Viva Technology 2018
The entire founding team at Arylla was at Viva Technology last week in Paris. Viva Technology is one of Europe’s largest tech conferences – over 100K attendees with sponsors like LVMH and Google. We were invited to exhibit in the LVMH Luxury Lab, which was a district within the event dedicated to startups creating the future of luxury. This post is all about our experience at Viva Technology this year where we connected with fashion executives, saw the latest developments in visual search, learned the story behind the world’s first Maison de Champagne, and witnessed the joy brought to the world by a vodka dispensing robot bear. The future is now.
LVMH Luxury Lab
LVMH is a French luxury group that owns and manages 70 different iconic brands. Every year, LVMH selects 30 startups from around the world to exhibit in their dedicated space at Viva Technology referred to as the Luxury Lab. Benefits of being in the Lab include privileged access to executives from LVMH brands, being featured in official LVMH press releases, free coffee, and the chance to win the coveted Innovation Award. Out of more than 800 startups, 30 were selected to exhibit at the Lab and pitch to an audience of executives and investors. The Lab this year was beautifully designed, with all of the booths and the bar (managed by the Grande Épicerie) encased inside a metallic hexagonal lattice. For the nano-nerds out there, it was basically like being inside the top 30% of a buckyball.
We arrived in Paris on Wednesday afternoon and went straight to a hotel near the expo centre for a video interview. We weren’t looking very pretty (we only got about 2 hours of sleep and we spent 2 hours on a metro getting the hotel), but thankfully the interview team had a makeup artist. After the interview, we got our first sneak peek at the Luxury Lab.
On the first day of the conference we were welcomed by the one and only Bernard Arnault, CEO and Chairman of LVMH. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, also stopped to say “Bonjour” but we weren’t able to catch a glimpse over the concentric layers of bodyguards. In the afternoon, Arylla’s CEO went on stage to make the big pitch! The pitches were strictly limited to 3 minutes or else the LVMH team would sound a big cow bell at you. Pressure was on.
Ian Rogers, the Chief Digital Officer of LVMH, was joined by Mr. Arnault to announce the winner of the Innovation Award. Unfortunately Arylla was not the victor. The final prize went to a startup called Oyst who specializes in one-click online shopping (hats off to Oyst, they make a pretty cool product). This was also the day of the brands. We spent almost the entire day talking to the brands we know and love, from Louis Vuitton to Hennessy to L’Oréal. This was one of the most productive days Arylla has ever had at a conference!
The last day was the most fun because we got the chance to check out some of the other innovations in the Lab. One of our favourite exhibits showcased a metallic robot bear with a smartphone face that served people Belvedere vodka. Ruinart had also had exhibit made up of a small house with fake windows decorated so it seemed like you were looking out onto their fields in Reims. There was an iPad in the house that brought you through a visual presentation of Maison’s rich history. Another one of our favourite exhibits was the Louis Vuitton Lab, which was demonstrating the new visual search tool they developed with Heuritech (winner of the 2017 Innovation Award). You could take a photo of any handbag using their app and it would bring you to that product’s page on the brand’s e-commerce website! And of course, it wouldn’t be a true LVMH event if it wasn’t concluded with an epic dance party. Thankfully, our founding team moves like Jagger.
Viva Technology managed to be both fun and incredibly productive! Anyone reading this and running a business in Europe should definitely attend next year. We’ll see you there 😊