Posts Tagged ‘inventor’


EIGERlab’s August 2014 Newsletter | No Risk, No Reward, 2014 Inventor’s Convention

Thursday, July 31st, 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 2013FastPitch 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 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.

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.”

For the complete newsletter, click here.

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!”

Friday, March 28th, 2014

EIGERlab officials announced today that Rockford has been accepted as the 35th city in the world to have an official Code for America Brigade.

Rockford joins cities with a team of smartphone application developers running the gamut from “A,” Albany, N.Y., and Akron, Ohio, to “Z,” Zagreb, Croatia.

The brigades use available government data to build apps that improve life for residents, whether by creating a map of all daily road-construction projects or by listing where the closest flu shot clinics are to your location. By becoming a part of the Code for America “family,” Rockford app developers will be able to collaborate with the more than 3,000 volunteers worldwide.

Code for America is a nonprofit founded in 2009 to bring technology developers together with municipal governments to promote openness and efficiency in government.

Several groups, including the city of Rockford and EIGERlab, began working to attract enough tech developers to create a brigade in 2013. The goal is not only to increase the number of apps that make life easier in Rockford, but also to attract more Web-industry professionals to the area.

“We want to get the word out that we have an IT community and how do we create a brand,” EIGERlab Executive Director Dan Cataldi said. “Getting a Code for America Brigade gives us that brand that we can use to attract talented professionals.”

Jen Hall, who helps facilitate the IT Roundtable for the EIGERlab, said the brigade will begin by meeting at 9 a.m. every second Saturday of the month at EIGERlab, 605 Fulton Ave. The brigade is using to schedule more events under the group name “Code for Rockford.”

Among the group’s newest interested parties is Chris Nwakalo. Nwakalo was born in Boston, then moved to Beloit, Wis., went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and now is the chief brand and strategy officer for New Vybe Fitness in Loves Park.

“If you look at the iPhone, it’s changed the world in five years,” Nwakalo said. “When I went to Whitewater, I was surprised at the negative feelings towards Beloit. I hear a lot of the same things about Rockford. I want to learn more about Rockford’s issues and how we can use technology to address them.”

Alex Gary: 815-987-1339;

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.

B/E Aerospace helps to build Rockford’s aerospace reputation

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

ROCKFORD – Seven years ago B/E Aerospace Aircraft Ecosystems was a two-man startup working to cultivate a concept for more efficient toilet systems in commercial jets.

Today, it employs about 75 people and serves the biggest aerospace companies in the industry.

Not bad for a company that executives say is just now entering a phase of accelerated growth.

“We’re starting to increase the production volumes here,” said Mark Pondelick, vice president and general manager of B/E’s Rockford division. “Those will continue to grow over the next four to five years at a pretty rapid rate.”

The company moved into a new 38,000-square-foot building east of the Chicago Rockford International Airport in mid-2012 as it ramped up production of its potable water and vacuum waste systems. At a public showing of the space at 5795 Logistics Parkway in 2012, B/E CEO Amin Khoury said the company could make $50 million a year selling toilets to business and commercial jets within the next five years.

The company is fulfilling orders from nine business jet-makers today, including the world’s largest aerospace company Boeing, which is buying B/E’s system for its 737 program.

B/E is a top-tier industry that’s helping build Rockford’s aerospace reputation and diversifying the type of products produced locally, said Eric Voyles, vice president of National Business Development for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.

“It’s always great to have a company with that kind of reputation in our market,” Voyles said. “Even better, it’s fantastic to see the commitment they made when they decided to build a new building here to operate this new business.”

The company holds eight patents issued between June 2010 and December 2013 for its potable water and vacuum system. B/E’s new vacuum toilets are lighter, easier to maintain and more reliable than competitors, Pondelick said. It weighs half that of other systems and uses just 5 ounces of water per flush.

Pondelick said the company focuses on designing and developing a product to fit each customer’s unique situation. It also puts an emphasis on supporting the customer to make sure the product meets expectations.

“It’s not just initial design and development and making the parts, but how you support it in the field,” Pondelick said, noting the company is a Federal Aviation Administration approved repair shop.

