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MWC: Meet the French startup driving round Barcelona with a really loud speaker

Sam Shead | March 4, 2015
The 750 Watt Phantom is on sale in Harrods, London, from £1,390, while the more expensive 3,000 Watt Silver Phantom is priced at £1,690.

Exhibiting at Mobile World Congress (MWC) isn't cheap and it turns out it's not always the most effective way for a startup to spend what is often a limited marketing budget.

Getting the attention of investors and journalists as they walk passed stand after stand is hard enough at the best of times, never mind when they merge in with over 80,000 other attendees.

That's why Devialet, a Parisian startup that raised $25 million at the end of last year for its high-end Phantom speaker, has shunned the exhibition floor in favour of a glitzy stretch limousine.

The eight-year-old company hired the vehicle, along with charismatic Colombian driver Marcio, to ferry journalists and investors from hotels and apartments to MWC from Saturday to Monday.

The limo and the driver cost Devialet approximately 2,000, while a "decent" stand at MWC would have been more than £15,000, according to the company's PR manager at MWC, Dan Walsh.

"Shows like this are major, major money," he told Techworld in the back of the limo. "Unless you're paying big, big money you're getting put at the back somewhere in the corner with a tiny little stand."

But cost isn't the main reason for Devialet using the limo. "It's not a money issue. We got $25 million (£16.2 million) to develop the product so we can afford a stand. It's a philosophy matter. It's not the way we want to do it," said Romain Salzman, project manager for Phantom.

"We want to demonstrate the product," said Salzman. "Limo is not the perfect solution but it's the best solution so farwe're working on something better. We work very hard to make the product different and we don't see any benefit to being on the floor."

The company said it expects to see upwards of 15 journalists in the back of its limo during MWC.

Devialet also hosted journalists in a limo at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the start of the year.

Techworld can confirm that the compact speaker is very loud.

 

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