Archive for ‘News’ Category

 

Rockford’s SockTABs couple to make live pitch Monday on Home Shopping Network

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

ROCKFORD — After successfully pitching their SockTABs invention to a group of investors on “Shark Tank” last November, Glen and Tracie Burress are ready to stand before a different sea of people: American consumers.

They will travel from Rockford to Tampa Sunday to appear on “The Monday Night Show with Adam Freeman: The American Dreams Edition,” a series on HSN, formerly Home Shopping Network.

It airs at 6 p.m. Monday and will highlight several successful entrepreneurs across the country.

During the show, Glen and Tracie will demonstrate how to use SockTABs, pins that connect to the top of the socks so they never lose their “sole mates.” They hope viewers will call the phone number at the bottom of the screen to order the product.

Their appearance will air live, though they’ll have the morning to prep and train.

“Any mistakes you make could be difficult to correct,” Glen said. “Not only that, it’s more of a sales pitch. Your product is in front of America and you have to try to convey to them they need to pull out their credit card and order it. There’s a little more pressure to sell to the consumer.”

When Glen and Tracie were on “Shark Tank,” the panel of celebrity business moguls initially passed on their investment offer, sending the Rockford residents nearly out the door empty-handed. That’s when Daymond John had a change of heart and offered to invest $50,000 in exchange for 30 percent of ownership in SockTABs.

John began collaborating with HSN in 2015 to help find entrepreneurs worth showcasing. He pulled strings to get Glen and Tracie on the segment, which has a dedicated following, Tracie said.

“It’s a very rigorous process to get on HSN on your own,” she said. “Damon introduced us to the appropriate people.”

Other inventors have launched major careers by first appearing on HSN, most notably Joy Mangano, who has sold more than 700 million Huggable Hangars and was the subject of the recent Oscar nominee “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence.

“When Daymond John first introduced us to Tracie and Glen Burress of SockTABs, we immediately knew they both had the three key ingredients to being successful on HSN: a great product with a great story told by great storytellers,” HSN President Bill Brand said in a statement emailed to the Register Star. “Our business was created on the idea that you can have a concept, develop a plan and bring it to fruition all in one place, and we could not be more excited to collaborate with Tracie and Glen as they launch their brand to our 95 million homes.”

Since sealing a deal on national TV in November, Glen and Tracie have seen plenty of success in addition to their professional jobs — he’s a pediatric gastroenterologist, she’s a pharmaceutical sales rep. SockTABs will soon be available in Bed, Bath & Beyond stores, and SockTABs have been acclaimed by the visually impaired community, they said.

In the early stages of SockTABs, Glen and Tracie connected with Northern Illinois University’s EIGERlab, a business incubator out of the NIU-Rockford Education Center, 8500 E. State St. The program helped them with the initial design and modifications, as well as product development, commercialization and creating a business model. Glen and Tracie were also schooled in how to make a strong business pitch, something that helped them secure an investment on the pressure cooker that is “Shark Tank.”

Their success is a good sign for EIGERlab, said Executive Director Dan Cataldi.

“It shows that we’re doing what we should be doing,” he said. “EIGERlab is about entrepreneurship and commercialization of innovation. In Tracie and (Glen’s) case, it helped with entrepreneurship and on the innovation and technical side.”

EIGERlab doesn’t receive a cut of the profits or royalties, Cataldi said.

Glen and Tracie were featured as two of the Rockford Register Star’s People to Watch in 2016.

Rockford Register Star link.

People to Watch 2016: Rockford inventors Glenn and Tracie Burress gain momentum after TV appearance

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

This article is part of our People to Watch special section, which publishes Sunday. Each year we highlight some of the most intriguing, passionate and community-minded people in the Rock River Valley.

ROCKFORD — Tracie and Glenn Burress are putting Rockford’s best foot forward with their invention, sockTABs. The couple’s colorful pins that connect socks so they never lose their “sole” mates have gone international after they appeared on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank” on Nov. 20. Daymond John, one of the show’s investors and CEO of the FUBU apparel line, offered to invest $50,000 in sockTABs in exchange for 30 percent ownership in their company.A viewing party for the couple’s prime-time TV appearance drew hundreds to Big Al’s Bar at Giovanni’s. It was a rowdy, joyous event filled with lots of cheers and libations.

