The Rewards of Risk: Advice from the CES 2020 Show Floor

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Overview Amid the lights and shine of CES® each year, it’s easy to forget one simple truth: No one got here by playing it safe. These innovators earned their place through a unique combination of grit, creativity and boldness.

The tech industry thrives on disruption and rejection of the status quo. But that can happen only when a person, a team and a company are willing to take risks.

One of the highlights of CES each year is hearing the stories of why these men and women are there. Because CES is a global show — attracting innovators from some 160 countries — these stories are as diverse as they are remarkable. I always walk away amazed by the challenges they overcame to arrive here, and grateful they persevered to bring us their best.

At CES 2020, we met many of these innovators in Eureka Park™ — our home for startups at CES. Here’s some of what we learned.

 

Take a Chance on Your Passion

Sabine Stuiver reminded us that it’s worth taking a chance on your passion.

A serial entrepreneur, Sabine invested the money she made through other companies into Hydraloop. It’s a remarkable appliance with the potential to improve sustainability worldwide. The product filters and recycles domestic water, so homeowners can reuse water and reduce their overall usage.

For her innovation, Sabine earned a “Best of CES 2020” award from Time Magazine. Ultimately, her company aims to create a world where every new building includes a water recycling system. 

“The biggest risk we’ve taken is that we are investing our own money. … This is our pension,” she said, “and we’re investing it in this. We could have not done that. We could have lived a beautiful life and never had to work again. But this is what we believe is what has to be done. We are on a mission. … We’re going to conquer the world.”

 

CES Provides Invaluable Perspective

From Baptiste Pageot, we learned how sharing your work on an international stage provides not only helpful connections, but invaluable perspective.

A business developer at France’s Myfood, Pageot and his colleagues showcased their smart greenhouses — equipping families and individuals to grow their own food, while maintaining the smallest possible carbon footprint.

“[We’ve learned] basically that we’re not the only ones who do great stuff,” he said. “[But] you can find other solutions, something that we can add on the greenhouses in order to control humidity…[There] was a lot of good contacts and people who come and see the greenhouse and say, ‘You should do that,’ ‘I can provide you [with] this’…If we can come back, we’ll [come], for sure.”

We worked really hard. We got a lot of rejections from investors, partners. But today, I’m really excited to have the product because it took us a lot of years. And I would say persistence is definitely one of the reasons we got to this point.

Elnaz Sarraf
Founder and CEO, ROYBI

 

Go After Your Dreams

Elnaz Sarraf, an Iranian innovator who moved to the U.S. as a college student, now manages a team that spans the globe. She urges other tech leaders who want to come to CES 2021 to stick to their vision and go after their dreams.

“My advice to entrepreneurs is: Do not give up!” she said. “Move forward, because working on a company [and] starting a business is very difficult. There [were] a lot of ups and downs, even for us to come to this point.

"We worked really hard. We got a lot of rejections from investors, partners. But today, I’m really excited to have the product because it took us a lot of years. And I would say persistence is definitely one of the reasons we got to this point.”

After several years of trial and error, Elnaz developed a product that combines cutting-edge AI with early childhood education — ROYBI. Her charming robot helps children learn foreign languages and basic STEM skills that will empower them to thrive, even as the future of work evolves dramatically in the years to come.

As you can see, Elnaz is far from alone in her enthusiasm and determination. Thousands of other innovators have worked against incredible odds and taken great risks to attend CES and show their tech creations to the world.

Every innovator at CES is proof that “fortune favors the bold” — and a testament to the incredible innovations we see when those with an idea have the courage and drive to see it through.

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