For many professionals in tech it’s become a yearly ritual. As the New Year rolls around, right after the holiday festivities end, and before the hectic pace starts, the technology and business community gather in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.
CES, the largest trade show in the world, has evolved from focusing on gadgets to hosting pavilions, experiences, and booths of technologies as diverse as mobility, climate tech, civic tech, gaming, content, Web3, metaverse, and even food tech.
The conference’s inclusion of new verticals mirrors how consumer technology has impacted every aspect of our lives. As we ended 2022 with an explosion of generative AI (creative AI), the nascent stages of this technology used by consumers show how tech continues to evolve and change.
There is a parallel between the evolution and growth of this conference and the global growth of Israeli technology. Every vertical has a robust presence in Israel, and this makes a noticeable impact at CES and other global conferences.
Despite doom and gloom forecasts about 2023 being a graveyard year for Israeli startups, the Startup Nation made a strong showing at CES, and set the tone for the year.
While there are variables companies can’t control, such as market conditions, there are ones they can, such as taking proactive steps to show up in person to grow their business.
During the pandemic, the Startup Nation thrived, and digital interaction was how the world conducted business. However, as things return to “normal” and we’re flooded with AI-generated images and text, in the very near future we may not be able to tell if we’re communicating with a person or a bot.
“Israel’s star was bright with a dozen startups at different stages representing a cross-section of innovations.”
Which is why attending events and conferences, and doing business in person will become even more important in 2023 and beyond. Israeli entrepreneurs instinctually seized on this opportunity, and helped kick off the year at CES.
CES’s startup pavilion, Eureka Park, has taken on a global vibe as countries such as France, South Korea and Sweden actively support their startup ecosystems at the show.
The most noticeable thing upon entering this pavilion is that the Israeli Export Institute’s pavilion in the middle of the show floor was buzzing! There were companies representing all verticals in the ecosystem, and clearly things were happening, judging by the positive conversations.
Oliver Mitchell, partner at ff Venture Capital, noted: “Israel’s star was bright with a dozen startups at different stages representing a cross-section of innovations. In fact, their international pavilion was probably the busiest of all the booths in the Venetian.”
Early-stage Israeli companies utilize a conference like CES to connect with potential customers and get face time with prospective clients from large corporates who may not be accessible otherwise.
The companies in the Israeli pavilion were featured here, and among them were a few notable startups whose solutions dovetailed with the hottest trends this year at CES.
In the metaverse, Eye-Minders helps VR gamers deal with cybersickness by analyzing a user’s eye movements; and SparX, which generates customized visualizations of the inside of empty homes, were notable startups in this space.
Sportstech, which crosses over a number of verticals (in this case IoT), was represented with BlazePod, which utilizes light-up pods for intense physical training; and Healables, a wearable that delivers tiny doses of electricity to stimulate and accelerate healing.
None of this would be possible it not for the energetic, passionate employees of the Israel Economic Mission and Israel Export Institute.
Whether it’s CES or other major conferences such as JP Morgan’s Healthcare Conference in San Francisco or the National Retail Federation in New York, many business opportunities for Israeli companies would not be possible if not for the support of these government institutions.
And as CES has grown to include streaming, publishing, and media, well-known companies including Israel’s Outbrain had a presence in the C-Space pavilion.
Industry players like Mobileye have traditionally used CES as the platform on which to share news, release new products, and build thought leadership.
This year was no different, as Mobileye founder Amnon Shashua presented his vision for the coming year in a widely viewed presentation.
Building relationships is also key to growing startups’ success.
To support its community, Israeli mobility ecosystem partner EcoMotion held its annual event at a hotel near the Las Vegas Convention Center. Here, mobility startups presented and networked with possible investors and corporate partners.
Other notable Israeli companies in the mobility space that exhibited at CES include the IoT platform for urban mobility NoTraffic; C2A Security, which offers end-to-end automotive cybersecurity solutions; and Foretellix, a testing, verification and validation platform for the development and deployment of autonomous driving systems.
“CES was amazing, and exceeded expectations,” Foretellix CEO Ziv Binyamini told ISRAEL21c. “We met partners, customers … and senior executives at this rare yearly opportunity where many key decisionmakers are in one place.”
Binyamini said that his early growth company has been attending CES since it was raising its Series A round. “It’s been extremely beneficial, and some of the beginnings of our strongest relationships are a result of our yearly attendance.”
This shows how far the ecosystem has come, and it’s not just about early-stage companies, but also established companies that will continue to grow their presence in the coming years.
Finding Israeli culture in interesting places
At many global conferences, one can see the influence of Israeli culture, and not just on tech. Las Vegas, where CES takes place every year, has a large Israeli community, and that adds to the vibrancy of the local Jewish community.
It’s a testament to the popularity of Israeli cuisine that the fast-growing Israeli chain Miznon recently opened a branch in the Palazzo Hotel near the convention center. Las Vegas has embraced street food and “food hall” culture, and the restaurant was packed with CES attendees at all hours.
In summing up the feeling at the conference, ff Venture Capital’s Oliver Mitchell stated, “Big themes this year include the electrification of mobility, the automation of everything, and utilizing AI to drive content creation. The buzz in Eureka Park — and neighboring parties — was palatable, reminding everyone that CES is BACK!”
And with CES as its opening shot, 2023 should be a productive year for Israeli tech companies that take a proactive approach to attending conferences and building relationships.
Jonathan “Yoni” Frenkel is a content strategist and founder of YKC Media, a digital marketing agency that works with the global tech/venture/startup community.