The Grommet Seals Future for Two Innovative Inventions

    By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

    O-rings from Increment Studios will be crowdfunded

    Opening Day at Fenway Park is still more than a week away, but two teams had big wins there on Thursday.

    The Boston-based product launch and e-commerce site for makers, The Grommet, known for bringing brands including GoldieBlox, SodaStream, FitBit, and Bananagrams to market, held its Second Annual Product Pitch and Game Day at the famous field last week, in search of the “next big thing.”

    In a competition to win a free crowdfunding campaign or the chance to bring an invention to market, The Grommet invited eight finalists to pitch their problem-solving consumer products to a panel of tech, design, and business experts including leaders of Indiegogo, TechStars, and the Boston Design Museum. Products had to be “ready for crowdfunding” or “ready for market” to qualify.

    Jules Pieri and Joanne Domeniconi co-founded The Grommet in 2008 to promote what they call “Citizen Commerce,” a movement to enable “product purchases that express powerful contemporary values around sustainability, quality, technology, and social enterprise.” Pieri, an industrial designer who worked as a senior executive for brands including Keds, Stride Rite, and Playskool, conceived the Grommet as a way to connect mom-and-pop inventors of innovative products with customers. Her company has since launched nearly 3,000 products across more than 20 vertical markets, and grew its revenues 450 percent last year.

    At Fenway Park, Increment Studios of Providence, RI, was the winner of a free Indiegogo campaign, as well as a national Grommet launch, for its O-Rings product, a toy designed to provide sensory stimulation and encourage motor activities for special needs children. Kids can sit in, stack up, and play with the life-size set of colored rings of varying sizes, weights, densities, and textures to explore scale distinction and spatial reasoning.

    Denver-based Ecotonix won marketing support from The Grommet for its Green Cycler composting …

    In the ready-for-market category, Denver startup Ecotonix won a full-day Makers’ Workshop at The Grommet and marketing assistance for its Green Cycler, a small appliance for easy mess- and odor-free indoors composting. Ecotonix inventors designed the toaster-oven-sized machine for home gardeners and others who want to compost kitchen scraps for sustainable living.

    The six remaining finalists were: Repel Gear’s Active Series absorbent microfiber car seatcover; the Juneberry Bag—a shoulder bag with changeable covers that can be converted to a backback or a crossbody purse; Litter One: A self-contained mail-order biodegradable and disposable kitty litter system; the Bringrr System, an Internet-of-Things app with tags for placing on items the user wants to keep track of; Decz, rainboots with changeable designs; and the Tray Bien, a travel caddy for electronics gear and devices.

    The winners of last year’s Grommet product pitch event, THINX performance underwear, went on to complete a successful Indiegogo campaign and launch on The Grommet in January. Grommet CEO Pieri counts one in 200 Americans as a supporter of her company’s products.

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