Inventor Guest, Valerie Guglielmo

Read more about Valerie and her invention, SnozzlePro, at SnozzlePro.com

Brian Fried:
Welcome to the Got Invention Show. I’m your host, Brian Fried and today our special guest is Val Guglielmo. Welcome to the show. Val, how are you?

Valerie Guglielmo:
Hi, Brian how are you doing?

BF:
Doing great. Thank you for joining us today. And I know that you have a very interesting story to share. And I know that the listeners and the viewers are going to be very interested to hear what you have to say. So why don’t you start off by telling us about yourself, maybe who you are and where you’re from?

VG:
Sure. Well, my name is Valerie Guglielmo, and I’m from Chester, Connecticut. And I grew up in a small family business and watched my parents work very hard on making a living and we were all very much involved with it. But later on, I went to school, I wanted to be an artist, ended up switching my major and became, you know, marketing and sales and advertising. But I always had a little bit of inventive creative streak, as you would think. Long story short, I was blow drying my hair one day, and many days, actually. And my concentrator nozzle would constantly pop off my hairdryer. This is a concentrator nozzle, it goes on the end of the hairdryer. And a lot of folks have the problem that I did, which is they love to pop off and not stay attached to your hairdryer.

BF:
Okay. And you came up with a solution for that, right?

VG:
I did. It was called duct tape. No, that’s not my invention. But like a lot of other people, that is exactly all you could do there. There is a frustration shared by lots and lots of people. And because I looked online, and I saw that, and I thought, oh my god, so duct tape. And then shortly after I got married, my husband would constantly crack up, then he could hear my concentrator nozzle just pop off and bounce across the bathroom floor. I just commented out loud to him one day, as these ideas tend to come to us, I wasn’t trying to come up with a solution. I thought this is ridiculous. Let me just go on Amazon and find a better concentrator nozzle, you know, something that has a good grip on it like silicone. And I’ll just go buy that. I finally got around to remembering I wanted to do that I typed in silicone concentrator nozzle, nothing. Tried another combination of words, nothing. All right, that doesn’t make sense. I then went out and did vast google google search, nothing. I thought this cannot be possible. There’s got to be a product out there. And as many months went by, I kept searching and there wasn’t. And that’s when I decided, well, I’m going to invent this thing. I think that I there’s a fix for this. And you know, that’s where I started on my journey to invent a product.

BF:
Excellent. So Val, let’s get to it from the beginning. So I know you kind of zipped through a pretty quick, but myself and the other listeners out there would like to know a little bit more.

VG:
That’s okay! I’m trying to be conscientious. My husband will tell anybody that once you get me talking about my product, which is called the SnozzlePro, I won’t shut up. So I was trying to be polite. I’ll tell you all you want to know. So I did not want to spend a penny of my own money on anything until I was absolutely certain, at least from that I could tell that there was not an existing product. So I spent a good long time a couple months searching really hard. And I believe if it’s on the internet, I can find it. I’m a sleuth. And I couldn’t find anything. I went through google, google images. I spent a great amount of time thinking it must be out there, I’m not looking the right way. But I couldn’t find anything. So I went through searching through the internet extensively, Google Images extensively. Then I went through the US Patent Office, okay, maybe somebody admitted to this already, and it’s in the works. I couldn’t find anything. Maybe it already existed, but it failed miserably, and no, couldn’t find it. So finally, I broke down after about three months and decided I would pay to have an independent market research to see if this product, you know, actually existed somewhere as a patent.

BF:
Did you do a patent search with a patent for the opinion with either a company or a patent attorney or agent?

VG:
Yes, I did and, you know, I put in the report, I want to say it was $395 is what I paid for it, where I went through, of course, they wanted me to continue on with them and develop this product, but it really I just wanted to get to the research, and it came back with a that if they won’t guarantee you that there doesn’t exist out there. But they will take it the extra, 10 miles beyond what I could do and see, if there’s anything apparent out there, and there was no product, no competing product out there that, that in their opinion, in their opinion.

