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Category: Product Launch

  • Support the O-Rings Crowdfunding Campaign on Indiegogo

    Product Pitch Competition winner: O-Rings

     

    Recent Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduates, Maeve Jopson and Cynthia Poon caught the entrepreneurial bug during a school project senior year and in their own words, it’s been a wild ride ever since. After graduation, they dove head first into developing their product, the O-Rings, a full body sensory toy that is designed for all kids to play with and learn from regardless of abilities, age or gender. Since winning the “Ready for Crowdfunding” category at our Product Pitch event this past March, they’ve been busy preparing for their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.We are proud to share that after months of hard work, their campaign is LIVE and there are only a few weeks left to support them.

    Please help us to support O-Rings during these last few weeks and read through a recent conversation to learn more about the duo and then watch their video. Want to support Increment Studios and their product, O-Rings on Indiegogo? Donate here.

     

    What is Increment Studios and O-Rings?

    Increment creates sensory play things to encourage independence and exploration among all kids regardless of age, ability or gender. The O-Rings are a full body sensory toy and each of the rings is a different color, size, texture, and filling designed for engaged tactile play.

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  • Now Launching: Sustainable Businesses in the USA

    Here at The Grommet, our MO is to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs and new to market products. But we aren’t the only ones on a mission to help Makers.

    Shannon Whitehead is the Founder of Factory45, a new accelerator program that gives independent makers the resources to start sustainable businesses in the USA.

    I was lucky enough to interview Shannon and learn more about this new initiative, what she see’s in the Maker landscape and why she felt compelled to start Factory45.

    startup accelerator - Made in the USA

    What is your background? How did you get into being a sustainable clothing consultant?

    In 2010 I co-founded {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable clothing company for female travelers and minimalists. We launched a Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2011 for our signature piece, the Versalette, one garment that can be worn over 20 different ways. We became the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history at that time and were featured in The New York Times, Forbes.com, WSJ.com and Yahoo! News.

    In the beginning of 2013, I started a small consulting company to help other designers and sustainable apparel brands launch and grow their own businesses. Realizing that I most enjoy working with startups, I launched an accelerator program at the beginning of April called Factory45. Starting on June 2nd, I’ll be working with 10 people, for six months, to launch sustainable businesses in the USA. (Applications are open now until April 28, 2014.)

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  • The Grommet Meets BEAMS

    Citizen Commerce - Grommet meets BEAMS

    One of the ways The Grommet extends the concept of Citizen Commerce is by pursuing new opportunities for our Makers. Seeing them grow their businesses and succeed is the main objective. We’re very excited to share our collaboration with the iconic Japanese lifestyle brand BEAMS and to share with you the collection of Grommets their team selected to be offered for sale through Rakuten Ichiba.

    Citizen Commerce - Grommet meets BEAMS

    BEAMS is well known in Japan for its carefully curated product selections. They have 30 different brands, and each one features beautifully designed retail shops that are merchandised by the look and feel of the products, making shopping a comfortable and delightful experience. They offer men's, women's and children's apparel and accessories, as well as home goods, luggage and music.

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  • Hickies is Kickin' Off Their Newest Kickstarter Campaign

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    We always say that when our Makers succeed, we succeed. This is an integral part of our mission so when one of our Makers hits a milestone, we shout it from the rooftops and when they need support, we shout that as well.

    We couldn't be happier to see all the success that our Maker, Hickies has received over the past few years and they recently announced venture capital funding to grow their business even further. This is big news for them, but also for the consumer products industry as a whole since VC funding for those involved in the Maker Movement is less common. Hopefully this signals a shift in the industry and the interest of VC firms.

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  • How to Get PR for Your New Business

    How to Get PR | Tips from Makers

    Building a business is hard, and if you're new to entrepreneurship, it can be difficult to learn on the go. There are so many aspects to think about and while you might have your head down building the best business you can, it's crucial to look up and ask yourself "once I build it, will they come?" The truth is getting them in the door also takes a lot of work. One crucial aspect of attracting the press and customers your young business needs is PR and Marketing. It's what helps you build your brand, drive awareness and gets people in the door shopping. However, the challenge for many Makers is that PR is just plain hard. 

