Business and pleasure don't often coexist with one another, and business always comes before pleasure, but when they're intertwined into one experience, bonds and memories can be created for a lifetime. This is exactly what happened when Trade Show Emporium had the opportunity to work with LunaWear on a special presentation for the Sports Innovation Conference here in Denver, Colorado. It all started when Richie Luna, the owner and creator of LunaWear, called TSE with a last minute request for a project that had to have a 4 day turn-around time. Standard lead time on most trade show displays is 2 weeks (10 business days), so when first taking the call I was weary at best we could make a project happen.
I was listening to a Kanye West interview right before Richie called the office, and in order to hear him more clearly I quickly turned the interview down shortly into the call. Afterwards, Richie said "Was that Kanye West? I love that guy!" At that point I said to myself "I really like this guy Richie" and wanted to do anything possible to create a successful presentation for him in a timely manner (plus we're committed to excellent customer service here at TSE).
The plot only thickened when Richie explained what the Sports Innovation Conference was, and why he was there. This conference compiled the best sports innovation products from across the entire United States into a top ten with panelists present including Hall of Famer John Elway and NFL All-Pro Russell Okung, and the winner would move on to the international competition in Rio De Janeiro during the Olympics. Not to mention $120,000 in funding was also at stake! Richie's product entitled LunaWear (after his last name) was in contention for this incredible opportunity.
LunaWear introduces itself as the world's first ever machine-washable/dryable, fashionable, illuminating athletic apparel company. Unlike other "illuminated" clothing options of the past, this product doesn't use reflection technology, so it doesn't need any light to be seen, and consumers of LunaWear can be seen from 1500 feet away at night by cars without lights on. Richie and his partner at LunaWear have degrees in chemical and biological engineering, so the technology developed into this product is not at all common and the first of its kind in numerous ways (multiple patents pending).
With such short notice, we had to move quickly and efficiently on presentation ideas. We started by renting out instantly available materials from our office here in Denver which included a 10 foot pop-up display and an LCD Stand with a monitor. Using a plain black Velcro-receptive fabric pop-up rental allowed for Richie to quickly produce his own printed graphics on poster board (1-2 day turn around) and apply Velcro-receptive adhesive on the back for a customized, company branded look into his product.
Beyond the display rentals showing his branded merchandise in print and video, there was one crucial element of the presentation that needed to be addressed. How were we going to show off the illuminating abilities of the actual physical product in person? We answered the call for this need by doing a rush order of an unbranded all black 5x5 Party Shade Tent that could easily set up indoors at the convention and show off the immense glowing capability of the product. Usually tents without graphics are produced in about 5-7 days, but in this case it was done in three full days.
Day of the show came with some last minute frantic moves, but everything was coming together smoothly as planned. There was one element of the tent presentation Richie and I discussed that hadn't been executed yet. We talked about how cool it would be to have some "light themed" music playing lightly in the background, including "All of the Lights" by Kanye West as we laughed and sang the song, sparking the Kanye connection once again!
When I sat down to craft a brief playlist for visitors at Richie's booth, a magical moment happened with Kanye West once again. On Kanye's new album, The Life Of Pablo, he has an extraordinary track called "Ultra Light Beam." An epiphany unfolded in my mind upon clicking on this song. It was PERFECT for this given situation. Not only does Richie's product in LunaWear emit ultra light beams for visibility, but ironically Richie and I had been riding this spiritual ultra light beam during the entire project using connections from Kanye West. This song seemingly summed up our journey up to this point in time, and at that moment, I became super excited about the competition that day.
Richie needed assistance setting up his materials the day of the show, so I met Richie at the show with the remaining materials he needed, and enlisted the help of a trusted personal friend named Kyle to insure timely set-up. Once complete, we had a little time to mingle with other competitors and some of the general public that decided to attend the event. During this time, Richie came and grabbed my friend and I for a surprise early appearance by the event's panelists.
Next thing we know, we're posing for pictures with John Elway and he's calling us by our first names. We were awe struck as to how he knew our names, but then we laughingly remembered we had name tags on. My personal friend Kyle is a colossal Broncos fan and John Elway fan, so he got the chance to chop it up with him for about five minutes to his delight. He was very cool, down to earth, and impressed by Richie's entrance into the competition. Now it was time to refocus on the task at hand, which was facilitating the best possible presentation for LunaWear.
Richie was beyond prepared; in fact his presentation was one of the best displays of public speaking and timed speeches I can recall, and even his competitors took time to tell Richie how inspirational his presentation was to everyone in attendance. In a competition filled with elite public speakers, Richie was the absolute best of the best, and he truly made Trade Show Emporium proud to represent him and his brand. Richie also handled the post-presentation questions from the investment panel with flying colors, not leaving any details to be desired.
As the competition progressed, our confidence in Richie's chances increased, and by the end we truthfully only thought one, maybe two products were even in the same class as the LunaWear illuminated athletic apparel. Ultimately, LunaWear didn't earn top honors at the Sports Innovation Conference, and neither did the one or two other candidates we believed had a product valid for victory (not to mention all the other competitors were surprised and dismayed by the decision). We tried not to dwell on the reasoning behind the decision, but it was apparently obvious something was a bit off when the winner of the competition was owned by the same people running it...so we'll leave it at that.
Richie, Kyle and I ended the day with a dinner in downtown Denver to recap the day's events. Despite the minor disappointment, the day in its entirety was amazing, and a major feeling of satisfaction cultivated at our table knowing we put forth the best possible presentation with our given resources, and that we formed a personal relationship that will last well beyond that single day.
During dinner, we jokingly made one more Kanye West connection. Richie said we could have used a Kanye type figure at the competition today to go up on stage after the winner was announced to say something like..."Hold up, Imma let you finish, but Richie had ONE OF THE GREATEST PRODUCTS OF ALL TIME!"