#2014SignExpo The Little Companies
Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
I admired the young companies who spent money to take space in the Digital Zone at #2014SignExpo, but it does boggle the mind when 1) they have written their own software even though there are so many good and great companies out there already offering it; and 2) they think that they are the only ones doing what they are doing.
Well, hello out there! It’s unlikely that “no-one out there could offer what we needed” and as for being the only one (offering what they offer), well chances are that someone can do/is doing exactly what you are doing already.
However, that’s not to say that we should write off these companies. Often, by the time they get to a show like #2014SignExpo, they’ve usually built up a customer base locally, at least. And we have to give them credit for, in this case, looking at possible growth through alliances with sign companies – or just getting their face out there and getting noticed among the big boys.
Such are some of the smaller exhibitors we met at #2014Sign Expo. One is Menuat, a year-old Jacksonville, Florida-based company led by an enthusiastic Jeff Charette, founder and CEO who built Manuat’s software management system.
“With our digital menu boards, we can make changes in real time, making a price change, eg., with one click from any mobile device,” said Charette. “Do you know anyone else that can do that?” – Yes, Jeff, most companies doing menu boards can, Ed.
However, to clarify, Charette said that it’s the full feature set, not just realtime updates.
“We are the only company offering realtime updatable menus that sync in store, to the web, and mobile exhibiting at the show,” said Charette. “We sync to mobile sites and web sites.”
“We are agnostic when it comes to screens, and we can update either a single screen or a whole network like that,” said Charette.
Menuat, which at the moment is focused on the southern U.S., is backed by Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and PS27 Ventures.
Another first time exhibitor at #2014SignExpo was Crunchy Tech, a seven-year-old firm in Orlando, Florida. This company seems to have its hand in many pies, doing both events and permanent installs.
“We’re into any environment,” said Adi Khanna, CFO and part owner. “We work with various partners like Samsung, but have our own software management system. We do large screens, videowalls and touch screens. We can put iOS on a large touch screen.”
Amanada Roche, Crunchy Tech’s marketing coordinator, said that the company provides the large music video screens in Hard Rock Cafes and has done an installation at Margaritaville in Hawaii.
Another first-time exhibitor that we spoke briefly to at #2014SignExpo was Eureka! Media. El Paso, Texas, which began in advertising in 2001, started in digital five years ago, and has also been a sign manufacturer since 2011. It did the digital signage for Wendy’s in Mexico and Little Caesar’s in Phoenix and in California. Ernie Koury, president, said that the company is a total solutions provider, including content.
Swedx America was also there, with a single side 46” stand called The Blade. The company, which also does video walls, refers to The Blade as ‘the world’s thinnest kiosk. Swedx is trying to break into the North American market with partners under the Swedx America and Swedx Canada brands.
April 29th, 2014 at 13:42 @613
I love hearing about new companies touting themselves as being the first to do so and so….SIC. None of the above mentioned companies have anything new to offer
I was struck to see that Swedx touts their blade kiosks as being the world’s thinnest!!! really? at 7cm (currently what they have listed online) is something I saw and personally built in 2010. Today we target 5cm and still believe there’s additional room to go even lower.
These companies need to do some fact checking before making such claims
April 29th, 2014 at 16:10 @715
Great article. We still view ourselves as one of the Little Companies though we’ve come along way from our small 5×8 booth at DSE 2009. I think one of the reasons so many companies write their own software is its generally ‘easy’ to create a solution that works and get some customers. The difference is making something that not only ‘works’ but that empowers a variety of different users, that usually comes only with experience.
I do like what Menuat is doing though. They are focused on one specific use of menu boards. I’m a big proponent of purpose-built software. I also like the automatic sync of the menu online. If they could sync up that menu with Yelp! they would have something!