bengali off the beaten bath

2011 Started with a Bang and a Whimper : $1.3M Gone in 30 Minutes!

For 6 years I had a routine for the first day of the New Year.
I would wake up around 11am totally beat from the crazy night I just had.
Then I would go get some lunch with friends, re-pack my bag and take off for the yearly product and road map launch at CES in Las Vegas.

For you non-techie types, CES is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Given it occurs at the same time as the AVN show, Vegas is never more of a zoo than the first two weeks of the year and it was always an amazing time and learning experience.

I might do a post about CES and how to hack trade shows in the future.
This is our booth one year. Grown men did commando rolls into Motorola executives for one of our stickers that were being flung into the sea of geeks and suits.

A booth concept I called the “Mobile Night Club” was the first CES booth to ever have DJs, models, go-go girls and a riot of customers in as vanilla an area as mobile accessories and the next year everyone was following our lead.
That’s for another post.

No… today I am going to talk about how on January 1st 2011, the head of CEA, governing agency for trade shows in Las Vegas, called my cell and said that our Mobile Night Club Booth had caused a WORKER STRIKE on the first day of setup at CES and 45 minutes in had already cost a total of $1,300,000 in losses…..

Yea we caused a..


SAMSUNG’s booth. Stopped.
NOKIA booth Stopped.
Microsoft booth. Stopped.
Kodak when they had money for a booth. Stopped.

batman scared

And so on it went, a 1,860,000 square foot trade show with the world’s players had come to a stop.
I have never woken up so fast in my life…

So what happened?

Turns out a very reputable company that we hired to build our booth had hired as they often do a sub-contractor to lay carpet. Now if you don’t know trade shows, Vegas is a Union town. This means everyone on the floor has to be a union worker. Once of the carpet layers from this sub-contractor was not, he was spotted by a union worker, ratted out and it caused a floor wide strike. In under 30 minutes it had already been a $1.3M loss that we were expected to pay!!!

I didn’t even have time to clean my shorts upon hearing this, instantly went into damage control mode and made about 10 phone calls to insurance companies and lawyers.

Long story short, I convinced our insurance company that what happened was an “Act of God” which allowed our insurance company and the insurance company of our booth construction company to handle these charges. The show went on to be our Best Show ever where LuxMobile won Best of Show!


It could have gone the other day if we didn’t have a solution, our booth would have been stalled out and we would not have been able to exhibit and worse.

What’s the lesson here?

1. Vegas is a Union Town. Don’t mess with that. You can’t even change a light bulb without potentially getting in trouble.
2. No matter how big and reliable a partner is, one weak link will take you down. In this case that was the sub-contractor not doing their due diligence. This applies to a lot.

3. Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS get insurance, the best you can afford. All those people that say insurance is a scam has never had their collective asses saved by insurance. In fact insurance even saved me from Pirates one time off the coast of Mexico.

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