Where Einstein Meets Edison

Elevator Pitch Competition: CES Edition

Elevator Pitch Competition: CES Edition

Jan 26, 2011

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brings together approximately 130,000 industry experts, executives, engineers, and media personnel in what is known as the premier electronics exhibition.  You will find any number of well-established companies launching better, faster, and slimmer products in the technology arena.  You will also catch several start-ups with relatively smaller booths showcasing their goods. Although the established companies attract a lot of attention, CES does its part to highlight startup developments, particularly in mobile product launches.

The “Mobile App Showdown” is a place where new and interesting mobile companies pitch their solutions to the audience. The audience then determines who walks away with the prize money.

But the Mobile App Showdown is not simply an elevator pitch contest given that several months of online voting were used to select finalists. Things get very interesting very fast, in the spirit of Las Vegas–  from strippers at booth stations, to hardcore vegas partiers with hangovers, the Mobile App Showdown provides a unique setting for young app developers to sell themselves.

Given the shear volume of the event, it is difficult to do it full justice. But the following three examples provide some insight into the latest mobile developments by established companies and young startups:

WebMD Mobile

WebMD mobile exploits the WebMD platform to create a mobile friendly environment for identifying disease states and health information.  With over 2M downloads, it was one of the most popular established apps on display. The WebMD organizers did their part to attract attendees, with fake ailments and visible diseases that audience members could identify using the WebMD app.


DriveSafe.ly is a simple product that has been getting a lot of recognition lately.  The company mission is to de-risk texting in automobiles by providing new functionality on cell phones that dictates text messages and emails, allowing the driver to focus their eyes on the road.

iHealth Blood Pressure Monitor

Preventative health measures are really hot right now. Major health issues do not arise overnight; they tend to develop over the course of several months.  iHealth is looking to make the entire process transparent for tracking hypertension through continuous tracking with a blood pressure monitoring system and an associated iPhone application.  The app tracks blood pressure, clearly showing trends, and automatically provides the data to physicians.  It also provides a basic analysis toolkit, so one can actually determine their status.

In total, the Mobile App Showdown hosted 10 apps all vying for the #1 spot. The ones who were willing to stretch the boundaries with interesting and new ways to show off their functionality are the ones who kept in the spirit of entrepreneurship at CES.

The showdown concluded with an applause-o-meter and the audience choosing the winner: DriveSafe.ly.  

While CES isn’t designed for startup companies with little or no marketing budget, there are opportunities for the smaller players to capture attention particularly in mobile applications.