B/E’s Rockford division was built from scratch in 2007. It’s not the typical approach for the international company based in Wellington, Fla., that’s more used to buying than building businesses. B/E attempted to buy Machesney Park-based vacuum toilet systems-maker Envirovac in 2004, but lost out on the bid to Monogram Systems. Three years later, Monogram’s former president Bob Shafer retired and was recruited to start the new division of B/E.

It became a tenant at EIGERlab, a business incubator at 605 Fulton Avenue that provides reasonably priced lease space and access to rapid product development services. It became the first EIGERlab client to move into a build-to-suit facility and within four years was ready to move into its own space near the Chicago Rockford International Airport.

“They were able to come into EIGERlab and grow their business from the day they walked into the door,” said Dan Cataldi, EIGERlab’s executive director. “They were able to create some pretty good jobs for the community and create a pretty nice business.”

Complete Rockford Register Star article.

Will Prescient Audio be Rockford’s next big thing?

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

ROCKFORD – By going small, Paul Niederman has developed some very big plans.

Niederman is the founder of Prescient Audio, a startup home-technology company launched with the idea of making a smaller yet more powerful subwoofer.

“I had this idea in college and thought about it again when I got a new car,” said Neiderman, who graduated from East High School in 1984 and then tried a variety of careers before getting a bachelor’s degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2000.

“I bought the premium audio system with the car, but there was no subwoofer, so the system was really weak,” Niederman said. “I thought I could put a subwoofer under the passenger seat, but I couldn’t find one that fit. That gave me the idea to make one myself that was small enough.”

A subwoofer is a loudspeaker dedicated to reproduction of low-pitched audio frequencies known as bass.

He worked on the project for three years, with assistance from Rockford’s EIGERlab, and came up with the ThinDriver, which allows speakers to be thinner in profile, lighter in weight, more powerful and run cooler. He’s applied for patents in 14 countries to protect the invention. The speakers can be made for anything from smartphones to laptops.

Niederman touted the invention at several investor competitions and then showed it off in 2013 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where it was named one of the top innovations at the trade show that draws about 150,000 people annually.

The hard work has drawn several local investors to Niederman’s idea, and the first of the products using the ThinDriver technology went into production in early February at a plant at 4904 Colt Road.

The ThinDriver 12-inch subwoofer – list price $999.95 – for the home audio system is available now. Later this year, Prescient will begin offering a ThinDriver loudspeaker for the car and for professional sound systems, a smartphone case with ThinDriver speakers, a dual subwoofer in a single cabinet and an in-wall subwoofer cabinet.

All of the products have to meet one clear standard.

“They have to have the wife-acceptance factor,” Niederman said. “You have to be able to hide it so it doesn’t mess with the look of a room.”

The market for his product is immense. Niederman said major electronics firms ranging from Polk Audio ($23.9 million in annual sales) and Harman International ($4.3 billion in sales) all the way up to Samsung Electronics ($188.4 billion in annual sales) have expressed interest in the technology.

“The biggest hurdle has been sourcing,” Niederman said. “I want to build it here and use as much Rockford and U.S. components as possible. The problem has been most electronics manufacturing has moved out of this country, so I had to start from scratch.”

Niederman’s ultimate goal is to have 200 employees within five years and take the company public. The Rock River Valley’s largest locally based public company is Foresight Financial, which owns a string of local banks.

“We want to have a full line of products, with different sizes and for different users, such as special subwoofers for guitar amps,” Niederman said. “We want Prescient Audio to become an electronics solutions company.”

Mark Podemski of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council said that it’s entrepreneurs like Niederman that keep a manufacturing community growing. Major local employers such as Woodward Inc. of Loves Park, Woods Equipment Co. of Oregon and Taylor Co. of Rockton all grew from one idea.

“Time will tell if Paul’s idea will be one of those that changes an industry,” Podemski said. “It has a chance. It has a market, and it’s disruptive technology. It’s exciting to see a company like this at the ground floor.”

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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.”

EIGERlab’s March 2014 Newsletter: Northwest Quarterly’s article, “EIGERlab: A Home-Grown Engine for Job Growth” | TechWorks adds Assembly program

Friday, February 28th, 2014

EIGERlab’s current newsletter includes entrepreneurial stories and events, information on EIGERlab’s TechWorks FastTrack Workforce Training and Center for Product Development, the latest from both Rock Valley College’s Illinois Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center, open positions and more! Click below to open the PDF.