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In startup area at CES, hope of Eureka moment

Inside Eureka Park at CES, Alex Gold and Lou Paik stand united, one friend helping another.

Only this isn’t just your run of the mill friendship. Gold is head of partnerships for the 4-year-old Carrotmob, and Paik works in the shopper marketing division of Unilever, the global company behind household names like Dove, Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The two came to the 2013 International CES to look at emerging technologies and determine how they could possibly use them at their respective companies.

Hence the reason they came to Eureka Park, the place for startup exhibits at CES, which runs through Friday. Since its launch last year, Eureka Park has at least doubled in size, attracting numerous companies that are in various stages of beginning.

As it attracts more startups to the show, the Consumer Electronics Association also wants to attract more as members.

The association recently opened up a new membership category exclusively for startups that went live Jan. 3. Cost is $95 per year and to qualify, companies must be in development of a technology product, service or app that has been introduced into the market within the last year or will be within the next year; have annual sales under $1 million; be located in North America; and not have been a CEA member within the past two years. Companies will receive regular CEA membership benefits at the reduced rate in the startup category for up to two consecutive years.

“Startups are jumpstarting our economy and are paving the way for America’s future,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the association.

Considered at startup itself, Carrotmob helps organize people to come together and spend money at a business and that business agrees to have a portion of the proceeds go to a good cause.

“The entire purpose is to use your dollar to affect change, while making it as easy as possible to do so,” Gold explained.

And at CES, the six-employee-strong company is looking for systems to help track purchasing and spending through mobile wallet solutions for ios and android enabled devices.

“The easier we make it for people to purchase products, the more willing they’re going to be to participate in these campaigns,” Gold said.

Inside Eureka Park, Paik was looking for tech that could have in-store applications, and he may have found one in Holografyx. The company makes 3-D displays, which Paik said could make for a really interesting addition to a freezer aisle in the grocery store. Imagine using a touch screen on the freezer door to check what’s inside of that ice cream before you purchase. Or snag a coupon before putting the ice cream in your cart.

“We’re always keeping our eye out for the next big thing,” Paik said.

The product that got Gold most excited at Eureka Park was Rocket Lawyer, a company that offers free consults with real attorneys in the cloud. “My God, this is awesome,” Gold said. “Operationally, this is paramount.”

He explained that the legal system as is really isn’t set up for small startups and having a lawyer on retainer is out of the question. This could solve that problem for Carrotmob.

While walking the floor, Gold wasn’t just looking for potential partners. He was learning, through Paik, what large brands need and how they differ from small companies.

“Startups can kind of exist in a bubble. It’s very hard to break from that bubble and scale,” Gold said. “Partnering with a company with large needs like Unilever is different than a Bob’s Hardware Store. It’s going to be an incredibly valuable experience for us.”

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at
[email protected] or 702-380-4588.
Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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