Posts Tagged ‘FastPitch Competition’


FastPitch Competition winner chosen for INPEX Inventor’s Convention: No Risk, No Reward

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Adrian Vasquez and George Foreman at the 2014 INPEX Convention

Adrian Vasquez and George Foreman at the 2014 INPEX Convention

After Adrian Vasquez, inventor of the NZ3 hair product, won second place in the 2013 FastPitch Competition, he set his sights on a higher prize: being accepted to participate in the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX)—the world’s largest invention tradeshow. 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.

Since he met so many key individuals, including representatives from QVC, SkyMall Magazine, a broker in the beauty industry who is interested in handling his products exclusively, and George Foreman of George Foreman Cooking Products, Adrian shared, “It was worth every mile.”

Another accomplishment resulting from his participation is being chosen as one of 35—from a total of 400 who applied—to move to step two with QVC this September in Las Vegas. “It’s a huge compliment to be included in such an exclusive group. QVC representatives shared many tips and clues to move my business forward, such as the importance of having two applicable product markets. In regard to the NZ3, the obvious market is haircare, but the second, which I had not considered, is the pet market—a $55.7 billion dollar industry in 2013,” Adrian explained.

Adrian, who is both an inventor and owner of Totally You Hair Salon, is thankful to the staff at EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development, his local manufacturer and everyone who assisted him along his entrepreneurial journey. He stated, “As an entrepreneur and inventor, you never stop learning!”

Local ‘Shark Tank’ may be national springboard for Rockton woman’s RoomTagz business

Monday, March 17th, 2014

ROCKTON — AnnDee Nimmer was near tears minutes before she was to pitch her new business, RoomTagz, to a panel of business women.

Public speaking struck the Rockton woman as a curious fear. Before 2013, she had spent 20 years speaking daily to first-graders as a teacher for the Rockton School District.

“There’s a big difference.” Nimmer said. “Those are kids and you are trying to make the learning experience enjoyable — and they don’t judge you.”

Nimmer was one of seven women Feb. 19 to pitch their businesses during a Women’s Shark Tank Competition hosted by Enactus Rockford of Rock Valley College. Enactus is a club of aspiring business students that used to be called SIFE, for Students in Free Enterprise. The group received a grant from Wal-Mart that had to be used to benefit women in business.

So Enactus set up a competition based on “Shark Tank,” a TV show that appears at 8 p.m. Fridays on ABC. Launched in 2009 by the same team that created “Survivor,” the reality show features business owners trying to persuade a panel of judges to invest in them.

The February competition appears to be the first time a local group has tried to emulate the ABC show. Nimmer shouldn’t have worried. The panel of judges chose her business concept over the other six.

Sherry Pritz, marketing coordinator of Rockford’s EIGERlab, said the fact that Nimmer had competed in the group’s FastPitch competition in 2013 helped. Nimmer was a finalist in the annual challenge where entrepreneurs have one minute to sell their idea.

“She was very polished and she talked about a lot of the places she’s gone to sell her product,” Pritz said. “Her business has a lot of potential.”

Nimmer won $1,000 for taking first place in Shark Tank, “which I definitely need,” she said, plus office space and computer time at the EIGERlab in Rockford.

She’s not sure how much she’ll use the office space. She runs her business out of her home. Instead, she said, she is more excited to be working with the Enactus students as well as the professionals at RVC’s Small Business Development Center because she needs mentors to help her find more customers.

Fifteen years ago, Nimmer said she was frustrated by how difficult it is to find specific rooms in schools because there’s usually nothing to identify them except for room numbers. She created two-sided signs she could hang from the ceiling.

Then in 2012, Nimmer was caught up in the aftermath of The Great Recession.

The Rockton School District, faced with declining enrollment and a flattening of its once rapidly increasing property tax revenues, eliminated 18 certified teaching positions and an assistant principal’s job and reduced the hours of non-certified staff to cut $1.3 million from its budget.

Nimmer was one of the teaching cuts.

With districts all over struggling with the same budget problems, Nimmer needed a new career and decided to try to turn her signs into her livelihood.

Produced by Interstate Graphics of Machesney Park, the custom signs she sells can be hung from a ceiling or attached to a wall. At first, she took out ads in teaching industry magazines. She also contracted a former student, Chris Luttig, to create a website for her. Then she attended some conferences to show off her product.

“I thought teachers were going to be my market, but I found out it was principals,” Nimmer said.

She was extremely happy with her initial year of sales.

Her first was to a principal of Indian Camp Elementary School in Pawhuska, Okla. She now has signs in 39 schools in 21 states. The potential market is huge. As of 2010, there were 132,183 public and private elementary and high schools in the United States.

“When I went to do my taxes I had $53,000 in sales,” she said. “But once I started entering my costs — how much it cost to make and ship the signs and the travel costs to the conferences — I really didn’t make anything.”

Nimmer said she was happy to go from one sale a month to one a week, “but I really need to get to one a day.

That’s where she hopes working with Enactus and the small business development center will get her. And the Shark Tank victory may pay more dividends. This past week Nimmer was contacted by an associate producer of ABC’s “Shark Tank” to discuss the possibility of her appearing on their show.

That, of course, would raise her public speaking fear to a whole new level.

“I’m scared beyond belief, but this isn’t an opportunity/invitation you say no thank you to,” she said.

Are you interested in ACCELerating your company’s growth? Increasing your profits? EIGERlab’s expert business coaches and partners will assist!

Friday, February 28th, 2014


Paul Niedermann, owner of Prescient Audio partnered with the EIGERlab’s leaders, and their business development associates, to start his business and commercialize his invention. During his recent press conference, Paul shared that he is ready to ramp up production of his music and smartphone-related products.

Where did he start?
Paul simultaneously met with business coaches from the EIGERlab and the IL Small Business Development Center at RVC. He received business development assistance—necessary for starting and running a business—and product development assistance for perfecting his invention. This included utilizing a portion of EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development services; engineering and additive manufacturing.

How did he acquire funding?
In the beginning, Paul bootstrapped the business including spending his savings, and, of course, contributions from “Family, Friends and Fools.” Winning second place in the 2012 FastPitch Competition assisted with services from the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center. But, during the 2013 FastPitch World Series event, Paul hit a home run when a local investor heard his pitch and decided to provide both financial assistance and guidance. On February 20th, Prescient Audio started its Kickstarter crowdfunding efforts, which will run through March 4th.

What additional ACCELerator services did EIGERlab’s coaches and partners provide?
After both his business and financial plans were started, Paul met with EIGERlab’s CTeam; C standing for commercialization. CTeam’s core group of professionals have owned, managed, bought and/or sold businesses and therefore bring solid expertise to start-up or existing businesses of any size. In addition, EIGERlab’s leaders reach out to the regional business community to seek the appropriate experts to address an entrepreneur’s specific industry-related issues. Paul and his management team received sound advice which refined his business development thought-process and next steps.

Where is Paul’s business today?
Paul and his partners have recently purchased a building in Rockford, and plan to manufacture and assemble their products locally. They had the forethought to buy a sizeable building with room for expansion, including a dedicated R & D space, which will allow Paul to continually work on the “next big thing.”