While he spent 25 years building nuclear submarines and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers for Newport News Shipbuilding, Steve Waddell had always harbored dreams of manufacturing his own empire.
The largest industrial employer in Virginia, Newport News Shipbuilding was founded in 1886, in the town of the same name, by Collis Peter Huntington, an industrialist who played a critical part in the development of America’s 21st-century railroad infrastructure.
Growing up in the playground of one of the Big Four of western railroading (they built the first transcontinental railroad), Mr. Waddell had grand distribution plans in mind when he tapped Freelancer.com to assist in the distribution of his innovative faucet -- which turns into a water fountain at the flick-of-a-switch.
The development of the Nasoni Fontanina faucet commenced in December 2013, and he has bootstrapped the effort with an estimated $90,000 in winnings from pitching contests. With both design and utility patents already approved, customers interest, and the product ready to ship, he was missing one crucial piece: a high-quality package to distribute the faucets.
A local designer quoted him a price of $2,650, which he said “was not even in the same zip code” as cheap.
Mr. Waddell said he had worked with other freelance platforms in the past. However, he needed a catch-all solution for all his project requirements. He Googled “High-End Faucet Design Package” and found a link to Freelancer.com, where he posted a contest and the entries quickly began to roll in.
He was so satisfied with the results he bought the top two entries.
All told, it cost him a total of US$251.
The winner was 35-year-old freelancer Surendra Rathor, from Mumbai, India, who has 14 years experience as a graphic designer. He noticed the project at its onset, therefore, giving him an advantage over the competition. Since the contest was visible to everyone, Mr. Rathor submitted a sealed entry to keep his ideas between him and Mr. Waddell.
"The inspiration behind the design was the product itself. Honestly, all I did was analyze thoroughly,” Mr. Rathor said. "If I am unhappy with a design, I don't submit it at all."
Mr. Waddell grew up in nearby Hampton Roads, a collection of cities with a total population of 1.6 million. He said there is a burgeoning startup scene in the area, with a number of different startup support organizations, including Hatch, the Innovation Collaborative, and Hampton Roads Innovation. He is looking forward to leaving his mark on the town, like his former employer.
“I’ve always been about process improvement,” Mr. Waddell said. “I would watch shows like ‘Shark Tank’, and seeing products on there, I thought, ‘I could come up with something useful’.”
“I’d always hated sticking my head under the faucet, and I decided there’s no suitable way to drink directly from the tap. I didn’t want to add something to the product, but rather reinvent the product, so it solves the problem itself. Add-ons, like rubber, get moldy, so I decided to go with a switch, which was more elegant.”
“Thus, Nasoni was born.”
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