As a 45-year beauty industry veteran, Adrian Vasquez, co-owner of Totally You Hair Salon, has seen countless fads, styles, and related products come and go. But innovation is always in style. When Adrian joined the ranks of NIU EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition winners in 2013, he was assured of the viability of his invention, the revolutionary NZ3 hair dryer Smart Nozzle. Since then, he has stayed the course to entrepreneurial success.
Proving the Market
Part of Adrian’s daily routine consists of communicating with his clients, and stakeholders in his business. He has the unique opportunity to use his salon as a test market, and request that both his colleagues and clients do the same.
To complete his market research, he shared his invention with a select group of colleagues and clients, and was elated at the positive feedback. Its unique design assists with drying hair more quickly and smoothly. The hair dryer’s ergonomic design results in less fatigue, which is especially important for those working in the beauty industry.
As an official tester for Loreal, the world’s largest beauty company, esthetician and Salon Centric sales rep, Tammy Eurek shared that she’s totally sold on the NZ3 professional hair dryer with 3-way Smart Nozzle. “I don’t care how many hair dryers they send me to test, there’s nothing comparable to the NZ3 system to dry, style, and straighten my clients hair.”
Five years later, with his design patent in hand, he deems his invention a commercial success! Adrian shared, “It’s been a very long road. With hindsight being 20-20, I believe I would have made some alternate decisions, but for the most part, the vendors I chose to partner with including NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development and the Small Business Development Center were ideal allies.” If down the road, he elects to sell his business, Adrian realizes that the drudgery of the patent process was well worth his time and effort since it will result in a more attractive business opportunity.
Along the way, he’s always felt like a student on a life-long learning path. When he is not running one of his two businesses, Adrian immersed himself in the entrepreneurial world attending workshops, reading blogs, books—whatever he can glean from other successful entrepreneurs. “I’d highly recommend books on tape, etc. Do the groundwork by learning as much as possible about not only your product, but your competitors product,” shared Adrian.
In 2014 he was accepted to participate at the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX)-the world’s largest invention trade show. INPEX provides a forum for inventors to exhibit their inventions and pitch their ideas with companies interested in licensing, marketing and manufacturing their new products. He felt fortunate to be accepted less than one year after participating in the FastPitch Competition. Meeting George Foreman, a key person associated with INPEX, provided inspiration.
Where do millions of people turn to first to complete research or shop? The Internet. “My last bit of advice is to embrace the 800 pound shopping gorilla, Amazon,” exclaimed Adrian. It’s the largest shopping center in the world.
FastPitch countdown: three month out!
Join Adrian and other successful and aspiring entrepreneurs at the 12th annual FastPitch Competition on October 3. NIU EIGERlab is pleased to welcome First Northern Credit Union as a presenting sponsor for 2018. Would you like to associate your company’s name with this exciting event? Call Sherry at 815.753.2192 to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
To learn more about NIU EIGERlab’s other programs and services, visit www.EIGERlab.org or phone 815.753.2192.