Pavilion suisse, CES 2019: interview avec FOLDAWAY Haptics

Quelles sont les attentes des start-up suisses, qui pitcheront à l'une des plus grandes foires électroniques au monde? Du 6 au 12 janvier, 13 start-up vaudoises seront au SWISS Pavilion du CES 2019. Rencontre avec Stefano Mintchev de FOLDAWAY Haptics (EPFL) avant le grand show US (en anglais).

Hi Stefano. What innovation will you bring at CES 2019' SWISS Pavillon?

FOLDAWAY Haptics exploits cutting edge robotic technologies to artificially recreate the sense of touch for Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) applications. “FOLDAWAY Touch” is a joystick that allows professional and consumer users to "feel" virtual objects by providing a realistic sense of touch instead of simple vibrations.

Professional users, such as doctors, nurses and workers in the industry, can use FOLDAWAY joystick to make VR training exercise more realistic trough the sense of touch. For instance, healthcare personnel can practice palpation training. And workers can learn better and faster the manual procedures required to operate machineries.

Consumer users can use FOLDAWAY Touch to engage in new touch-based games and entertainment in VR adding an entirely new touch dimension.

What stage are you at, and who is the team?

FOLDAWAY Haptics will incorporate in January 2019. The core team is composed by three co-founders Marco Salerno, Jamie Paik and me.

You’ll be participating at CES 2019 SWISS Pavilion next January, with the Vaud startup delegation. How do you feel just a few weeks before the big trip to Las Vegas?

It is a mix of sensations. On one hand, we are very proud and excited to present our startup at CES. It is a crucial event for our startup and will give us the unique opportunity to promote our product internationally. On the other hand, this puts a lot of pressure on us. We are currently finalizing a new VR game to promote FOLDAWAY Touch joystick to the public and to the press, and we are scheduling meeting with clients. Everything is happening very fast!

How is being part of the official Vaud delegation, led by SGE and Presence Suisse, important for your company?

We are thrilled to be part of the official Vaud delegation. The support and infrastructure that the event’s partner Innovaud has put in place are excellent for our venture. As a young startup with founders with an academic background, the training and support provided by Vincent Bieri (Nexthink) is extremely important to grow our business and maximize our opportunities.

What are your personal and company goals at CES2019? And challenges?

Our goals for CES are twofold: to demonstrate our joystick in an entirely new touch-based VR experience, and to interact with VR hardware and software companies. A major challenge for us is to identify and speak with the right clients. We are working hard to set up meetings.

Is the US market important for FOLDAWAY Haptics?

The US market is extremely important for us. The VR community actually developed in the US and the country is still at the forefront of innovation in this field. In the US we can find early adopters ready to experiment our new touch joystick. Furthermore, major players in the VR and AR markets are based in the US, such as Oculus, Magic Leap and Google.

You have been trained for your CES2019 pitch at Innovaud’s 2-days Sales Pitch Clinic workshop with coach Vincent Bieri (Nexthink, a Scale Up Vaud company that just raised 85 Million). What are the key learnings, which will help you deliver your best pitch in Las Vegas?

We have refined several aspects of our presentation. We now have a very clear value proposition with concrete examples of the advantages that touch feedback can bring to VR and AR. We have personalized the pitch in order to better engage clients and increase their interest.

What did you think of the overall training?

The training was excellent! Vincent is a very thorough and clear coach. He gave us very effective messages. The feedback from the other participants was extremely helpful as well. After this training, we have improved the clarity and maximized the impact of our pitches.

FOLDAWAY Haptics co-founders Marco Salerno and Stefano Mintchev

Presence Switzerland and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) are the organizers of CES 2019 SWISS Pavilion aiming to present some of the latest Swiss technologies to the US market. Over 1,100 startups that used CES as a platform to showcase their products have been funded. Innovaud is a partner of this event to support the participating Vaud startups.