BF:
Ok, so you got back this report? Yep. It didn’t seem like it existed. You know, were you excited? Were you just did you feel like, Wait a second, I want to know a little bit more. Because before I start on this journey; or, I already started, but I want to continue, should I do something else? What do I do right now? What was that point like?

VG:

Well, I want to back up a second to not only was this product not out there, what was important to me is, was there a true need? I mean, I knew I needed this product. I knew I had this problem. So again, part of my research was going on when I went on Amazon was so valuable, I think for Amazon is the reviews. And so I would go to what would be a competing product, which would be what would be called a universal concentrator nozzle. So if so, I look at all the bad reviews and wanted to see what was the reason why they gave it a one or two star review? And the answer was, you know, overwhelmingly, it pops off, it doesn’t fit, it pops off, it doesn’t fit it melted. These were all key key issues. Alright, so I knew I had an idea for a product. But next, I had to prove it could work. So I knew I wanted it to have a silicone grip at the end of this, which they do not. It’s all hard plastic, high grade plastic, so it won’t melt, it’s going to be on the end of the high hairdryer. So I got lucky. I still in my heart believe there must be this product out there. So I was in Marshall’s one day, going through the home goods aisle, you know, where they have kitchen appliances and hair appliances. And I came across a silicone product that was used for something else completely different. But my I went right towards it because in my when I saw it, it was what kind of mirrored in my mind of what my product could look like. So I bought it, it sat in my closet for months, until finally I took an exacto blade to it and cut it down and made what I just called my ugly prototype. I had different versions of it, but I can tell you, when I used it on my hairdryer at work, I screamed like a little girl. No offense to the little girls out there. But I just was so damn excited that the idea that I had actually worked perfectly. But guess what? Alright, so we’re perfectly on my hairdryer. My hairdryer. Well, there are dozens and dozens of hair dryers on the market. And that’s an understatement. It blows my mind every time I think I know all the hair dryers out there there’s always more so I it was important to me that I tested my product that it would actually stay put on all these other hair dryers. So I went to Ulta beauty hair salon. Well, not Ulta beauty hair salon. They do have hair salons in there too. That was part of my testing also, by the way, but they have a huge display of over 45 hair dryers. So I went there with my product and with my ugly prototype, and I asked permission of the salon manager there who thought I was up to no good hanging out in their aisles. We became friends later on. She thought I was a shoplifter. But I brought my notepad and my calipers and I’ve literally tested my product on every single hairdryer measured the diameter of every nozzle, it was important to me that my product didn’t just work on my hairdryer. If I was going to have a successful product, it needed to it needed for me to work on the majority of hair dryers, there’s no such thing as 100%. But mine is pretty darn close. So I’m really proud of that, that it actually worked so well.

BF:
Excellent. So, you went through these 45 hair dryers and what was that feeling like? And what happened when you got done with the 45?

VG:
There’s more than 45 out there, it even works on ones that I would never predict it would work on. It felt fantastic. I took the next step at this point. At that time, because this was three years ago, this was kind of a roundabout way to get where I am today with you. I hired a patent attorney and though you don’t need to hire a patent attorney, I just did not want to screw it up. This was my first original idea that as far as I could see, nobody else had. It was important to me that if I was going to go for the full run for it, that I protected myself and not, you know, try to save money, as much as I always want to do that. Then I find out later I left loophole open. So I did use a patent attorney, so I could be “patent pending”. Then I also created a 3D-prototype. It was non functional, but it looked good. So I could I could photograph it and use it to create a sell sheet. And I pitched my product to all the leading hairdryer manufacturers. This was before I met you, Brian. And they all said no, ultimately, they’ll they take a pass, and they won’t tell you why they’ll just thank you nicely and say there is no interest. So that was extremely disappointing.

BF:
But let me ask you something about a little earlier, you said that you were going to make your full run into this. So, what what did that mean at that point, when you first started? Did you have the thought of licensing it so you can earn royalties? Or did you say: “you know what? I love this product, I want to own it. I want to be the one to market it. You know, I have some marketing experience and that’s my background.” Like, did you want to go into your own business manufacturing and selling it? Like, what was that thought like, earlier, when you started actually getting involved and going through with the attorney?

