Irish firms keep low profile but CES is worth trip
IRISH firms kept a low profile at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, with only a handful actually exhibiting on the show floor while several executives attended in 'stealth' mode.
Enterprise Ireland, the government body that supports emerging indigenous businesses, takes a booth at Mobile World Congress, the annual phone event in Barcelona, but it has no physical presence at CES.
Flying the flag for Ireland were local offshoots of US firms such as Otterbox – based in Cork – and Zagg, which serves the European market from Shannon.
The only wholly Irish-owned booth in the convention centre was from Carlow-based brand Iolite, which has made a success in the US of its tobacco vapouriser known as Wispr. The product doesn't actually burn the tobacco but instead heats it to release the vapours and thus is less harmful to smokers.
"We made a late decision to come here this year but we've already decided to come back next year," said sales and marketing director Ciaran Oglesby.
Within the first few hours of the show opening on Tuesday, the firm had attracted potential deals from buyers visiting from New York and California.
Iolite is owned by Oglesby and Butler, a company that has been making industrial tools since 1984 and employs 100 people in Ireland. After just four years in production, Iolite already contributes half of the company's turnover, selling 100,000 of them last year at €200 each.
"The benefit of being at CES is a lot of press and finding distributors for different markets – it's very much a global show," said Mr Oglesby.