This post is part of a series dedicated to highlighting small and medium-sized enterprises across the country employing technology in new and innovative ways.
Co-founders Nick Telford (left) and Michael Bracciale know a thing or two about staying fresh on the fly. The Tallahassee-based startup, Fly Mouthwash, has created a breath-freshening product that offers the portability of gum with the effectiveness of traditional mouthwash – users simply mix the product with an ounce of water to create a mouthwash enabling fresh breath on the go. The entrepreneurs, who met while students at Florida State University, have developed their company at an incubator called Domi Station, and recently won recognition from Tallahassee’s Chamber Entrepreneurial Forum. As you’ll read, Nick and Michael recognize the key role technology will play in taking their company to the next level.
Courtney Duffy (DisCo): What technology do you harness to create your product, the mouthwash itself?
Over the past year, we’ve spent a great deal of time working on the taste, feel, and flavors of Fly Mouthwash. Working closely with students, professors, and other entrepreneurs in Tallahassee, we’ve been able to continually improve upon our formula based off of our consumers’ feedback. We utilize several mobile apps to collect and store our feedback that we receive. Of course, much research has gone into determining the right ingredients for our product, a process that would’ve taken much longer without the internet. The scaling up process, which involves moving our operations to a larger manufacturer, utilizes a much greater deal of technology in the making of the mouthwash. The equipment used throughout our assembly line relies upon precise movements and timing, an impossible undertaking without the software and technology that these machines utilize. Any time that we are invited to a manufacturing plant, we jump on the opportunity because it is fascinating to see these pieces of equipment work together in unison.
DisCo: In what ways are you relying on technology to promote your company?
There has never been more opportunity than now to market and brand our company online. With paid social media advertising, we can pinpoint exactly who our target consumer is for that advertisement, and with the click of a button, our message can be delivered straight to their smart phone. We can then drive our social media traffic towards our website, with the end-goal being another satisfied Fly Mouthwash user. Without this competitive advantage, companies in the past had to spend millions of dollars on TV commercials and billboards, burning through marketing dollars just to get their name out there, with no real strategy behind their marketing efforts.
DisCo: According to your website, customers will soon be able to purchase the mouthwash on your website. What platforms are you planning to use to make that a reality, and what platforms, if any, are you currently using to sell Fly Mouthwash to customers?
We have built into our sales strategy a strong presence on Amazon’s online marketplace. Aside from the fact that Amazon’s sales make up nearly 40% of total online yearly purchases, it offers a service called “Fulfillment by Amazon” – an incredible service that is offered to all professional sellers, FBA allows you to focus on the sale and the marketing efforts behind the sale, without having to worry about shipping and handling. This allows for easier scaling as a business, as well. It is a pleasure to work with the best minds in logistics.
DisCo: How can the medical and dental industries optimize technology down the line, and what sorts of technology policies would make that easier?
We’ve already seen technology impact the medical and dental industries in a positive manner. Virtual and augmented reality systems are being used in teaching facilities for 3D anatomy structures that allow for a deeper understanding of problems that arise within the human body and how everything is connected. We’re utilizing technology to test for diseases that people are predisposed to, allowing for early recognition and treatment that will improve quality of life. The impact that technology has on our society will only continue to improve these fields.
DisCo: What advice do you have for other startups looking to incorporate technology into their growth strategies?
There has never been more information readily accessible to learn from than now. I would advise entrepreneurs to dive deep into Google and learn as much as you can about the market that you’re looking to go into, see who’s doing what in that space. Is there an opportunity to innovate upon something in that market that would bring value to the end consumer? Can it be protected with a patent? How have other companies successfully brought a similar product into market?
Develop a growth strategy that highlights your company/product’s strengths, follow a path that makes sense to get your company/product in front of your target customer. If selling a physical product, it’s helpful to research how to get your product on the top of Google and Amazon.
DisCo: What’s next for Fly Mouthwash?
We’re excited to be in the position that we’re in. We’ve just moved over to our new manufacturing plant and started production on units that will be ready for sale this fall. We’re aiming to build a brand that embodies innovative thinking mixed with witty content. We’d like to set a culture for our company that others want to be a part of, both for consumers and potential employees.
We believe that product-use education will be an important component of our customers’ experiences. To ensure that our product’s intended use is well-known, we’re going to be traveling to the Southeast college campuses, setting up demonstrations and creating brand awareness.
Courtney Duffy is a Research & Innovation Fellow at CCIA and an MBA Candidate at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Follow @cduffy90