“The amount of community support from Rockford has been unimaginable,” Tracie Burress said. “If I was back home in Chicago I would not receive this kind of support.”

Rockford Register Star link.

NIU EIGERlab Helps Rockford to Meet the Future

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The next manufacturing revolution is around the corner, and Rockford will be ready for it – if NIU EIGERlab has its way. Discover how Rockford’s business accelerator is connecting with key players and changing its game.

Evolution is a difficult pill to swallow. Businesses must adapt to changing markets and technologies, but openly embracing change presents hazards. Sameness is comfort.

Lucky for Rockford, adaptability is where EIGERlab excels.

Now under the umbrella of Northern Illinois University (NIU), Rockford’s business accelerator is undergoing another shift in its model, this time with an eye on new technology. Since it was acquired by NIU in late 2014, NIU EIGERlab has refocused its mission to create in Rockford a regional hub for innovation.

To hear executive director Dan Cataldi speak of it, refocusing NIU EIGERlab isn’t so dissimilar from growing a business. All businesses must adapt and pivot with changing realities.

“NIU EIGERlab has all of the traditional needs of a growing business, so we need to continually focus on who our customers are and what value we can bring to their enterprises,” says Cataldi.

If all goes according to plan, this “Pivot 3.0,” as Cataldi calls it, could help to position the region as a leader in the next generation of manufacturing.

Click here for the complete article.

Updating Today’s Workforce: 3D Platform & NIU’s EIGERlab Collaborate on 3D Printing Educational Materials

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Students on the precipice of graduating can now look forward to a host of new resources as 3D Platform and Northern Illinois University’s EIGERlab Center for Product Development come together in a partnership developing a range of 3D printing educational modules and curricula.

As 3D Platform, based in Roscoe, Illinois, has been working continually to provide users with tools far above and beyond just the basic essentials of what’s needed, we’ve been following their progress as they’ve continued to expand and evolve, promoting unlimited creativity, self-sustainability in design and manufacturing, affordability, quality, and speed. As their direction turns to the student force, 3D Platform’s collaboration with NIU’s EIGERlab should pack a power punch of enrichment for those getting ready to enter the career force.

Click here for the complete article.

NIU EIGERlab December 2015 Newsletter

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Center for Product Development to host News Conference, Open House and Innovation Tuesday Meetup

You’re Invited!

Clients, partners and innovators are invited to check out the new location of the NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development during a series of activities at the center on Tuesday, December 8.

NIU EIGERlab and 3D Platform will be announcing a strategic partnership. 3D Platform is a leading manufacturer of large-scale, industrial-class 3D printers. Based in Roscoe, Illinois, 3D Platform is a company of skilled mechatronics engineers who embraces rapid advances in technology to innovate, design, and build next generation equipment for rapid prototyping.

NIU EIGERlab hosts a monthly Innovation Tuesday Meetup. December’s Meetup will cap off the December 8 activities, including presenters on the changing world of 3D design, new 3D printer platforms and current advancements in 3D print materials.

When: Tuesday, December 8

2 PM | News Conference

3:00 – 5:30 PM | Open house

5:30 – 7:30 PM | Innovation Tuesday Meetup
Speakers from: 3D Platform, Computer Aided Technology (CATI) and the Center for Product
Development Center

Where: NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development, 5299 Zenith Parkway, Loves Park, IL
815.965.3522 | Northwest of Rock Cut State Park and the new Woodward location between Perryville and Forest Hills roads

Register for the Innovation Tuesday meetup online via Meetup or email, spritz@nulleigerlab.org.


NIU’s President Baker, “Fueling the Region’s Economic Engine”

America doesn’t make things anymore.

We’ve all heard that sadly common complaint, and maybe we’ve thought it true. But, I’m happy to say, the naysayers who spread that idea are entirely wrong.

Proof that our country is still working – still dreaming, still brainstorming, still building, still creating the kinds of jobs that forge a prosperous future – came earlier this week in Rockford.