VG:
Well, my thought on that Brian was absolutely not. I had no intention to ever manufacture this product. Yeah, my background is marketing and sales. But to me, I understood the value of having lines of distribution. And I knew nothing about manufacturing a product. I didn’t have a clue on how to go about doing that. So when I initially had this idea, and became patent pending, it was strictly I wanted to license this product, specifically my dream licensee is Conair if you’re listening. You’re my guy. I still would love to see this product in their hands. I think it belongs there. But that’s just my opinion. But I definitely wanted to license this product. I really want this product in the hands of as many people who need it. I mean, it may sound a little silly, but once I found a solution to my problem, I wanted everybody to have a solution. Because it’s such a simple solution. It didn’t exist. It didn’t exist until now.

BF:
So in the beginning, you showed us the problem, and you have this product. So I’m going to give you the screen right now. So you can show us the demo. And I know that you pitched this a couple times. So maybe you can give us the best pitch so I’m going to put you on and you’ll do your thing.

VF
Okay, well one of the biggest problems hairdryer users have with their attachments is almost every hairdryer comes with their an attachment certainly it comes with the concentrator nozzle and that nozzle shapes are all different shapes and sizes. And they start off fitting great but after a while, not so much. They start popping off and they can even crack because of hitting the ground so many times. And if you happen to lose one, let’s say you go on vacation, and you left it behind in your hotel room, then you’re out of luck. Because the manufacturers do not sell replacements. Their job is to sell you a hairdryer. So if you try to find a replacement, they don’t like to stay on either. So this SnozzlePro is a universal nozzle adapter for concentrator nozzles, and here diffusers and it’s made of 100% silicone, and it’s industrial strength silicone, so it will be good with heat up to 450 degrees, which is really important because you don’t want it to melt on somebody’s, quite often their very expensive hairdryer. So, the way that it works is so ridiculously simple. Um, but that’s what makes it great. I’m going to insert, it has two ends, one is a little bit larger than the other, I take my nozzle attachment. So it can be one by the way that doesn’t even fit this hairdryer dryer like this does not fit my hairdryer. But with a SnozzlePro adapter, it will, I’m going to connect the small end over my attachment. And then the other end inside has a multi grip surface all the way around has 10 different ribs of silicone inside. And that’s what gives it the fitting grip it needs to stay put. So, now that I’ve put that on my hairdryer, there is no way that this is going to pop off anymore. Then I discovered an added bonus that I never set out to fix. Because it’s made of this industrial strength silicone that resists heat up to 450 degrees, many professional hairdresserswill blow dry their customers’ hair or their clients’ hair by holding the nozzle of their hairdryer. And when they’ve done this before, without a SnozzlePro, they will burn their hand on that hot nozzle and trust me, they will absolutely burn their hand. But with this SnozzlePro, it does two things. One, is going to keep it attached. Two, is going to protect the user’s hands from burns on these hot attachments. So, that was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t setting out to prevent hand burns. But what a bonus! I’m really excited about that part, because for the professional stylist, it really is a must because safety is an important issue for everyone.

BF:
That was great. Congratulations. So, you called it this SnozzlePro.

VG:
Yes.

BF:
Okay.

VG:
It’s called the SnozzlePro. It’s a funny name. But you have to give your product a name. So I’m told, that’s all I was told. Just instead of calling it “Hey, that thing that I invented this made of silicone and it attaches to a hairdryer that’s alumnae.” So Snozzle just literally stands for “silicone nozzle”. And, and then I added the pro at the end of it because somebody else trademark that name. And Snozzle it’s actually a tool that’s used at the end of a firetruck. And so I named it SnozzlePro as hats off to Conair Pro and Babyliss Pro and all the other pros out there. So, I just called it a SnozzlePro and the name stuck. It’s a silly fun little name, but it’s also very memorable and it does tie into the product well.

BF:
Right, and “pro” is really for professional.

VG:
That’s right. My joke is for the professional snozzler, Brian, just in case.

