Innovative faucet wins contest

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Suffolk-based start-up company won a competition in July based on a pitch for a new household fixture.

The Old Dominion University Center for Enterprise Innovation in Norfolk hosted the 757Pitch competition on July 18. Five independent ventures were selected to present seven-minute pitches of their ideas and products to a panel of judges in a “Shark Tank”-like competition.

Harbour View resident and Reed Integration vice president Steve Waddell won the bi-monthly contest with his innovative faucet design.

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The founder of NASONI faced tough competition from off-roading online community Where2Wheel, Gemini II real-time video streaming, Cradling Sleeper’s device and the Safe Grandpa application for elderly drivers.

“The competition was strong,” Waddell said. “When you go up against good ideas and good things, winning makes it that much sweeter.”

NASONI, which is Italian for “big nose,” was founded in July 2015 and named after the thousands of drinking fountains in Rome, Italy that date back to 1874. Waddell said he discovered the fountains through a YouTube video during his patent search.

His Fontanina Fountain faucet design is inspired by those classic Roman fountains. Water runs normally through the faucet, but a turn of the lever on the faucet head turns it into a water fountain. Each set is made with the brass, valves and other materials to prevent leaks and paint wear, Waddell said.

“It eliminates the need for a cup, because your faucet has a built in water fountain,” he said.

Each pitch at the competition was judged based on management capability, market opportunity, distinctive competence and investment potential.

His approach was to “hit the nail on the head” by explaining a study that estimated a positive return for investors, his two approved patents and registered NASONI trademark, and his manufacturing plans.

He also explained his “Human Cloud Product Development Line.”

“That’s my network of freelancers all over the world that I tap into to do work for me,” he said.

Waddell received a $757 check for winning the competition. Because his father, John Waddell, served in the Army, his company qualified for the Veterans Business Outreach Center.

The competitors were offered a pitch-coaching class by ODU CEI leading up to the competition, and some that show promise but did not win will continue to receive guidance in their endeavors, outreach coordinator Steve Goad said.

“We have found in Hampton Roads there are entrepreneurs that are doing some very creative, imaginative things,” he said. “757Pitch is an effort being support by the Center of Innovation to shake the tree and find those ideas out there — they get out there and get their idea pitched, with the chance of being discovered.”

Waddell will travel to Durham, N.C., in October to compete in the 2017 Big Launch Challenge for the opportunity to win either the $20,000 first-place prize or $10,000 for second place. He will compete with full confidence in his product.

“The product I have today is the best-built faucet that you can buy,” he said. “It’s really cool.”