I made trips Monday and Tuesday to the Forest City, the first to celebrate the news that the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute will open its first chapter there and, one day later, to mark the 20th anniversary of NIU-Rockford and exciting changes to the NIU EIGERlab.

For businesses and the people they employ, these announcements offered good news about the “stateline” region and illustrated the depth of our commitment to helping drive the economy.

Rockford’s DMDII chapter is “the place” for area small- and medium-sized manufacturers “to share ideas, develop and learn about industry-changing new technologies and contribute to the American manufacturing revolution.”

Those aren’t my words.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and other elected officials and local business leaders heard that from Dean Bartles, executive director of DMDII and chief manufacturing officer for UI LABS, of which the institute is a collaboration.

Click here for the complete article.


Burress’ secure “Shark Tank” connection

CONGRATULATIONS to Tracie and Glen Burress! November 20th it was announced that they made a connection with “Shark Tank’s” shark, Daymond John, CEO of FUBU.

Daymond’s company, “FUBU is an American clothing and hip hop apparel company. It includes casual wear, sportswear, a suit collection, eyewear, belts, and shoes. The name is considered to be an acronym for “For Us By Us”.  

Click here to visit the sockTABs website. 

Please see the “NIU EIGERlab in the News” section below for  the Burress’ media coverage.

Click here for the complete December Newsletter.

NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development to host News Conference, Open House and Innovation Tuesday Meetup

Friday, December 4th, 2015

NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development to host News Conference,
Open House and Innovation Tuesday
Meetup

Clients, partners and innovators are invited to check out the new location of the NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development during a series of activities at the center on Tuesday, December 8.

NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development (C4PD) is a one-stop, comprehensive innovation resource supporting the region with leading edge advanced manufacturing technologies. The C4PD provides product development and commercialization services to the region’s entrepreneurs, innovators and business owners who are focused on designing and commercializing physical and digital products.

NIU EIGERlab and 3D Platform will be announcing a strategic partnership. 3D Platform is a leading manufacturer of large-scale, industrial-class 3D printers. Based in Roscoe, Illinois, 3D Platform is a company of skilled mechatronics engineers who embraces rapid advances in technology to innovate, design, and build next generation equipment for rapid prototyping.

NIU EIGERlab hosts a monthly Innovation Tuesday Meetup. December’s Meetup will cap off the December 8 activities, including presenters on the changing world of 3D design, new 3D printer platforms and current advancements in 3D print materials.

When: Tuesday, December 8

2 PM | News Conference

                3:00 – 5:30 PM | Open house

5:30 – 7:30 PM | Innovation Tuesday Meetup
Speakers from: 3D Platform, Computer Aided Technology (CATI) and the Center for Product
Development

Where: NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development, 5299 Zenith Parkway, Loves Park, IL
815.965.3522 | Northwest of Rock Cut State Park and the new Woodward location between Perryville and Forest Hills roads

Register: online via Meetup or via email, spritz@nulleigerlab.org.

Rockford couple hope to knock socks off celebrity judges on ‘Shark Tank’

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Tracie and Glen Burress will pitch their sockTABs product on the hit ABC show Friday

ROCKFORD — A Rockford couple will swim with celebrity tycoons on the ABC hit show “Shark Tank” on Friday while making a sales pitch that could take their business to the next level.

Tracie and Glen Burress have turned their solution to a vexing laundry problem into an entrepreneurial adventure. In June 2014, the husband-and-wife team won the $5,000 prize for the Stateline FastPitch Competition for local entrepreneurs with sockTABs, a product that’s similar in size to a cuff link and keeps socks together from the hamper to the washer to the dryer so that each one of your socks never loses its “sole” mate.

They flew to Los Angeles in June and taped an episode of “Shark Tank” in hopes of obtaining the financing needed to take sockTABs to the big time. The show has aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of accomplished businesspeople in hopes of winning an investment.

“We’re not allowed to talk about what happens on the episode until after it airs,” Tracie Burress said. “All I can say is that the show is called ‘Shark Tank’ for a reason.”