BF:

All right, how about let’s take a couple steps back because we saw the finished product and what you’re selling and you’re still attempting to license possibly. So, now you had that prototype. You were very excited you went through Ulta. What did you do after that? Like, what was the next step?

VG:
I got stuck. I mean when one-by-one when SnozzlePro was passed on. I kind of went I went into a slump. I was tired. I said I went through all this process, it was it was a letdown. So, I decided just to take a break from it for a little bit. When you’re inventing a product, it really is your baby. So maybe nine months later, I was tired and disappointed for sure. So I took a break and it wasn’t until later that…this here is inside scoop: I, you know, I have wavy hair. So for years I would blow dry my hair straight with this concentrator nozzle and that was the pop off problem. So during my break from SnozzlePro The first time I decided to let my hair just be wavy, and so I wasn’t using that concentrator nozzle anymore. Instead, I wanted to use this diffuser. This diffuser has puts SnozzlePro on the map this one diffuser and it’s called the XTAVA Black Orchid diffuser. In the curly girl community, which I have learned through Instagram, social media has been tremendously good to me and Snozzlepro they are wonderful people, the social media influencers. But anyway, this does not fit my hairdryer.

So this did not fit my hairdryer. And it really fits hardly any hair dryer. And I also saw, the way people will use it as they will duct tape it, they will go out and buy new hair dryers just to use this diffuser. And if they don’t, they will just hold it on and use it this way. Because it just does an amazing job. You must know with your long curly hair Brian when I’m talking about. But it didn’t work. So this was the, “Oh my God, I lost my mind moment”. When I discovered that my SnozzlePro, which at first I didn’t think would fit on here fits on this diffuser. I realized if I could make my product work on this diffuser, there would be curly girls across the world that would lose their minds. So it fits. I just attach this onto the small end of the lip of the diffuser and push it all the way down tight. And because of that all those ribs inside that I told you about. Now I’ve given this a grippy grippy nozzle that it never had before. And now it didn’t fit before, right? Now it fits. It fits fantastic now, so and not only again on my hairdryer, it’s going to fit on almost any hairdryer in the market. Well, once I realized that part, I knew, absolutely knew that I had a product that definitely needed to get out there. So I went to a trade show, I dusted myself off, and pulled out all my SnozzlePro stuff and went to a trade show in New York. The International beauty show in New York City at the Javits Center, and I brought my my prototype with me, and a concentrator and a diffuser, and a hairdryer. I brought all that stuff with me. I very cautiously showed it to different people there. And they strongly encouraged me, they said, “Oh, my God, when are you going to have this? This is a great product, you really should manufacture it.” And it’s like, I don’t want to manufacture it. I don’t know anything about manufacturing. If nobody wants to license it, you should manufacture it. And I kept fighting against it saying no, no, no. But by the time I was coming home on the train that night, it was like, I am absolutely going to find a way to manufacture this product. People want it and it solves a problem. So I am I’m going to do it. So that’s what brought me to you.

Because without you, Brian Fried I would not have had the confidence. Because it’s a scary thing. This is uncharted territory for me. I would not have had the the immediate knowledge. I might have figured it out eventually. But that’s why I reached out to you. I think I talked to you before I went down to the trade show. And then on the way back, I think the next day I was electrified, I certainly was like, amen, I need your help. You know, I want to do this. I’m going to manufacture this. Can you help me and that’s when everything took off.

BF:
Thank you Val, and listen, it takes two. So this is your product and You had the drive and you had the concept and you knew where you wanted to go. And, look, you’re in a point where or you were in a point where you weren’t sure really what to do. And you just went for it. So when you decided to go for it, and we connected, what did you do after that? What were you thinking and what were the next steps?

