If you had asked me in March if iPoint was going to CEDIA, I would have confidently stated, “No way.” Even though we’ve been around for three years, we’ve purposefully stayed with a slow-and-steady grassroots growth strategy, acquiring most of our business by word of mouth. I would never have guessed that by July we would have nearly doubled our dealer base and would be on target to triple the size of our business by the end of the year. But that’s exactly where we found ourselves, and the press was starting to take notice. At that point CEDIA was only two months away, and we had no plan, no booth, and no budget. So yeah, we decided to go for it.
After a few phone calls to the folks at CEDIA and a couple lucky bounces, we ended up with a great booth location and 600 square feet of blank canvas. Easy enough. Now the hard part: getting a booth designed, fabricated, and built in two months. In situations like this, never underestimate the power of Google. We used it to find a helpful sign company that sold preconfigured truss booth displays, and they could have one shipped to us in three weeks. That left us with less than a month to design the graphics and produce the signage, and one week to actually make it to CEDIA.
The driveway trial-run
Having no idea where to start with the graphics, I turned again to the internet and signed up with an overseas graphics firm. This was a terrible idea. We burned two weeks and had nothing to show for it. So with one week to go, my Level 1 support member Dillyn, who does the custom proposal templates for all new iPoint clients, volunteered to give it a shot. He knocked it out of the park, but it still took us two weeks to complete. Fortunately, the sign company was able to put a rush on our booth and it arrived one week before the show.
At this point, my worst nightmare was getting to CEDIA and putting together our booth, only to find out that something was wrong or missing. So to be safe, we decided to assemble the entire truss display at my house in the driveway, much to the delight of the neighbors driving slowly by. It took two days in the hot sun, but everything checked out. Working late into the night, we screwed casters onto the shipping containers so we could move them around and packaged everything back up. The next day I was on the road, driving to another city to buy a new cargo trailer and bringing it home. The following day we packed up the new trailer, piled into the truck, and set off on our voyage from Topeka to Dallas.
The trip to Dallas was uneventful, which turned out to be our luckiest break of all. After unloading and setting up at the convention center, we headed back to the hotel. One block before we got there, we hit a big bump in the road and the trailer popped off the hitch. Upon closer examination, we could see that the trailer was 2 5/8 inches and we only had a 2-inch ball. So, we had travelled more than 600 miles at 75 miles per hour with a trailer loaded to the hilt, all on a hitch that wasn’t even attached—and all without incident.
The booth's debut at CEDIA In the end, all that hard work and good luck paid off. Our first CEDIA was a blast, and our booth was at capacity for the entire show. I don’t think any of us even had a chance to eat lunch on any of the three days. We had the opportunity to meet with many of our users and hear how iPoint has helped their business, and also met hundreds of new integrators looking to improve their own operations.
CEDIA 2016 was a crazy ride, and I learned a lot about doing trade shows. I’m so glad we did it and can’t wait to see you all next year!