3 Founders Explain How Mentorship Helped Their Business

Mentors, organizations, and personal relationships are key components to any founder’s support system while building a business. And leaning on their inner circle for guidance, advice, and emotional relief can help create a path for success for many years to come.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of CES, have a mission to help founders succeed by providing practical resources to grow every nook and cranny of one’s business. As leaders in the innovation world, CTA helps companies transition through their stages by providing research, events like CES, and an extensive network of influencers, experts, and councils skilled in everything from public policy and raising capital to technology standards and human resources.

This year, CTA celebrated their 50th Anniversary of CES and it was the largest show yet. Over 177,000 people were in attendance from around the world, with 3,887 exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technology across 2.47 million net square feet of exhibit space. From gesture-controlled driverless cars to handheld scanners that detect the nutritional value of food, 7,545 members of the media captured the unparalleled value and global impact of the technology displayed at CES. For the over 400 startups who showcased at Eureka Park, CTA reported close to 2,000 venture capitalists were on site to find the next big thing.

CTA leads a vigorous effort to help their 2,000 plus members not only to get noticed by the media, buyers, and investors, but also to provide mentorship to guide them through the exhibit process and have the best show. We asked three startups who exhibited at CES about their experience and the benefits they received by having CTA as their support system.

First Time Can Be Overwhelming

Exhibiting at CES for the first time can be overwhelming. By tapping into the CTA mentors pool, startups are able to gain insight to maneuver through the process.

Robbie Cabral, Benjilock at CES 2017

Robbie Cabral, founder and CEO of Benjilock, a company that created the first traditional rechargeable padlock with fingerprint technology, was a newbie to CES Eureka Park. By leveraging his relationship with CTA he was able to network with a plethora of people that spread the word about his business.

“From CES Unveiled to Eureka Park, having the platform to showcase our product for the first time to the world is a thrill, but the real highlight for me is the chance to learn and network with hard-working entrepreneurs, businesses, startups, media and emerging technologies. As a first-time exhibitor, things can get a bit overwhelming and the CTA mentorship was key who were there to offer you advice and guidance. CES a one of a kind experience I personally will never forget!” Cabral said.

Attracting The Right People

For companies who are ready to take the big leap and launch their business on the main floor at CES, having a huge support system could really make a difference in attracting the right people to your product.

Digit Grips, a veteran-owned company that developed the first ergonomic grip for mobile devices, launched their first product line at CES 2017 to gauge the market interest from customers, distributors, and retailers.

“We initially thought we may be putting the cart in front of the horse but this was not the case. CES in conjunction with CTA was the perfect platform to determine the feasibility of our products. We could not be happier with our decision as we now have interest from distributors and major retailers globally, and anticipate signing numerous contracts soon,” Donnie Hayes, CEO of Digit Grips, said.

Maneuvering Through Public Policy

As businesses flourish, many will run into the issue of dealing with government or industry policies as well as employment challenges. Ximena Hartsock, CEO of Phone2Action, a social media, phone and email suite of advocacy tools, turned to CTA mentors to assist with public policy campaigns as well as how to acquire an H1B Visa for her employee.

“CTA has been extremely supportive regarding our immigration challenges. Last year, we sponsored an H1B visa for one of our team members. CTA helped us raise awareness about the issue and supported us in the process. Our employee was first rejected, but after we appealed the visa was approved and our team member could stay. We are a small startup and it’s remarkable that CTA takes the time to support all companies, big and small,” Hartsock said.

Tapping into an organization filled with experts, mentors and influencers in the tech space can become an invaluable resource for a startup founder while building their business.

“Through the mentor program and events, I have met very successful entrepreneurs who I would have not been able to meet otherwise. Some of these connections have turned into business opportunities but also have led to dear friendships that I cherish,” Hartsock said.

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Written by:
Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.
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