Leverage the Network

Article by:
Todd Gabel
EO Chicago

You never know when inspiration will strike. In April 2010, I attended the EO Orange County University. The event took place just a few weeks after the launch of the Apple iPad, and being a self-proclaimed “gadget junkie,” I was showing off my new device. I soon noticed that members’ iPads became noticeably dirty with oily fingerprints. I attempted to clean my own screen with a hotel napkin, but succeeded in only smearing the smudges around.

Seeing these savvy businesspeople with their grimy iPads, I came up with an idea. I set out to design a product that would be effective at cleaning messy screens and still remain as fashionable as the gadgets themselves. The only problem: I had a great invention, but zero experience bringing a consumer product to market. I needed to assemble a killer marketing, PR, manufacturing and distribution team … so I turned to my fellow EO members for help.

Starting in China, I connected with Leo Xiang (EO Shanghai), who helped me set up my manufacturing and packaging facilities. Back in the US, Mike Maddock (EO Chicago) introduced me to an expert for product advice, and that expert hired Fran Biderman-Gross (EO New York) to orchestrate and implement a marketing strategy. Finally, I added Susan Lindner and Chris Bryant (EO New York) to round out the public relations, social media and SEO plan. The teams worked well together, and helped me jumpstart the company, bringing the Toddy Smart Cloth to market in less than 10 months.

Thanks to the connections I made in EO, I was able to put together a team of experts that helped me bring an idea to fruition. Without their help and expertise, I wouldn’t have been able to bring my product to market as fast and effectively as I did. First movers have an advantage, and tapping into the great people and companies in EO is a great way to extend your expertise and move your
business along faster and further. As I continue my entrepreneurial quest, I know I will come back to my EO network for help again and again.

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