If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you know that we attended The Amazon Inventions Tour this past weekend in Atlanta. The Amazon Inventions Tour was two days packed full of prestigious speakers imparting wisdom on ambitious entrepreneurs hungry to score a deal with either Edison Nation or Amazon. Edison Nation is not so different from us here at Elite Innovations. Edison was created “to help everyday inventors turn their product ideas into real products on retail shelves worldwide.” Sounds similar right? The biggest difference between us and Edison is that they’ve been in the game since 2001 when Enventys was founded with a mission similar to that of Edison’s. Seven years later in 2008, Edison Nation was born. We work in close conjunction with Edison and enjoy this friendly relationship within the industry. In fact, Edison extended to us the original invite to the Amazon Inventions Tour in hopes that our flagship product, TacLace, would be the perfect fit for Amazon. We were thrilled at the invitation to come pitch our shelf-ready product to the heads of Amazon LaunchPad at the tour.
TacLace is a rapid boot lacing system developed by our CEO Andrew Williams, and his bunkmate, Pete Foster, while the two U.S. Marines were deployed in Afghanistan. TacLace streamlines the process of lacing boots with just three easy steps: pull, cinch, and wrap. This quick and easy process makes lacing boots up to 80% faster! When you’re in a situation like Andrew was the night he came up with the idea for TacLace, every second counts. While walking to the shower in flip flops and a towel, Andrew hears a jet sound fly overhead. This was followed by several explosions roughly 100 yards away. Unfortunately, two U.S. Army Soldiers were peppered with rocks, shrapnel, and debris produced by the blast. After grabbing his flak jacket, kevlar, and weapon; out the door he went. By the time he arrived at his destination, he lost one flip flop and tore the other in half. He and Pete then devised their first prototype for Taclace, stitched together by a local Afghan national. The saying is so true, “necessity is the mother of all invention.” Andrew and Pete took a grave necessity and turned it into something that could potentially save lives.
But the speed isn’t the only benefit of TacLace. TacLace ensures that your boots will stay tight and secure all day long without having to stop and re-tie several times per day. The user will no longer be troubled with the hazards of dangling laces. Though this product was invented for military and tactical use, TacLace now enjoys about 55% of its business from a combination of hunters, hikers, and construction workers.
On to the pitch. What was the difference between pitching to Edison Nation and to Amazon? As advertised, there were three different “lanes” of market readiness presenting companies fell under. The first two lanes are Edison’s bread & butter. Companies that had a great idea, but were not yet ready for global expansion pitched to Edison Nation. The third lane, or as we called it, the fast lane, was where TacLace fit in. Lane three had a functioning product with proof of concept through steady sales metrics. Lane three pitched directly to Amazon executives acting on behalf of their new platform known as Amazon Launch Pad.
Amazon Launch Pad is designed to accelerate the growth of established product based start-ups through mass exposure. This marks the first time Amazon has acted as a buyer, as opposed to their more well known middle-man role. The Launch Pad team hand picks products that they like with intentions of marketing them and acting as a re-seller for these products. The perk for us? Amazon has hundreds of millions of customers. They can reach more people in one day than just about any small business can in a year. Needless to say, we were pretty excited for this opportunity.
The format of the pitch allotted for ten minutes in the room, two and a half of which was dedicated to “set-up time.” Andrew walked in the room and said “I understand we have two and a half minutes to set up, but I’m not going to need that much time,” took off his Oxfords shoes, put on his boots, and in less than a minute later, he was TacLaced up. They were hooked instantly (the judges I mean). By the time Andrew got to the part of his pitch where he explained how perfect TacLace is for “you viewed this, you might also like” in regards to the tactical clothing market, the hunting gear market, or the $10 billion footwear and accessories market, the Amazon team cut him off. They were practically foaming at the mouth. “Give us a minute” they said, and sent him out of the room. A few minutes later he was greeted back into the room with “We love TacLace, we love your story, and we love you! We’re in!”
We are extremely honored and humbled to have been chosen by the Launch Pad team, and we can’t wait to see how this new relationship pans out for us. We will be posting about this topic again in a few months as a follow up to this post, to report back how things are going.
(See the weekend recap on Edison Nation’s blog here.)