VG:
Ah, it was just full steam ahead. I mean, I was when I came back from the show. I mean, I just felt on fire. So, I just started rolling hard with it. So the first thing that we did, I always say, “wait.” Because we were like this for many months. I went ahead, because patent pending status had already expired from the previous one. And coming back from the show, I also decided I went ahead and I used again, a patent attorney. I know not everybody uses an attorney, they may file it themselves. But this is just the route that I chose for my product. So I filed for a utility patent the way it functions, and a design patent, which is how it looks. And I also filed for a trademark if I mean, I was swinging for the fences. So for me, it was I was I’m not just doing this in with kind of tiptoeing my way in, in. So I filed for everything I’m and then I really fine tuned my prototype. I hired a designer to create a CAD file. So this product can be manufactured. And so once that was done, and I, with your help you help me find a manufacturer. Silicone is not easy to find, I would have loved to been able to manufacture this product in the US. Absolutely of course, I’d like to do that. But there’s very few silicone manufacturers in the US, especially of industrial strength, silicone. And the ones that I found, they are not conducive for a small business owner. They have large minimums that they require and the molds are costly. And they want commitments from year to year. And I had not yet proven my product to know if you know how many I was going to need. So that brought us out of the US.

BF:
Okay, so you manufactured the product, you ended up getting your first run, minimums were good, low, low cost. You continue to get prototypes back until it was perfected the way you want with the amount of holes and thickness and the way that it stayed on the product and the material. So, here you are, you received your several 1000 units in your garage or in your living room. Maybe.

VG:
I’m very lucky, I got to tell you, if you’re going to invent a product, a small squishy product is the way to go. I mean, I have met other people that have invented, you know, wonderful products with a big footprint. So I’m lucky. I know this small, takes up very little space. This is good. It looks like so and again. Oh my gosh, all the decisions you have to make when you’re manufacturing. How is it going to be packaged? And what is it going to say on the package? All those important things. UPC codes. So yeah, my first run was for 3000. So I cannot believe it’s not even been a full year. My product arrived at my house on January 10. I set up a website SnozzlePro.com. And started selling product from my website and for months, months prior to actually getting product, because I wasn’t not in licensing, I want to sell this product. So I worked hard on Instagram. I created a personal profile for myself and SnozzlePro profile, but really searching out influencers and forming a legitimate sincere relationship with them. I had a product that solved a problem that they had, why wouldn’t they want to know about it? I’m not selling them something I’m helping them with the problem. So I’m and they’re wonderful people. I’ve been blessed by the people I’ve met on Instagram, the influencers. They’re so good to me in that: one, they tested my product and they gave it a true honest review. That’s the other thing I failed to mention. Before I manufacture the product, I also had it tested not just by me, who cares if I think it’s great. It was important to me, if almost everybody, you can’t please everyone, but so I had professional hairdressers testing my product if it could pass their scrutiny, you know, and their high standards, which they need to have. I mean, those are the best people that could test my product. So they tested it and the curly girl said, Yeah, okay, that covers this diffuser. But you know, that’s and that’s a big portion of the population shocker. But you know, the people that are blow drying their hair at home with a concentrator nozzle, but my God, your professional hairdressers, they are absolutely using these things. And if they’re not, is because they’re sitting in a drawer somewhere, because they don’t fit their hairdryer anymore, or they’re broken. So I had all the hairdressers at Ulta beauty hair salon in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. They tested my product thoroughly, they still use them all there. And in different parts of the country, I had different hairdressers testing my product, but my number one question to them was what would you change? You know, okay, of course, it makes my heart happy that you like it. But what would you change? If you could change anything? Where did it fail? You know, in because I wanted to know, before I manufactured it. But the good news was, shockingly, they didn’t change anything. I might have been asked a couple times about color. You know, “hey, will you have it in different colors?” In the end, everyone agreed that black was a good color because it blends in nicely with your attachment. And if you don’t want it to be obnoxious-looking on your expensive hairdryer, black is the way to go because it blends in really well. So I stuck with black. But sales started taking off on on my website, and then COVID hit. I was afraid of Amazon, I have heard stories, maybe in who’s to know if they’re validated or not. But I was just even though I was patent-pending, I was nervous about going on Amazon, but in the end, I decided, okay, I’m selling well, on my website. Okay, COVID hit on that home. I was on leave from work because we were all not knowing what we were doing at work. And so I spent that my time getting my product listed on Amazon. I was in for a big surprise. I am COVID proof, which is shocking. People like to take care of their hair regardless of COVID. So I have seen sales just every month steadily increase to the point where my first 3000, I was afraid that gee, I don’t know how long that’ll last. I hope I could sell 3000; I blew through 3000 I ordered another 5000. And they’re not even all here yet. And I can already see that. By the time they arrive. I’m going to need more. So I placed another order for another 5000 because I’m picking up wholesalers. I’m shipping SnozzlePro, not all not only all over the US. But abroad. I’m in Australia. Early on, I was contacted by a wholesaler in Australia and that was exciting. Another one in the UK, another Australia, one up in Canada, one in the United States. So I can’t keep enough SnozzlePro in the house. I’m constantly counting my inventory and keeping my fingers crossed that I’m going to have enough to fulfill my orders. So it is going exceptionally well on Amazon.

