In anticipation of the final round of the 2020 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 10th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.
Daniel Raithel ’20, Economics
DC: Tell us about your startup.
BraceLint is a consumer convenience product based around the simple idea of a lint roller. During the year there are many occasions where we have to look or dress our best and present ourselves with confidence. Whether it be an interview, meeting, or a date, feeling good about your appearance is one of the best ways to get over those sometimes uncomfortable hurdles. After leaving the house you can fix your hair or makeup, but your clothes are kind of stuck the way they are. Lint rollers are bulky, often covered in hair, and are not designed to be brought out of the house. This is where the BraceLint comes in! BraceLint is an easy single-use version of a lint roller that fits flat into your pocket or bag until being propped open and used to fix your clothes in a “pinch” and get your mojo back.
DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?
It has been an incredible journey with a lot of progress over the last year since coming up with the idea for BraceLint. This last year feels almost like a blur to me with this entire process. In the last year, BraceLint was able to secure its provisional and international provisional patent (PCT), prototype over a hundred different materials, lockdown sustainable manufacturing processes, validate the price point with over 600 unpaid pre-orders, and go all the way from an MVP to a finished product. This was all possible with the incredible resources that the Dingman Center and Startup Shell helped to provide.
DC: What have you learned from the semifinals that will help you better prepare for Finals?
The Pitch Dingman semifinals showed me what it was like to feel all the weight of competition and still have to perform in front of a crowd. While I think that we all assume pitching is hard to do, I had never taken into account the complexities of packing as many parts of your business into such a short time frame. This coupled with performing in front of an audience of seasoned entrepreneurs and judges turned out to be nerve-wracking. In order to perform my best, I am practicing pitching in front of as many audiences as possible to shake the nerves.
DC: What has your startup been working on since Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals?
Since the Pitch Dingman semifinals, BraceLint has been incredibly busy. Being a new product that is disrupting a long-standing market, intellectual property has been an important factor for deterrence. During the break, BraceLint was able to complete and file a PCT to give international patentability along with extending provisional coverage. It was also important to finish locking down the finalized product. Through a grant from the Dingman Center E-Fund, I was able to complete extensive R&D and make 5,000 ten-packs of BraceLints which are now awaiting the packaging to be sold to the public.
DC: What are some goals you are looking to reach before Finals?
In the upcoming month before the Finals, BraceLint is continuing to stockpile product and working on building partnerships with local pet stores to lock down purchase orders. At the same time, I am working to get the website ready along with Fulfillment by Amazon prepped for the upcoming initial launch!
DC: If you win Pitch Dingman Competition, what will you do with the $15,000?
If won, this money will be stretched far in order to continue fueling this fire. Having completely bootstrapped this company so far, the ability to purchase materials will allow for inventory to be built and prepped. This allows BraceLint to finally be able to approach larger stores in order to do trial runs. Another portion of the funds will go to a modest social media marketing campaign to help drive direct sales to the website. The rest of the funds will be dedicated to attending BraceLint‘s first trade show where free samples will be given out to attract larger organizations.