CEA i-stage Awards Two Midwest Startups $50K In Prizes

October 21, 2010

6:15 pm

The CEA Industry Forum is taking place this week in San Francisco. Tech Cocktail was a media partner for the event and I participated as a judge for the i-stage startup launch competition. Eight startups offered three-minute elevator pitches to the crowded room of CEA industry professionals. The startups were competing for $50,000 worth of prizes and a chance to exhibit at the 2011 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January.

I was joined on the judging panel by Jeremy Toeman, Founder of Stage Two, Rick Rommel, VP of Emerging Business for Best Buy and Richard MacManus CEO and Founder of ReadWriteWeb. We ranked all the pitches on four different criteria and after tallying the scores, it was deemed that southern Indiana based Mavizon Technologies, makers of the Autobot, was the first place winner scoring them a $40,000 check. Autobot also took home the $2,500 People’s Choice Award.

Autobot Wins 2010 CEA i-stage

Autobot Wins 2010 CEA i-stage Competition

The Autobot is an aftermarket product that plugs into vehicles and brings artificial intelligence through cloud-based social media integration. It enables users to control nearly anything about your vehicle through a mobile app or the Web. It also allows you to track your car’s location, call emergency contacts if your airbag is deployed and even offer Twitter-like functionality. It is like “everyman’s OnStar.” Autobot will be available for under $300 and without a monthly service fee as it will be supported by advertising. I can’t wait to try Autobot out as it offers some similar social media application and features to the Dash GPS which I tried out long ago.

nPower PEG

nPower PEG

The runner-up was also from the Midwest. Cleveland-based Tremont Power showed us the nPower PEG which makes kinetic energy from common movements. Though admittedly the product reminds me of the As Seen On TV, “Shake Weight”, the nPower PEG device is an eleven ounce bar that can be placed in a backpack and collects energy from every movement. It can collect enough energy to recharge an iPhone. The nPower PEG is just the first example of what Tremont Power is capable of creating as the kinetic energy producing technology can be used in a number of different ways which could change the world in a positive way.



One of the most unique products was created by Mountain View, California-based Anybots. This self-funded startup created a robot that can be taken anywhere – it is connected and controlled via a web dashboard. Positioned to be a mobile, personal polycom machine, Anybots offers a video communications platform on wheels which can then be used to host a virtual executive assistant for a remote workforce. It’s a very forward thinking idea, but probably not that far off as the technology and communication worlds are moving forward fast. My only issue with the Anybots is its $15,000 price tag which makes it a bit out of reach for small to medium sized businesses. But when you compare it to the cost of traveling or even other telecommunication options, the pricing doesn’t seem so outlandish.

As a consumer of content online, via mobile devices and television, Eyecon, a Mountain View, California based startup caught my attention. Eyecon is looking to turn your mobile device into your personal media manager that integrates with your television. Eyecon currently offers an iPhone and Android Application and soon will be rolling out an iPad app that will enable users to search, collect and queue up both Web and local content. They are currently in the process of raising an A round of financing.

Download the Eyecon iPhone application from iTunesEyeconTroller

Soundcage starter kit

Soundcage Custom Fit Headphone Kit

If you’ve ever gone running or working out and had your inexpensive, non-fitted earphones fall out, then you’ll want to tune into Sonomax Technologies as they are in the process of bringing self-service, custom fitted in-ear headphones to market. Looking to rollout as “Soundcage“, these headphones require a one-time, four minute process for creating your custom-fit set of in-ear headphones that passively block noise and fit like no other earphone you have ever experienced. I was able to give the process a try and after four painless minutes had a set of custom fit headphones. The headphones will debut at CES 2011 and will be priced from $199 to $299 depending on the model.

O'Car Intergrates iPhone Into Dash

O'Car Intergrates iPhone Into Dash

Looking to turn your iPhone into a car stereo experience, Oxygen Audio of North America is looking to bring O’Car to market. O’Car is an in-dash car stereo that integrates the iPhone into a car entertainment experience. Priced at $299, you can leverage your iTunes library, listen to the stereo over the O’Car iPhone application, dial hands free calls or use any other app on your iPhone with your in-car audio hooked through O’Car’s 4 x 55W built-in amplifier and your car speakers.

Pomdevices is looking to dive into the elderly health care arena by creating the Sonamba, a well-being health monitor for seniors living independently. Sonamba monitors seniors regularly through sensors and artificial intelligence. The device also doubles as a picture frame, text messaging device and game console with games for keeping an aging brain sharp.

Congrats to all of the startups that participated in the i-stage event. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with CEA as both a media partner and a judge this year. In case you are wondering what you might expect to see at CES, check out what we called the “best of CES 2010” as we are looking forward to CES 2011!

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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