BF:
That’s amazing exceptionally well on Amazon and your wholesalers and you really start the ground and at the same time you still knocking on for example, Conair’s door. So now you have better assets where you’re actually have a proof of concept.

VG:
Yeah.

BF:
And every day, it gets better and better.

VG:
Yeah, it does at each month that I think I can’t sell more than the next I’d really say since June. I mean this past month, record sales, my sales are up 93% from the previous 30 days. It’s like, what?!

BF:
You deserve it. You’ve come a long way. Congratulations. So for the listeners out there, cause I know that you just have so much, we’re gonna have you back on the show eventually and here, greater greater things from where you are and go, Wow, I sold 5000 I’m selling. Who knows? Right? So?

VG:
Well, I will give you this quick update. SnozzlePro, the trademark is a trademark now the design patent came through. So I’m patented. Utility patent takes a little bit longer. And Conair I kept the door open with Conair with their legal counsel there who’s been very gracious to me. So, he had said to me when you’re patented, and you have some sales behind you reach back out to us no guarantees, but we’ll take a look again. And that’s the benefit of Amazon, I have well over 200 reviews on Amazon with an 80 to 81% approval rating, and 4.6 stars out of five. So that creates a lot of value for a potential licensee that I have, I don’t just have an idea. Now I have a proven product. And that, you know, hopefully, is going to help me in anyone that I approach for licensing opportunities.

BF:
If you if you want, and then you’ll have that choice. Because right now you’re in your own business. You’re selling. You’re exploring, you’re finding wholesalers vendors, you’re doing whatever you have to do. So it’ll be your choice, if that does arrive. So congratulations, Val. I’m sure everybody who is watching is very proud of you. So tell us because there’s inventors that are watching, that are at all different stages of their invention. So if you can leave us with some Valeria words of wisdom for the other inventors that are out there, no matter what stage they’re at, just give us some advice.

VG:
Oh, my. If you if you really believe, if you’ve taken all the right steps, and have vetted your product that you have done all your research, and you do all your due diligence, if your heart is really committed to it. And the numbers you know and the research supports your your heart’s belief, it’s easy to get down and feel discouraged. And at times, you know, feel like you need to take a break and you can take a break. But it’s a lot of hard work. But you know, if you’re surrounded by people to encourage you along the way, don’t be afraid to ask for help, where help is needed. If you’re feeling discouraged, certainly reach out to somebody that can you know, give you an honest pep talk. I’m big, it’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding in the end. And for me, it’s never been about the money. It what’s been rewarding for me is, you know, to have an idea for something and see it brought into life and quite honestly that I’m helping other people solve a problem. And that feels really good. You know that I’ve accomplished that.

BF:
Val, thank you so much for being on the show. Valerie Guglielmo. with this nozzle pro SnozzlePro.com comm if you want to take what a great story, Val, thank you so much for being on the Got Invention Show. Keep on inventing, listeners out there, do a great job, follow your dream and make it happen just like Val did. Congratulations. We’ll see you soon.

VG:
Okay, Brian, thank you.

BF:
Thank you. All right, everybody. Have a great day and Keep on Inventing from The Got Invention Show

VG:
Bye!