Two outstanding guests joined us while we were at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES). Bob O’Donnell, the President, Founder, and Chief Analyst at TECHnalysis Research, and Greg Johnston from Manta5, a company that offers the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike that replicates the cycling experience on the water. This week on Killer Innovations, we will discuss CES, the PC industry, and Manta5’s new game-changing product.
Standing Out at CES
With the size and noise of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), how do companies attract attention? Bob says that flashy press conferences are the key to getting noticed. Panasonic brought out Michael Phelps and showcased Star Wars characters to broadcast their work with Walt Disney Imagineering. Sony rolled out a car prototype known as the Vison-S during a press conference to promote the component technologies they are producing for the automotive industry. Having something that stands out is vital to gaining attention at an event like CES.
Bob and I had the pleasure of growing up together. We reconnected many years later through the PC industry. Bob has been a follower and influencer of the PC industry for a long time. With talk about PCs being dead, Bob shared some thoughts on the matter. The PC market has never reached its height. Still very much alive and kicking today, PCs have proved to be relevant even in the days of smartphones. The capabilities offered from PCs such as a larger screen and a physical keyboard are incredibly important. We saw some of the most significant innovations of PCs have been in recent times. AMD came out with their Ryzen 4000 Series parts for desktop and laptops based on their Zen 2 Core. Intel just debuted Tiger Lake, their next-generation Intel Core processor. On top of that, these guys are also exploring AI and 5G within the PC realm. That is why I partly believe we are in a real renaissance era of the PC market.
If you want to follow Bob’s endeavors, check out his recently started Forbes column here. He writes for Tech.pinions and has the Tech.pinions podcast, so check that out here. If you want to dig in, go to Bob’s website here.
Here at CES, you will see just about anything and everything under the sun. Joining us is New Zealander Greg Johnston, CEO of Manta5, a company with a unique product. What is Manta5, you might ask? Greg says that Manta5 is the “brain-child” of its founder Guy Howard-Willis, an avid cyclist who had the dream of cycling on the water. Years later, that dream came true when Manta5 created the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike on water. The bike itself has two wings and a propeller, and while the user peddles, the cycle planes on the water.
Idea to Product
As an innovator, I know how hard it is to translate an idea into a product. How was the process of turning this idea into a product? Greg said there wasn’t much to go off at first, so they started with a bike frame and a propeller. We used a private pool and experimented with heaps of different prototypes trying to develop the hydrofoils. Once we nailed the rider position relative to the foils, we received a grant from Callaghan to develop the propeller and foils with an engineer. How long was the time frame for this process? It took about seven years to get the product out, and the product has been on the market for about a year now. It is a customized product except for the handlebars, the seat, and the pedals. What was the feedback on the product? Greg says the feedback has been overwhelming. We created an unboxing experience to deliver directly to the customer which they loved.
What was the learning process for the company with the blow-up of the product? Going from creating a prototype, to designing the product, to producing it on a scale has been a significant challenge. We’ve grown our design team as well as our production and engineering team over time. We’ve also been developing our relationships with suppliers for when we are ready to mass-produce these products. How did you guys catch the attention of manufacturers with this product? Greg says that Manta5 worked with an agent in Taiwan who knew their founders. Building relationships is everything. If manufacturers like you as a person and your vision as a company, that is huge.
Vision for the Future
What’s next for Manta5? The vision is to become cycling’s new frontier. We want to create a range of new products in biking while cultivating a sport through our product. When it comes to any game-changing product, copycats always arise. How will Manta5 deal with copycat products? We at Manta5 place importance on establishing ourselves as the leader in Hydrofoil Biking. We support other brands that may pop up in the future, as we want to cultivate a sport out of Hydrofoil Biking.
About our Guest: Bob O’Donnell
Bob O’Donnell is the President, Founder, and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research. The firm's research and O’Donnell’s opinions are also regularly used by major media outlets, including Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN, Investor's Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and more. O'Donnell writes regular columns for USAToday and Forbes, as well as a weekly blog for Tech.pinions.com published on TechSpot, SeekingAlpha, and LinkedIn. Before founding TECHnalysis Research, Bob served as Program Vice President, Clients and Displays for industry research firm IDC. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
About our Guest: Greg Johnston
Greg Johnston is the CEO of Manta5, the creator of the world’s first Hydrofoil Bike, that replicates the cycling experience on the water. Greg is a driven entrepreneur who’s passionate about high growth startups and innovative social enterprise. He’s currently working alongside the original Torpedo7 founders to commercialize the Manta5 Hydrofoil Bike. Greg enjoys being a part of the Waikato startup and business scene. He’s always keen to meet new people, help connect others, and find ways to collaborate.
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To learn more about the renaissance era of the PC industry and the new game-changing product, Manta5, listen to this week's show: Renaissance Era in Innovation #CES2020.