When Shailendra Suman showed off his prototype for an energy-conserving light bulb at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this winter, he was mostly interested in connecting with future customers, retailers and other entrepreneurs.
At last week’s trade show in Washington, “CES on the Hill,” Suman brought his LED bulb along for a different reason — to demonstrate to Washington policymakers a product that could potentially help their constituents reduce energy consumption. (The
Suman, who traveled to Capitol Hill from Matthews, N.C., for the event, was one of several entrepreneurs attending for the first time, joining established tech companies such as Motorola, Lenovo and Pandora to push Congress on issues affecting technologists. These include immigration reform, patent laws and energy efficiency mandates, among others.
Called SmartCharge, Suman’s light bulb contains a rechargeable battery so it can stay lit for up to four hours even during a power failure. In November, Sunan raised about $90,000 on Kickstarter for development of the bulb; he hopes to start mass production next month.
At CES on the Hill, Suman was pitching the SmartCharge to members of Congress as a safety solution. If policymakers could require emergency lights like his in building codes, it could boost business and potentially save energy, he explained.
But before explicitly asking policymakers to implement such legislation, Suman said, “Let’s create some awareness, about the people who are using it ... then let’s bring it back to the policy.”
Compared to CES, which draws thousands of exhibitors and attendees, CES on the Hill is much smaller, with a few hundred entrepreneurs, lawmakers and staffers roaming between two large rooms. This is the fifth year CEA has hosted the event, which drew about 40 members of Congress, up from about 32 last year, according to the association.
Though many exhibitors traveled from all over the United States, a handful — including Arlington-based
The event was also an opportunity to showcase Washington’s growing tech scene alongside companies from traditional consumer tech hubs such as parts of Silicon Valley, DashIT’s Vice President of Business Development
In DashIT’s first appearance at the event, Negretti said she discussed driver safety regulations, which would penalize people for texting while driving.
Ken Lowe, co-founder and vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based high-definition television company Vizio, was exhibiting an LED TV, 42-inch across and about an inch thick, and a wireless speaker, a display that attracted Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to his booth. The TV uses about $13 worth of power a year, Lowe said.
Lowe said he was urging senators to support legislation that would penalize patent trolls, or companies that make money by bringing patent infringement lawsuits against other companies.
“Another important one is the immigration one — it’s so hard to get people, and talented people, to stay with us because we can’t get them [to stay],” he said. “We’ve created jobs here — we’ve got 400 people working for us here and they’re all in the US.”