Photo courtesy of American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
When you look back on your college years, some of the most memorable moments are when you meet people who will be a part of your life forever. For Kevin Consolo, BBA ’07 and Chris Pavlica, that serendipitous moment came the first year when they lived two doors apart from each other at Tiffin Hall.
According to Consolo, they were “two Ohio kids with similar interests.” Pavlica saw Consolo pull off his golf bag and clicked on his love of sports and a similar sense of humor. “We’re not friends yet,” Pavlica quipped.
Another common interest that nurtured their friendship was the entrepreneurial spirit. From their days at Ohio University to their recent appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, Consolo and Pavlica have always shared a desire for success and a mutual dream of having an idea that will lead them to success.
“When we were in college, we got up late trying to come up with the next millionaire idea. We lived in Bromley Hall, on the ninth floor. We came up with horrible ideas that looked good for 24 hours,” Pavlica said.
Consolo initially planned to pursue journalism, but due to the competitive nature of the program, she started at the College of Business where she fell in love with the creative side of advertising agencies.
“I think the College of Business is a very comprehensive background that takes you into your career and your passion,” Consolo said.
While Consolo focused on business, Pavlica was a telecommunications specialist at Scripps College of Communication. Consolo reflected on her time as a roommate and recalled how Pavlica devoted herself to her craft, keeping working on movies instead of going out with friends.
“It’s always been the same way,” Pavlica said of Consolo. “We play with each other. We have the same work ethic. ”This diligence has continued to be useful to Pavlica, as five years ago he came up with an idea for a company that would prove successful.
Pavlica was preparing for a pitch meeting with Coca Cola executives when she discovered that the sneakers she had worn to meet had been written down in her luggage. Grabbing his smartphone, Chris tried to find a quick fix for cleaning his white shoes. The best option he found was a hand sanitizer on a paper towel in his hotel room.
The results were acceptable for their meeting, but Pavlica realized that this could be that elusive idea he and Consolo had dreamed of pursuing years ago. When he returned to Los Angeles, he called Consolo to tell him he had an idea that it might be the same.
They spent the next year and a half developing SneakERASERS, which is a durable double-layer sponge that includes a special formula to help the user clean up dirt, scratch marks and other dirt. It comes in a single pre-moistened pack to clean anywhere, or they sell a dry version in a cheap 10 pack for use at home or anywhere you have access to water.
While there are other sneaker cleaning products on the market, Consolo and Pavlica said SneakERASERS is the best way to clean your shoes.
“We created it to be denser and compressed and added other layers. It also has a very soft, fluffy coating that cleans sensitive materials from shoes, “Pavlica said.” It works like an eraser and disintegrates naturally as you use it. “
When they began to see success in retail and talked to buyers from the automotive parts and sporting goods industries at trade shows, it began to take shape that could change the composition and design of SneakERASERS to create new products. . This was the impetus for his company, FTI Brands, to develop its other products, AutoERASERS and GolfERASERS.
As their business saw success and continued to expand their product line, Consolo and Pavlica were able to achieve another goal: to be chosen to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank. According to Consolo and Pavlica, about 40,000 companies apply to appear on Shark Tank each year. Only 100 companies get on the air.
They were delighted with how it turned out that two of the sharks, Lori Greiner and Alex Rodriguez, offered them a deal: a $ 200,000 investment for a 20% stake in SneakERASERS. The two baseball fans had the feeling that they had scored a goal at home by reaching an agreement with Greiner and Rodriguez, a dream team of shops and connections in the business world. Greiner, the queen of retail and queen of the QVC shopping channel, and Rodriguez, a former New York Yankee turned business tycoon, were the two sharks waiting to catch on.
Since its episode aired, a couple of products have sold out on Amazon and Walmart.com and Pavlica will appear soon on QVC before Father’s Day. Consolo and Pavlica are delighted to capitalize on their Shark Tank appearance and are working as fast as they can to continue to expand.
“It seems to me that we are only scratching the surface of our partners and retail channels. There are so many questions we get from customers who ask us, “How do we buy it?” We want to explore the sale of our products to other countries and the sale through other retail channels “, said Consolo.
Even with their success, Pavlica and Consolo continue to look back on their time in Athens and the experiences at Ohio University that shaped who they became.
“I think about Ohio University almost every day. This is a bit of that kind of sales where we had to learn to close, ”said Consolo. “You get a little out of every experience. You may not remember every test or lecture, but you gain some experience and knowledge from each class. You have to wear all these different hats every day. The College of Business provided me with a good experience to change operations, logistics, sales, inventory management and presentations.
What began with mutual love for golf and the luck of being two doors apart from each other in Tiffin has resulted in a lifelong friendship and a successful venture that they once dreamed of becoming reality.
“We complement each other so well. We face so many obstacles and setbacks every day, “Pavlica said.” It’s time consuming, but we love it. It’s been an amazing journey. “
Click here to read more about Consolo and Pavlica.