WESTEC 2017 ran for three days, but I only got my hands on the free registration towards the end of the second day. Unfortunately that third day overlaps with TechDay LA so I had to split my day between the two venues. Going from one to the other is like going to another planet. The atmosphere was decidedly different between the two venues.
TechDay LA had quite a few companies that follow the current trend of offering a web-based service – sometimes with or without a mobile app component – that purports to help solve problems that I didn’t even know existed. Many of these blended together after a while as one company offering free T-shirts hasn’t really differentiated themselves in my mind from another company offering free T-shirts.
I was pleasantly surprised to find 3Diligent present at TechDay LA. A rapid manufacturing company that is willing to deal with low-volumes of a startup was something I had expected to (and did) find at WESTEC. And these guys are just across town in El Segundo. When I asked about learning the ins and outs of each of the processes, so I can design to optimize for them, I was told I would be sent a “design guide” to help me get up to speed. I look forward to receiving it.
A name I was pleasantly surprised to see here was Arrow. They were present because in addition to being the electronic components dealer I know them for, they have gotten into the business of small volume assembly. So they were here to connect with hardware-based startups that might need a hand building the electronics guts of their product. One day I might count myself in that group.
One criticism I have for this and many similar tech meets is that more than 50% (maybe as high as 75%) of the presenters aren’t startups. They are marketing companies, direct-mail solutions, venture capital funding, legal offices, generally support infrastructure that want to sell a service to a startup. Even a “Party on Demand” service that pumped obnoxiously loud music the entire time I was there. I don’t want these companies to be excluded from the conversation (after all, my two highlights Arrow and 3Diligent were in this category) we have more “support crew” than innovators. The LA area start-ups actually trying to do something novel gets crowded out.
But to end on a happy note: I did have a great chat with a small startup that, with its understated display, is evidently more focused on the product than on flashy show presence. We read about the oncoming era of drone deliveries, DASH is one of the companies working to make it happen. Staffed by SoCal aerospace industry veterans, using the open-source ArduPilot as a foundation, they build a turnkey delivery solution. I hope they find success.