A Look Back & A Look Forward

Alex Hawkinson
Jan 4, 2015 · 3 min read

I’m excited to be en route to the International Consumer Electronics show in Vegas this week. Rough to be away from the family and I will miss my wife, little baby, and awesome kids. But it’s a truly game changing event across the entire technology industry.

My own journey with CES has been insane, humbling, and exciting. When I founded SmartThings with some of my best friends less than 3 years ago, we had no idea that in August 2012 our Kickstarter project would become the second biggest tech campaign ever and set a snowball rolling down a very big hill.

Three months after that, even though we only had prototypes of our products, our community demanded that we head to our first ever CES in January 2013. I had no idea what to expect. The reality was the exact stereotype all non-geeks probably have of tech startups… a bunch of dudes in t-shirts sleeping on the floors of the house that we rented.

We set up SmartThings in the rental house far away from the strip, with beer infused 24 hours per day demos for a stream of tech press, VCs, and developers that came by to see what we were up to. TechCrunch came by and did us a solid. You can see how early we were.

The show itself was overwhelming, but clearly powerful. As I said to my co-founders, the global community of tech leadership creates a city to come together once a year for a week, and that city is CES. Two hundred thousand people attend.

Twelve more months passed, then last year it was even bigger. We had shipped to our U.S. Kickstarter base and raised our Series-A from Greylock and Highland. At CES we pioneered a concept of the “Open Smart Home” and blew out a house with our 2nd generation products and 20 participating 3rd party device partners and developers. People came in droves 2–3 tours at a time to see where we were headed, but it still felt so early. Some of the tech coverage was really fun. We still slept on the floors of the house, but there were 30 of us there.

Fast forward a year to now, and it’s a whole different ballgame.

I’m on stage alongside the Samsung CEO for the opening keynote tomorrow (was Bill Gates’ slot back in the day). SmartThings is powering a 2,200 sq ft home built in the center of the largest booth at the entire show, and much, much more behind the scenes. Samsung and SmartThings have 1,000 people at CES. I’ve got an executive suite at a sweet hotel, but will probably get back to the floor with the entire team next year.

Tune in for some big announcements tomorrow about the next steps for SmartThings and our journey forward.

It still feels early, but…. onwards!


    Alex Hawkinson

    Written by

    I create things and enjoy working with people.

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade