Beginner. Novice. Learner. Apprentice. Neophyte. Greenhorn. Rookie. Padawan. Whatever word you want to use, at one point every company was a first time exhibitor at CEDIA EXPO. Traditionally these companies have been located in an area called Rookie Row, but this year the area has been renamed Innovation Alley and it’s where the CEDIA Expo newbies will introduce their companies to the custom installation world.
According to CEDIA, Innovation Alley is where you can find “new manufacturers breaking into the industry and discover new products and vendors that are bringing fresh innovation into the market.”
I always enjoy visiting these up-and-comer companies as you never know when you’ll discover something that will be your company’s must-have item for the coming year. These companies are often small and you get to meet with the founders who share their passion and vision for the product. The booths are usually smaller and less crowded so you can really get an opportunity to talk to them and get to experience the product and see if it is right for your company.
This year, 18 manufacturers are slated to exhibit on the Alley, which is located in a prime spot near Paradigm (Sound Room 1), TiVo (Booth 4450), and Fortress Seating (Booth 4446). I reached out to a handful of these innovators prior to the show to find out how long they've been in business, why they decided to come to EXPO and why you should consider making the Alley part of your show plan!
Cairnstack Software, RR12
President and founder of Cairnstack Software, Reid Hanson, knows what it’s like to walk in a CI’s shoes and understands our business’s particular needs, as he started and ran an automation company for 13 years prior to starting Cairnstack in 2009. The company’s latest innovation is Trx.io, which was released worldwide in 2014.
When asked about Cairnstack’s elevator pitch, Hanson responded, “What are custom integrators biggest pain points? As a business owner, it is easy to track the obvious inefficiencies; however, when it comes to ‘the little things’ that can really make the difference, that can be more difficult. Imagine the tools the 500 companies rely on for daily business, but in a form and price that any small or medium sized business can benefit from.”
Cairnstack's Trx.io is an inventory and asset tracking solution.
According to Hanson, “Trx.io is a start-of-the-art inventory and asset tracking solution that is designed to make inventory tracking simple, cost effective, and efficient and is doing for inventory control what QuickBooks has done for small business accounting.”
The software handles labeling/identification, item movement, orders and change orders, project management, and post-sale marketing.
“Regardless of your business or process,” Hanson said, “Trx.io can track your assets for their entire lifecycle, all with one label. As a former integrator for many years, the consumer electronics industry is our home industry, and it is time to give back to the industry that was the catalyst of it all, and will benefit from its features the most.“
Integrators that visit Cairnstack at CEDIA can experience a live demo of Trx.io in action, and will be offered a money-back guarantee when they sign up for a one-year subscription. Further, every person that gives his or her contact information will be entered to win prizes the company is giving away during and after the show.
Founded in 2011, ilumi looks to “unlock the power of light to help people enjoy better lighting for better living.”
“Smart” lightbulbs are a popular category amongst consumers looking for a fast, simple way to add some lighting control, and ilumi’s co-founder and CEO, Corey Egan, said, “ilumi Smartbulbs are truly the best lightbulbs in the universe.” The bulbs use patented Bluetooth Mesh technology, and setup is as simple as screwing in a lightbulb, and the system is scalable enough to do a single room or an entire home.
The Original ilumi Smartbulb. The company's bulbs use patented Bluetooth Mesh technology, and setup is as simple as screwing in a lightbulb.
Egan added, “ilumi is also smarter than other 'smart' bulbs; it will remember your schedules and preferences, and comes with over seven built-in lighting programs, like music sync, a circadian wellness mode, and a vacation security mode.”
“We are exhibiting at EXPO this year to show-off ilumi, build some lasting relationships, and get some valuable feedback,” Egan explained. “ilumi is the best new option in smart lighting, and you should make it a point to stop by the ilumi booth to see what ilumi can do for you and your customers.“
Fun fact: ilumi appeared on ABC's Shark Tank and Mark Cuban is now a major investor!
The youngest company on Innovation Alley is barely celebrating its first year in business. Founded in August 2014, MantelMount is a full-range, up/down/left/right motion mount that “makes every seat in the room the best seat in the house!” according to business development manager, Claire Miller.
MantelMount addresses the issue that many customers wanting to mount a TV over the fireplace face, namely a screen that can be a tad too high for comfortable, everyday viewing. Miller explained, “MantelMount is a revolutionary full-motion TV Wall mount that allows you to bring a large flat screen TV off-the-wall, down to eye-level.”
Another unique product twist is that MantelMount’s hardware includes heat-sensing technology to make sure nothing gets too hot.
MantelMount addresses the issue of a screen that can be too high for comfortable viewing.
“We realized the MantelMount helps dealers and installers create a unique and profitable portfolio,” Miller said, “and we are excited to meet new and existing dealers/installers and educate them about our product.”
MantelMount was nominated for Best New Product and it has been receiving glowing five-star reviews from customers. If you install flat panel TVs, MantelMount could be exactly the mount your company has been missing!
Novi Security, RR9
Just over a year old, Novi Security was formed in May 2014 and the company looks to simplify and smarten home security installations.
“Novi is a super simple home security product for renters and homeowners alike,” Gavin Tanner, Novi Security’s VP of marketing explained. “When motion or smoke is detected, the system takes a series of pictures and sends them to the user's smartphone via the Novi App.”
With a host of other security offerings on the market, Novi Security looks to differentiate itself from competitors by being battery powered, so the system can be placed where it is most convenient for the user. Further, Tanner added, “users can opt-in to premium services such as professional monitoring, cloud storage, and cellular connection without contracts or commitments. Additionally, our system uses a photoelectric smoke detector to ensure quick and accurate feedback regarding the safety of the home.”
Novi Security makes detectors that automatically send photos to the user's smartphone when motion or smoke is detected.
Novi looks to entice and excite integrators at EXPO with those two magical words: recurring revenue. “We believe that CEDIA is an amazing opportunity for us to connect with integrators and installers to showcase a security product that they can offer as an easy up-sell to their end customers, but also a great opportunity for recurring revenue.”
U.S. Soundlabs, RR16
Founded in 2008 by two audio enthusiasts, U.S. Soundlabs is most excited about its SW2 subwoofer module, which company president, Frank Urban, explains is “unconditionally guaranteed to improve the sound from any 10-, 12-, or 15-inch subwoofer having at least 200 watts.”
U.S. Soundlabs makes the Surround Sub SS1 and the Drum Filter DF3.
The company also makes two other unique devices, the Surround Sub SS1 and the Drum Filter DF3 which are being tested now. “For all three products, there is nothing similar on the market,” Urban shared, “and audiophiles who hear them are generally impressed. At the moment these are accessories, but soon our technology will be built into receivers and subwoofers.”
U.S. Soundlabs is ready to sell the SW2 in high volume, and Urban said, “The CEDIA EXPO will help us do that. Anyone who sells or installs subwoofers will not want to miss hearing this new product.”