The biggest consumer electronics trade show in the world is a wrap! Even though not all of the big tech companies were present this year, for many startups and scale-ups, this is one of the biggest stages to show the world what they have to offer. A delegation of five Northern Dutch companies flew to Las Vegas and we sat down with them to talk about their experiences and expectations.
Startup in Residence 2020 alumnus Ocean Grazer made a lot of headlines and also took home the Honoree Award and the Best of Innovation Award. The University of Groningen spin-off startup developed the Ocean Battery, a promising energy storage system to store renewable energy generated from the wind at sea, by using hydrostatic pressure. The startup was one of nine companies given this prestigious innovation award, out of the two thousand companies present at CES.
“We didn’t really know what to expect going in, but we certainly never expected this level of success!” co-founder Marijn van Rooij says. “We spoke with a lot of potential investors and partners and our mailbox exploded when we got home. Of course there weren’t as many people and big companies this year, but to me it felt like the people who did attend were there on a mission and genuinely interested.”
TAEMio from Heerenveen is the youngest startup of the bunch, founded by Geertje Dam and Schelte Meinsma. Their HR and data-driven team optimization tool replaces the traditional periodical evaluation with a hyper personalized and scientifically validated way of measuring engagement, well-being, and vitality within teams. “Since remote and hybrid working is here to stay, our timing couldn’t have been better”, co-founder Geertje Dam says. “We did a lot of
preparing beforehand, setting up meetings, things like that. We also received pitch training, which really came in handy, especially when talking to American VCs and innovation scouts of big tech companies like Microsoft.”
“It was really cool and we got so much more out of it than we expected”, Geertje continues. “There are a couple of great opportunities and we’re now in a position where we have to make some big decisions in the coming months and the rest of the year.”
This year felt like taking our next step as a company."
Hydraloop from Leeuwarden was the talk of the convention back in 2020. The company was the big winner during CES 2020, taking home no less than four awards, including "CES BEST of the BEST”. Leading magazines such as TIME Magazine and NEWSWEEK also selected Hydraloop in their top favorite product lists. “That’s difficult to top of course”, co-founder Sabine Stuiver laughs. “But still, we got quite a lot of buzz this year too and an honorable mention in the CES opening speech, which is just amazing.”
“This year felt like taking our next step as a company. We were an inexperienced startup two years ago in the middle of a media circus and now we’re a scale-up and also invited as a speaker. We talked to a few big companies about potential partnerships, so there are plenty of great things on the horizon.”
Paper tech startup Tapp.online was featured at the digital edition of CES last year, as well as the physical edition in 2020. The company produces paper from agricultural waste, outfitted with chips and sensors and completely recyclable. This intelligent paper has a vast array of potential applications, ranging from monitoring things like temperature, humidity and shock intensity for transported goods like food or medicine, to real time stock monitoring or even smart business cards.
Founder Niels Postma is a little skeptical about this year’s edition: “Don’t get me wrong, CES is the perfect tradeshow and offers startups huge opportunities. I just think this year’s edition didn’t have the potential that 2020 offered. Most of the big tech companies didn’t attend and it was only three days instead of four. We had three physical meetings planned, but they all got canceled unfortunately. So personally I don’t think this year was worth it for us. On the upside, I’ll be flying back to the US in a couple of days to meet with Nestlé and one of the top 5 global tech companies for a pitch, so that’s great.”
Ferr-Tech, a startup from Meppel, developed a highly innovative process to purify wastewater using the world's strongest oxidant: Ferrate. What makes this substance so special is that it allows for very environmentally friendly chemical wastewater treatment. No harmful chemicals are involved. “We have our launching customer in California and we also have plans to open a US office later this year, so going CES made a lot of sense for us, despite initial worries about the Omicron variant and a lot of big tech companies canceling”, co-owner Judith le Fèvre says.
“But we got a lot of attention from the Dutch and American press and spoke to several potential and international investors. We’ve also made some new contacts who can help us settle in the US. And a personal highlight was going to a party at the mansion of one of the investors. After CES, we went on to California to finally meet our launching customer in person and discuss future plans. All in all, it felt like a wonderful adventure and an amazing experience.”