    For a new business, those initial sales are critical. A strong marketing campaign will help and today we're going to touch on the importance of Public Relations. PR is something that everyone knows they need, yet few know how to successfully go about it. It's a skill that includes reading relevant news daily, making relationships and creating strong content that attracts reporters and consumers. One of our Grommet Makers, Michelle Isrow from Undercover Tape, has a natural knack for attracting press to her product. When I first spoke with Michelle, I was surprised and thrilled to see that Undercover Tape had been featured in high level publications like Real Simple and Daily Candy. She went on to describe all the hard work she put into getting those press hits and we're sharing many of her tips here today. Read more below for our conversation about PR for new businesses.

    How to Get PR | Tips from Grommet Maker, Undercover Tape Michelle and Michele, Co-Founders of Undercover Tape

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    You were lucky enough to earn high level coverage on your own. That is no easy feat. How did you do it?

    My business partner, Michelle and I are proud of the press we've received. It's been a lot of hard work and persistence. I began my PR journey with the help of a good friend named Google. Parents are the biggest customer base for us, so I scoured the web for sites that I thought would attract these moms and dads. I searched for editors contact info and sometimes I had to correspond with several people before I was put in touch with the right person. I then sent emails weekly until I received a response. Some said they didn't have a meaningful spot for us and others asked to contact them at a later date. I kept a log book of all these publications that I'd spoken with and a calendar so I knew when to follow up again. When I was lucky enough to receive a sample request from them, I made sure that I didn't just throw one in a bag and send. I made the presentation perfect so they would be as impressed as possible. After 6 months of persistence, I was able to land Real Simple. Daily Candy was a bit easier and took about 2 months to finally ink a piece on Undercover Tape.

    Once the press was live, what benefits did you see? Increased sales or web traffic? Were they immediate results or more long-term? 

    Once the press was live, we did see many benefits including sales, retail inquiries, general customer inquiries and increased website traffic. We're happy to share any and all knowledge we have with other entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We see the key as not just one press hit here and there, but to keep it going, which isn't easy. We aren't using a PR agency or representative, so that makes things harder as we don't have those relationships already, but are building them as we go.

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  • Pitches, Hits, and Home Runs

    Today was the big day, our 2nd Annual Product Pitch Competition. The Grommet, joined by a fantastic group of speakers and attendees at Fenway Park where we all gathered to find the next great Grommet idea. Eight teams, chosen by our community, pitched their ideas live for a chance to win a launch on The Grommet.

    Here's a look at our day in images. See all of the photos here on our Instagram feed.

     

    Product Pitch Competition

     

    Above: A few highlights of our day's events.

    Each of the eight innovative teams pitched their products and businesses to our team of coaches, but only two took home the win. Congrats to our winners!

    Ready for Crowdfunding category: O-Rings: Sensory Learning Playthings by INCREMENT (learn more about them here)

     Ready for Market category: Compost Shredder by ECOTONIX (learn more about them here)

    Stay tuned for more details on our two winning teams!

  • The Field Is Ready - Let's Meet Our Teams! Part II

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    We recently shared some thoughts from our first four teams from the Ready for Crowdfunding category who will be pitching at Fenway Park on Thursday, March 20th. All final eight teams will present their products and have the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch to press, businesses and other influencers. We're in full swing with the regular season and can't wait to meet our finalists. Below read more about the four finalists who won crowd favorite in the Ready for Market category.

    Repel Gear Active by Repel Gear, LLC

    Product Pitch Competition | repelgear

    Repel Gear Active are seat covers that dirt-proof your car to protect from everyday messes.

    What inspired you to create your product that you're bringing to Fenway on March 20th?

    As active people with children, we were getting in the car dirty and sweaty on a regular basis.  The same options were always available such as draping a towel over the back of the seat while hoping it didn't fall down and bunch up behind us or using a traditional seat cover that took several minutes to put on and take off.  There had to be a better way.  We decided to launch our ACTIVE Series Seat Cover, a comfortable and stylish machine-washable microfiber towel that easily connects to the headrest in a car.  Whether we're sitting on it,  it's under a car seat, or folded up in the console, it has proven it's value time and time again.

    What are you most looking forward to taking away from the event?

    We are excited about the event on March 20th for several reasons but most importantly exposure.  We have an affordable and practical product, we just need to get it to people.  We appreciate the opportunity and look forward to presenting a product that can make people's lives a little easier.

