BIG deal!
The past two weeks following our Big Idea show segment taping have been absolutely packed with business meetings, sales and marketing prep, budget planning for 2008, preparing for our participation for CES and MacWorld.
Flying to New York to meet Donny and to participate in the Big Idea Road to CES Series still seems like a dream in many ways. For the first time since I was introduced to Donny and the Big Idea, I have finally been able to come up for air, take a deep breath and say to myself, “Wow, we did it!”
We had two main objectives for CES, the first was to roll out our new product launch and generate press and sales momentum and the second was to meet with a big chain power buyer and get H2O Audio set with a new major retail partner.
Our new iN3 waterproof case for the Apple iPod nano 3rd gen attracted tremendous interest at the Showstoppers event. We have always enjoyed this media forum at CES and this year we got great print, web and broadcast coverage. We weren’t surprised by Showstoppers, but it is great to see that this is a consistently good event for us to meet with our favorite media contacts and to establish new relationships as well.
The surprise was the buyer! Since I founded H2O Audio, I have always pursued the big retail chains. Two years ago (at CES) we brought our first major account on board, having caught Apple’s attention on the show floor. But coming into 2008 we wanted another landmark partner such as Radio Shack, Best Buy or Circuit City. Getting face-to-face meetings with the real decision makers at these companies at CES is a major challenge. This year CNBC gave us the inside track using its connections to get H2O Audio to a table with Doug Lane – VP of Merchandising at Radio Shack.
Doug is a seasoned professional; he has tremendous marketing and product insight. He understands the importance of unique brand positioning. Both Radio Shack and H2O Audio share an uncompromising demand for product quality, reliability and performance.
Doug and I discussed the challenges to a partnership in detail. We also identified the mutual opportunities, based on our product concepts, sales targets and performance. It was a great meeting, but when Doug left the table Monday, I had no idea whether he was truly ready to put H2O Audio on a peg in Radio Shack.
I don’t believe in a lot of hype. I gave Doug the straight story on our market, our wins, and the exciting opportunities we have with the ever-growing demand for our iPod waterproof cases, waterproof headphones, iPhone cases and our cables. When we sat down yesterday on the set of CNBC (to film what now to me was the obvious Superbowl of entrepreneur efforts at CES) I could only hope Doug had come away from our meeting as excited as I to get our partnership started.
I held my breath with Donny and Dr Doug telling me I should be more aggressive in my presentation and Doug Lane saying he had some concerns. Deal or no deal? Finally Doug said, “We want that fishbowl point of purchase on our counter and we want to get these products in front of our customers.”
The last two weeks flashed in front of my eyes as Dough extended his hand and shaking mine told me that Radio Shack wanted H2O Audio in its stores. It took until late last night before I finally told myself it may have all been a dream, but it was a real American dream.
2008 will have loads of new opportunities and challenges, but we have come into this year a Winner and ready to meet them.
Thoughts on the Big Idea:
The Big Idea is absolutely one of the most insightful and relevant business programs produced. It is a reality TV style approach to telling the real pains and gains story the new business owners and entrepreneurs live every day.
I feel H2O Audio's story is one that exemplifies turning passion and vision into business success and now we get to share that story and help inspire millions of interested business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere to follow their dream and make it happen.
The Big Idea provides advice businesses pay literally thousands of dollars for and it is free, all you need to do is tune in and someone will be talking about the same challenges you are trying to overcome whether that is in a business plan or sales win.
We have made great contacts and new business partners through the Big Idea that I want to keep and expand.
I hope we were able to encourage a few fellow entrepreneurs to just jump in_and swim for it.
Questions? Comments? BigIdeaCES@CNBC.com
By Kristian Rauhala