The Burresses have engaged a California company to manufacture their product, which already has a foot in the door at several local retailers. SockTABs are available in a variety of colors and sold in packs of 24 tabs for $9.99 at socktabs.com and at Crimson Ridge, 735 N. Perryville Road;Porch, 3065 N. Perryville Road; b jones Boutique, 1655 N. Alpine Road; and Tom Harmer Sporting Goods, 6550 E. Riverside Blvd.

Socks play more than a minor role in the city’s history. In 1873, Rockford businessman John Nelson revolutionized the way socks were made when he invented and patented a parallel row knitting machine capable of making a seamless sock. Years later, the beloved sock monkey doll was made from the company’s popular red-heeled socks.

The Burresses developed sockTABs with the help of Northern Illinois University’s EIGERlab, the Rockford-based business incubator at the NIU-Rockford Education Center, 8500 E. State St., where individuals involved in startups and existing businesses develop products and commercialize ideas and have access to design engineering and rapid prototyping services.

Anywhere from 100 to 200 people engage the EIGERlab every year to develop a business plan for their product, manufacture a prototype, finesse a marketing plan or seek advice on how to commercialize their entrepreneurial idea, said marketing coordinator Sherry Pritz.

“People come to EIGERlab from all over the Rockford area and from Wisconsin and Chicago to get help with their business ideas,” Pritz said. “We’re very excited for Tracie and Glen, no matter what happens on the show. Because just the exposure to millions of people who watch Shark Tank — how do you beat that?” Click here for the complete article and photos.

NIU President highlights University’s Regional Impact

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Fueling the Region’s Economic Engine

America doesn’t make things anymore.

We’ve all heard that sadly common complaint, and maybe we’ve thought it true. But, I’m happy to say, the naysayers who spread that idea are entirely wrong.

Proof that our country is still working – still dreaming, still brainstorming, still building, still creating the kinds of jobs that forge a prosperous future – came earlier this week in Rockford.

I made trips Monday and Tuesday to the Forest City, the first to celebrate the news that the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute will open its first chapter there and, one day later, to mark the 20th anniversary of NIU-Rockford and exciting changes to the NIU EIGERlab.

For businesses and the people they employ, these announcements offered good news about the “stateline” region and illustrated the depth of our commitment to helping drive the economy.

Rockford’s DMDII chapter is “the place” for area small- and medium-sized manufacturers “to share ideas, develop and learn about industry-changing new technologies and contribute to the American manufacturing revolution.”

Those aren’t my words.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and other elected officials and local business leaders heard that from Dean Bartles, executive director of DMDII and chief manufacturing officer for UI LABS, of which the institute is a collaboration.

Dr. Bartles gave credit to NIU – and Rena Cotsones, head of the NIU Office for Regional Engagement-Rockford, in particular – for our partnership, leadership and stewardship in initiating, developing and creating the DMDII chapter model, which now will be replicated across the country.

Regional manufacturers that tap into the DMDII expertise will discover how to innovate together in ways that improve and accelerate production processes. While doing so, they will generate jobs, boost profits and share in work that restores America’s competitive edge around the world.

Our anniversary festivities Tuesday included the official launch of the NIU EIGERlab Coworking Space in what formerly was the NIU-Rockford library. Professionals with bright ideas and unlimited ambition can gather there to fire up their laptops, chat with kindred spirits and meet with business partners and mentors.

NIU EIGERlab also hosts the FastPitch Competition, inviting entrepreneurs to present their business plans in hopes of monetary prizes and invaluable exposure and networking. The level of energy and innovation there is infectious.

Beyond our initiatives to expand the Rockford region’s innovation capacity, we’re also making a difference in the lives of students there.

Many of the same faces at Monday’s DMDII celebration were familiar to me from our news conference in late August to launch the NIU-Rock Valley College Engineering Program. Students can complete NIU bachelor’s and master’s degrees without ever leaving the RVC campus.

Scholarships to NIU are available, once again, to the high school that wins the Bergstrom Stateline Quiz Bowl. Season Two began last month, and we’re thrilled to see the number of teams in competition has soared from 22 to 32.

Valuable scholarships also are one mission of our wonderful alumni in the NIU Rockford Alumni Club, which annually awards the David and Diane Graf Rockford Freshman Business Scholarship to high-achieving, well-rounded and deserving students from Boone, Winnebago, Ogle and Stephenson counties.

