Selected two years in a row to attend CES’ Luxembourg Pavillon, Koosmik gives us its fresh and honest take on the experience along with a few tips.
by: Silicon Luxembourg
featured: Grégoire Yakan (Koosmik) & Arnab Naskar (STOKR) at CES 2020
Listen to article (Part I)
How do you feel after these 4 days in Las Vegas?
I think everyone is exhausted. More than the long trip, jetlag certainly hits you as you have to get used to waking up at 5am, pitching at 7am, moving to your booth before 9am and then talking and keeping the excitement levels up until 6pm. Then there are so many side events, press interviews and after work networking sessions in different locations where you need to run with your laptop.
Was it worth the trip in terms of business?
Each startup may have a different answer, but I would say a big yes. Once you have a booth, it is worth it in terms of visibility and the global media coverage. Mostly, visitors are executives or top management and most big companies send troops here even if a lot of them choose not to set up booths (Apple and Google come to mind). It was definitely useful for us last year in terms of raising funds while we were in survival mode while this year we were focused on getting industry partnerships.
As a fintech startup, you do not have a hardware product. Was it a problem?
It’s really frustrating to see thousands of people not stopping by your booth. However, being one of the few fintech startups inside Eureka Park gives you a chance to shine. We managed to meet many representatives from Amazon, Western Union, IFC, World Bank, CIC, Bank of America, Desjardins, Softbank as well as numerous private investors from the US.
“We need to strengthen the “delegation” spirit at every level.”
What is your biggest achievement thanks to CES?
Being at CES and the Paris Fintech Forum brought us visibility and enough investor contacts that helped us close our seed round last year. Without that $2 million round, Koosmik’s project would have not survived.
What do you think about the startups and the organisation represented at CES?
We are not in a position to judge the quality of the other startups. It would be a good idea to organise a challenge to select the startups and give more transparency to that process. CES is the #1 tech event each year. Luxembourgish startups need to be there and in that way the organisation is improving. They are bringing in more startups each year and are getting better locations as well. It’s always easy to criticise something from the outside. Luxfactory managed to gather 20 startups this year, and that’s why Luxembourg as a country was on the CES Map this year. Without Luxfactory, I wonder if we would have had a Luxembourgish delegation at CES.
Listen to article (Part II)
What can be improved for the Luxembourgish startups?
We need to strengthen the “delegation” spirit at every level. When you compare us with the Taiwan, Hong Kong or even closer Netherlands pavilions, you see that they have an Olympic Games-like spirit. To balance that, Elodie Trojanowski actually achieved an impressive job in coordinating and helping the 20 startups before and during the event.
Some of the startups knew each other through previous editions. This helped but it’s not enough. The startups should bond more and prepare as a delegation. They should stick together, eat together, and share insights with each other (especially the sales and marketing teams). Moreover, our delegation would have been stronger with the presence of officials from the country, like during the economic trade missions organized by the Chambre de Commerce.
“Selected startups should agree to behave as ambassadors and represent the country.”
Do you mean more financial support for startups as well?
The total cost of CES per day is cheaper than Paris Fintech Forum, actually. Luxembourg should definitely make the “startup nation” thing happen and that will be achieved through these kinds of international events. In my opinion, the brand, the startups and the officials should all work together. In exchange, selected startups should agree to behave as ambassadors and represent the country. This would avoid showing an empty booth or any negative image at all costs, while promoting the Luxembourgish ecosystem.
What about the Sin City? Is it fun despite the intensity you describe?
If you go to Vegas for the fun, I will recommend avoiding it during that time (CES). Hotel room rates can be up to ten times more expensive and traffic is a nightmare. Therefore, CES would not be the best time to party, sorry.
Did you have any fun during CES?
It was definitely fun. The entertainment industry is huge. However, overall, Vegas is superficial. The only advantage is that, as a reaction, people display their true side and feelings. It definitely allows each team to bond. By mixing stress, tiredness and excitement you get the perfect recipe to know someone, for the best or the worst. The most important thing always boils down to who you are with, rather than where you are.
“We really loved the atmosphere at the Pavillon. While Ibisa definitely killed it, let us say we had a crush on STOKR.”
Will you be in Vegas for next year’s CES?
Yes but we will not have a booth as an exhibitor, as we did during the last two years. We may, however, have one or two representatives, schedule business meetings in advance during that period and attend the most important events. Many companies, even startups, prefer that option, avoiding the complexity and logistics behind setting up a booth.
Which company in the delegation was your crush?
They were all great, some of them we knew from last year. We really loved the atmosphere at the Pavillon. While Ibisa definitely killed it, let us say we had a crush on STOKR and especially Arnab Naskar, Emma Rahmani and Tobias Seidl. You may soon find out why.
What was your best moment last year and this year?
Everyone knows the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”