I can vividly remember our experience at our first NGA Show just one year ago. We were the new kids on the block. Walking the halls of The Mirage in Las Vegas in colorful T-shirts, just happy to be there, but knowing nobody, and not really knowing what to expect.
The days were long that first year. Only one pre-set meeting, and very unclear expectations for our first time introducing AppCard to the world of independent grocers.
One thing was for sure; we were in the right place.
The show was top notch, over 3,000 thought leaders and decision makers from the independent grocery industry were present, and we were surrounded by tradeshow booths from food to technology to media vendors. We should know, we had plenty of down time to walk the aisles and taste the food.
Everyone knew each other, they were coming together for their annual meeting, “Where Independents Gather,” a real brotherhood and family feeling … for those who were in the circle of trust of course.
We couldn’t close as much as the front door. It wasn’t about that, and perhaps we were naive to think otherwise at the time. This was about earning trust. This was about learning the lay of the land, and respecting it. This was about understanding the industries’ dynamics and intricacies. This was about establishing a brand in a new industry, despite the fact that we were 4.5 years old at the time.
Throughout 2016 we invested heavily in earning that trust and creating our brand presence. We joined multiple state associations. We invested in speaking engagements with share groups. We created relationships with wholesalers of varying sizes including Unified Grocers, MDI, and Certco. We partnered with complementary technology providers for grocers. We were able to get a dozen independent grocers onto the platform. We listened and learned, a lot. We took our lumps and swallowed our pride. We were patient. We tested and failed and tweaked and tested again and improved significantly. We perfected our product and enhanced our platform. We grew up and we matured.
Fast forward to The NGA Show 2017; what a difference a year makes!
I can’t begin to describe how quickly the event went by. We lost our voices and ran out of business cards. Owners had to come back 3 and 4 times just to squeeze into the booth for a demo. Folks we had met the year prior came back to the booth and signed right on the spot … some from as far as away as Hawaii … Aloha!
Word of mouth was our best ally, and we couldn’t thank our friends and partners in the industry enough, they know who they are. We have no idea what vendors were present this year because we didn’t have a free moment to walk the aisles, not a single aisle, not a single food sample tasted!
Another record breaking year as 3,400 of the industry’s best and brightest showed up ready to learn, share, engage, and celebrate the industry and each other. We couldn’t have been happier with the results. We couldn’t be more thankful for the partnerships and friendships we’ve established.
The NGA Show truly is “Where Independents Gather,” and the AppCard team, and our year of hard work and determination, proved that if you invest in this community, bring value, and stand arm in arm with them, they will gather around you.
Here’s to 2017, it’s going to be a good one. See you back at The Mirage in 2018, just be sure to make an appointment ;-)!!