Continued engagement with the Rock River Valley is critical not only for the residents who are building and living productive lives there but for NIU as well. We want the region’s best and brightest to earn NIU degrees, keep our companies growing, create new businesses and maintain northern Illinois as the place that talented people love to call home.

Together forward,

Doug

Northern Illinois University celebrates 20 years of collaboration in Rockford

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Under NIU’s direction, a retooled EIGERlab offers an array of services for entrepreneurs and established businesses

ROCKFORD — Northern Illinois Universitycelebrated the 20th anniversary of its Rockford satellite center Monday with public tours ofEIGERlab, a metaphorical watering hole of business incubation serving entrepreneurs a cocktail of innovation and collaboration.

The university acquired the Rockford-based business incubator in December 2014 and is expanding its offerings to budding entrepreneurs to foster economic growth in the region. The lab is housed at the NIU-Rockford Education Center, 8500 E. State St., which has engaged thousands of students, clients and community members for classes, meetings and special events. EIGERlab helps individuals involved with startups and existing businesses develop products, commercialize ideas and learn new skills. It also offers design engineering and rapid prototyping services.

The university, in recognition of the 20th anniversary, has refashioned the education center library into the “NIU EIGERlab CoWorking Space” to further foster business collaboration. Dave Shoutlz recently launched his own AutoCAD business to automate design work for local manufacturers. The Rockford entrepreneur toured the EIGERlab’s new home — it was previously housed in northwest Rockford — and is excited about the possibilities it poses for his startup business.

“AutoCAD automation has so many possibilities,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunities in Rockford. What used to take four hours to engineer can now be done in four minutes. Right now I’m working out of my house. The possibility of using this space — I’m excited about that.”

The array of services offered at EIGERlab is extensive, said its director, Dan Cataldi.

“In this space, we are continuing the EIGERlab tradition and expanding it by building an energetic ecosystem of soloprenuers, early stage product-based growth companies and existing private business owners,” he said. “Entrepreneurs can access business coaching mentors, investor networks and anything else to accelerate the commercialization of their business ideas.”

Isaac Guerrero: 815-987-1361; iguerrero@nullrrstar.com; @isaac_rrs

Get engaged at EIGERlab

The Northern Illinois University EIGERlab, 8500 E. State St., hosts monthly meetups for entrepreneurs and interested members of the public. Future topics will include product development, 3-D prototyping/printing and business coaching. For a schedule of offerings and for more information about EIGERlab, call the resource center at 815-753-2192 or contact Director Dan Cataldi at dcataldi@eigerlab or Marketing Coordinator/Business Development Coordinator Sherry Pritz at spritz@eigerlab.

Click here for the complete article and photos.

NIU EIGERlab Opens New Co-Working Space for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — It’s been 20 years since Northern Illinois University began welcoming hundreds of thousands of students and community members to their Rockford campus for classes, meetings, gatherings, and special events. As part of the celebration, the university is launching the NIU EIGERlab co-working space.

EIGERlab is a Rockford business accelerator, acquired by NIU from the Rockford Area Development Council last year.

The NIU EIGERlab serves the region with business acceleration and product development services.

Now, businesses and community members can use the space at the NIU-Rockford facility on East State Street.

Entrepreneurs will be able to access coaching, ask mentors questions, and get the resources necessary to expand their ideas.

President of NIU, Douglas Baker, says, “The EIGERlab is really an innovation center that will help entrepreneurs start their businesses from idea, all the way to actually running the business. So we provide both equipment, as well as the mentoring for both the technical and business side.”

“Whether we talk about sewing machines in the early days or fasteners, or aerospace, Rockford has always been a manufacturing community that has reinvented itself, explains Dan Cataldi, the Executive Director of NIU EIGERlab. “This hub is going to continue to allow us to be on the leading edge of innovation for physical and digital products.”

The co-working space is located at the NIU-Rockford facility on East State St. The NIU EIGERlab Center for Product Development is on Zenith Parkway in Loves Park. That’s where the manufacturing machines and 3-D printing technologies are located. Click here to view WIFR’s coverage.

 
 
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