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Entrepreneur invests in the region for future business growth

AnnDee Nimmer, CEO of RoomTagz™, draws inspiration from her surroundings. As an entrepreneur, she has committed to future growth of her company and her community with the purchase of a 1700-square foot building just outside downtown Rockton.

“In this beautiful setting, just a stone’s throw from the Rock River, I can envision most of my phone calls and employee strategizing sessions being held outside,” AnnDee shared.

In her previous career as a teacher, AnnDee observed that a lack of clear and consistent signage was leading to confusion and wasted time in school hallways. Her company’s signature invention, RoomTagz™, is an innovative solution to wayfinding in schools. Early in her entrepreneurial journey, AnnDee took advantage of local small business development resources. Thus far, she’s competed in two of NIU EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competitions and was one of the top winners in 2018. She has worked with representatives from both NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) who assist entrepreneurs and small businesses with both the startup and expansion essentials.

The culmination of these meetings has resulted in AnnDee being able to share her ideas in a cohesive manner and put together an action plan for the development of her business.

“The SBDC really emphasizes the importance of customer feedback,” she said. “With the ability to connect with hundreds of my current customers, that was an easy task, and the results were enlightening. I was also referred to a Bridgeway, a company that assists businesses with a variety of tasks including fulfillment, which allowed me more time to manage the business.”

Sustainability during business development is key to future success. With the support of NIU EIGERlab, SBDC and others, AnnDee was able to refine her profit margins to improve the sustainability of the company. She was also introduced to local lenders whose goals are to assist new or expanding small businesses.

AnnDee first competed in the FastPitch Competition in 2013 and wasn’t satisfied with her performance. She challenged herself to improve by attending the training classes and put in additional practice on the side.

“I feel that the biggest difference between competing in 2013, and winning third place five years later, was having some experience under my belt which gave me more confidence. I’ve been quite fortunate that the demand for my product has doubled year after year, with an unprecedented 60-65% growth curve. These results prove that I’m on the right track, and felt sure I had a chance at one of the prizes. I’ve already recommended FastPitch to others. I’m thankful for all of the entrepreneurial support and opportunities that are available in our community,” shared AnnDee.

The possibilities The purchase of her new building will make an impact on AnnDee’s ability to hire key individuals to assist with expansion and move forward with new product lines that she’s envisioned.

“When you’re a solopreneur wearing all of the hats, there is little time for executing next steps or creative thinking. I will finally be able to work on my business versus always working in my business,” shared AnnDee. Once the building is fully renovated, her plans include earning additional revenues by renting the space out for meetings, and other entrepreneurial-based activities, which will further enhance Rockton’s entrepreneurial culture.

“I have an endless flow of ideas and love bouncing them off of customers and partners. My business is all about creating a more welcoming, positive and safer school environment,” said AnnDee. As she adds staff, she will be able to grow the business strategically and improve marketing efforts.

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