Alums invade CES. Their Trojan horse? An electric scooter.

by January 15th, 2014

Team URB-E at CES

Alumnus and instructor Grant Delgatty with Jordan Crook of TechCrunch at CES

UPDATE: Surprising many in the crowdfunding space, the Art Center alum/instructor team behind the URB-E personal mobility device today launched a campaign on Indiegogo.  Since making a splash at CES, the team has secured an impressive wave of exposure about the compact e-scooter.  The invention was selected as the official mobility device of the American Pavilion at the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival and will assist the crew of an ocean research vessel in a Discovery Channel doc.

The group of Art Center alums behind the URB-E electric scooter didn’t make anyone’s list of newfangled gadgets most likely to ignite a media brushfire at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Team URB-E entered the preeminent tech convention unannounced and exited the event basking in the glow of a media love fest any celebrity would envy. The upshot? Chutzpah + a great idea + a well-executed product = a perfect set-up for URB-E’s Feb. 1 Indiegogo campaign launch.

With speeds up to 15 miles per hour, the fold-up device weighs in at 27 pounds and runs 20 miles on a charge with a price tag of $1500.  The media has gone mad over the invention created by Grant Delgatty, Todd Belle and Mateo Neri, who make up the “E-go maniacs” behind Egological Mobility Solutions.

Key to success with any new idea is keeping your network informed of the journey. In a recent dispatch Delgatty, who is also an instructor in the Transportation Design and Product Design Departments, provided this behind the scenes report of their CES party-crashing exploration:

We are riding high after an exciting trip to CES, and to say we had a successful trip, would be a gross understatement. Since we couldn’t afford to set up our own booth at the show this year, we decided to just go as attendees and ride around on our three URB-E prototypes with the hope people would ask us about them and we might get some exposure.

We arrived in the afternoon on the first day of the show, and once we were inside the main convention hall, we didn’t get as far as the first booth when people started to approach us asking what these were. We ended up getting stuck in this one spot for the next four hours. During that time, we gave several hundred people demos of the product and conducted many interviews for many different media outlets.

We were eventually approached by CES security near the end of the day and they wanted to know where our booth was. When we told them we were “just riding around,” we were escorted to an area in the front, and met by the head of security and about 10 officers. Long story short, we were able to convince them to allow us to keep our badges and attend the show, but with the stipulation that, if we were caught with the scooters, wearing our URB-E t-shirts, or handing out any more flyers, we would be banned from CES for life!

The problem was, we had already made arrangements to come back on the following days to do more interviews. So, what did we do? We snuck back through the entrance carrying an URB-E in a surfboard bag, wearing our t-shirts under our jackets, and flyers in our pockets!

In the short time we were “demoing” our product, we were interviewed by Fox News, Michael Somner “The Gadget Guy,” CNN, MSNBC, The Verge, TechCrunch, Divas and Dorks, and many other media from around the world, and we even sent one of our prototypes to New York to be featured on the Today Show!  And to top that off, we won the “BEST OF CES” award from The Verge for the personal transportation category, and made the “BEST OF CES” list for TechCrunch and Divas and Dorks!

Not bad. I guess that’s what you call guerrilla marketing (or in our case, ‘gorilla’ marketing!)

 

 

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