Orbotix: Tips and Takeaways from CES 2013

How Sphero kept Boulder’s Orbotix on track during the Consumer Electronics Show.

Talk of toys often pops up in conversations about consumer electronics. And that was certainly the case for Boulder-based Orbotix, which took its increasingly popular robot ball, Sphero, to the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

We caught up with Orbotix marketing coordinator Whitney James for insights into mixing business and pleasure at CES.

Cats have a special relationship with Sphero.

Cats have a special relationship with Sphero.


The UpStart: What did you want to accomplish at CES that you might not have otherwise? Are you satisfied with the results?

Whitney James: CES provides a small company like Orbotix a great opportunity to reach the masses. There are still so many people who have never seen Sphero or had the chance to take it for a spin around a racetrack, and that’s exactly what we offer at CES.

This year we were also showing off brand-new ways to play with Sphero: controller games such as Nyan Cat SpaceParty and DoodleGrub, and augmented reality games like Sharky the Beaver and The Rolling Dead. Not only could visitors drive the ball, but they could also have a photo taken with an augmented reality character to share with all their friends!

We wanted to make the Sphero booth a destination for fun to take a break from the sometimes stuffy show floor, and we are absolutely satisfied with the results.

The UpStart: How do you obtain valuable contacts at such a well-attended event?

James: Typically, companies will use a card scanner to keep contacts organized at large events like CES. But since we’re such a small and interconnected team, it’s easy for us to handle interactions and make sure everyone meets the appropriate contact. We also utilized a great deck space above our racetrack where we could meet with press and take private interviews.

The UpStart: Other than sales and outreach, what was the most valuable takeaway from CES 2013?

James: Our most valuable takeaway is undoubtedly introducing people to Sphero. Even those who have met the robot before had the chance to demo unreleased games and interact with members of our team, which provides a rich experience you simply can’t have online.

The UpStart: What advice do you have for a startup that considers attending in 2014?

James: No matter what your budget provides for at CES, it’s worth the trip. It doesn’t take an enormous booth to win press and show off your product or service; just a creative and memorable approach. Go rogue and have a great time!

The UpStart: Do you plan to attend in 2014? What will you do differently?

James: We already have big plans for CES 2014, but the details are under wraps. You’ll just have to swing by the South Hall to see what Sphero is up to.

The UpStart: What was your favorite new product of the show?

James: The majority of the Sphero crew was track-side during the week at CES, so we didn’t have a lot of time to roam around. But based on what we saw from the booth, the smartphone-controlled blender our devs hacked together was pretty great. (We might be a little biased.)


About Orbotix

Orbotix logo on The UpStart

Company name: Orbotix
Headquarters: Boulder, CO
URL: gosphero.com
Twitter: @gosphero
Years attending CES: 3
Number of employees attending in 2013: 30
Product(s) showcased in 2013: Sphero