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  • The Field Is Ready - Let's Meet Our Teams!

    In just one week,  our final eight teams will converge at Fenway Park to present their products and have the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch to press, businesses and other influencers. We're in full swing with the regular season and can't wait to meet our finalists. Today we're telling our community a little bit about the teams in the first of a two-post series. Below read more about the four finalists who won crowd favorite in the Ready for Crowdfunding category.

     

    Bringrr and BringTags

    by Bringrr Systems LLC

    Product Pitch Compettion | bringrr

    Bringrr + Bring Tags is a phone charger and reminder device so you never leave your phone or belongings behind.

    What inspired you to create your product that you're bringing to Fenway on March 20th?

    It all started with our CEO's uncanny ability to forget his phone everywhere. He wanted a reminder device that could be left in the car and practically forgotten until it was needed. So we began to think of things that are always in your car...a car charger! This charger could notify people when their phone isn't with them. We then went a step further to think of other things people might typically forget or leave behind. So we created BringTags to easily attach to anything that could potentially be forgotten or lost.

    What are you most looking forward to taking away from the event?

    I believe we will take away many positive things from the contest, namely exposure and the experience of the event. I'm originally from north of Boston so I know that presenting at Fenway will be a memorable experience. The press will also be an enormous benefit that will help us grow Bringrr and gain more awareness. I can't wait!

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  • Extra Innings: An Update from MAX'IS Creations

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    Our 2nd Annual Product Pitch Contest is less than one month away and our community is in full swing voting for their favorite product submissions. We’re excited to soon share the stories of this year’s winners, yet we are still following and supporting those who participated last year. Their story and journey certainly doesn't end at Product Pitch and we know there will be many great updates to come as they navigate through product development and launch.

    We also know our community is cheering them on and looking forward to these updates. One of our most popular finalists was  a young entrepreneur named Max Ash, who took home the win for community favorite. As a nine year old, he may be one of the youngest entrepreneurs around and has garnered lots of attention for his product MAX’IS Creations “Mug With a Hoop TM.” We recently checked in with Max and his mom, Jennifer to see what life has been like since winning the community vote at last year’s event.

    product pitch competition | The Grommet ---------------------------------------------Max and his product testing team

     

    First, a special note from Max:

    Hi everyone at The Grommet,

    Thank you for inviting me to Fenway Park to pitch my idea for a hot chocolate mug that lets you throw marshmallows into hot chocolate!  It’s been a really fun year.  What I’ve loved most about the last year is that I’ve made money selling my mugs!  It was really fun to go to Mudshark Studios to see them make my mugs.  I liked to see them put all of the parts of the mug together and I liked seeing all my mugs lined up.  I even got to sign some mugs while I was there!  I like getting boxes full of my mugs in the mail.  The hardest thing about the last year was seeing them be broken (a few mugs were broken during one of our shipments). I liked delivering my mugs to people and knowing that people paid me for the mugs. 

    From,

    Max

    new prodcuts | product pitch competition -------------------------------------------The finished (first edition) product

    ...

     Read on for our Q&A with Jennifer Ash from MAX'IS Creations

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  • Play Ball! Voting Season is Now Open

    Here at The Grommet, we're rethinking the way people fundamentally launch, discover, share, influence and buy products online. Daily, we encourage our community of Makers and Supporters to submit their product ideas to our Citizens' Gallery. Whenever someone tells us about their favorite product we post that idea our Citizens' Gallery and encourage you to learn about and interact with the product submissions we receive every day; voting "up" those you think should succeed most.

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    If you've been following along our 2nd Annual Product Pitch event, you'll recognize it as a Product Pitch Competition that brings our every day search to a larger playing field. We've closed  submissions and are in full swing with semifinalist moving on into the regular season. Our team of Grommet coaches has narrowed the playing field. Now it’s up to our community of Makers, Hackers, Inventors, and Fans to help decide which six problem solvers have what it takes to advance to the Final Pitch at Fenway Park.

    Product Pitch Competiton

    Vote now to help your favorite problem solver make it to the big leagues.

    From home plate to home run, the success of could-be-Grommets depends on the votes and voices of our community.

    Voting Phase: February 16 - 28, 2014

    The Final Pitch at Fenway Park: March 20, 2014

    Click here to vote for your favorite product to advance to The Final Pitch.

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