Episode 171: The Innovator's Dilemma - How Steve Waddell Founded Nasoni to Disrupt the Faucet Industry

your next stop Oct 24, 2022

As President, CEO, and Founder of Nasoni, Steve Waddell has an innovative and entrepreneurial background with over 39 years of experience in business, engineering, leadership, and management. From building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding to contributing heavily to the growth of Reed Integration, Inc, a small business (owned by his wife) into a multi-million-dollar government consulting business, he has developed extensive skills in leading and managing people while managing risk, budget, schedule, and stakeholder expectations. 

His desire to make a bigger impact on people’s lives as well as the environment led him to develop an innovative bathroom faucet that saves water while improving functionality. Today, the resulting product, Nasoni’s award-winning fountain faucet, is an industry-leading bathroom faucet known for product innovation and customer satisfaction. And this past June, he received a Phase I SBIR Grant from the National Institutes of Health for $259,015 to develop a smart, sensor fountain faucet to enable those living with spinal cord injury to live more independently.   

A seasoned entrepreneur, he is focused on building key investor relationships and disrupting a highly competitive market. His strong work ethic, results-driven nature, and unique ability to identify improvement opportunities and transform them into functional solutions allow him to accomplish even the most aggressive objectives.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. How did Steve Waddell come up with the idea for Nasoni, an award-winning fountain faucet?
  2. How has Nasoni helped people with disabilities, and how does it save water?
  3. What is the process that Steve Waddell went through to bring his idea to fruition?


Remarkable Quote:

“If the big faucet companies weren't going to do anything about it, I said, I'm going to try to fix it."



Today’s episode is sponsored by:


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Welcome back to your Next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. On this episode, I speak with Steve Waddell. He is the founder of Naisoni, which is N-A-S-O-N-I. It is an award winning fountain faucet.



And you might just be like, interesting. Steve actually founded this. This idea came to his mind when he was in Italy with his wife, and he found this idea. And then where this has gone is incredible. I love this story.



I was so fascinated. When you guys listen, you'll hear I get like giggly in it because I'm like, oh, wait. Oh my gosh. I need to connect that dot and this dot. It was a really fascinating story.



He started it because of the functionality. Like when you go to drink after you brush your teeth and you have to bend down his neck, he's like, I want to try to figure this out. The things that he's doing now with sensors to help the paralyzed, the wounded warriors, the different blind people. I mean, so many different things that you can do with this faucet. And on top of it, it saves water, which he found out as after he created it, which is really cool when he realized, oh, wait, this actually is also conserves water.



This is good for the planet. Not only is it going to help a bunch of different people and different people with disabilities, it's also going to help just a regular household. It's really fascinating. And the idea that he found it in Italy is a really sweet story. I did this episode with Noah McNeely, a product, quick Start.



You guys will remember. His episode came out a couple of weeks ago. He helps inventors. He helps inventors with their products. So they come to him.



He says, yes, this is a great idea. Here's some homework to do. But that's how they connected. And so it's really fun to also have no on here to kind of bring up different points that maybe I didn't know about the inventing kind of process. But Steve is really interested in how he shares with you guys what he did.



He raised a lot of money in contests because he won because of his idea, because it is so freaking cool. And he does a lot of trade shows. You can find actually Nissani on wayfair. But again, it is NA S-O-N-I. That's how you can find it on all the social media.



It's LinkedIn. It's Steve. And his last name is Waddell. And this is a fascinating episode. Again, I get really giggly because there's so many cool things.



And both of you guys, by the way, have an engineering background, which for some reason, a lot of these episodes recently have engineering. But they have the creative side of the engineering. And it's so cool to hear and see how their mind works and what they create. You don't want to miss this. Have you ever been listening to your favorite podcast, and that moment comes up and you think, oh, my gosh, I need to share it.



Well, now you can with picked cherries. What I love about picked cherries so much is that when I'm listening to my favorite podcast and that moment comes up that I want to share, I can take a Snippet, which is called the Pick Cherry, and I can send that to my friends and family so they can get involved in the podcast that I love. It's almost like sending an IG or a Tik tok available now, iOS and Android. If you're not picking cherries, are you really listening to podcasts?



Welcome back to another episode of Your Next Stop. This is Juliet Han. So in this episode, you guys, it's going to be a little different. We're going to be like, wait, I hear two men. You guys are familiar with Noah McNeely.



If you have not listened to his episode, you can hear his story because we're not getting in that here. We are getting into Noah. He had started Project Quick Start, and one of his clients is Steve widowl. So I want to welcome you both to your next stop. Thank you, Juliet.



Pleasure to be here. Yes, I'm excited. And hey, Noah. Welcome back. Hey, thanks for having me.



So what Noah and I want to do and this is kind of fun. So again, if you have not listened to Noah's episode, please go back. But he has a company that he helps inventors, and I became very fascinated with some of the projects that he's doing because I love that kind of when someone's out there daydreaming, they come up with an idea, where do they go? You have this idea. How do you get it out into the marketplace?



And that's exactly what Noah does. So he said, I think that you need to interview Steve because Steve has created an awardwinning faucet that saves 80% of water. Right, Steve? I mean, is that correct? Yes.



I should interject that. Steve is one of my favorite clients ever. So I think he'll be a good call here. We have a lot of fun working together. That's what it's all about.



But I know when Noah told me and I did like, I always do a little research, steve sent me a video. I watched it really quickly, and I'm all about saving the planet. So it's kind of like, wait a second. I definitely want to hear the story, how it started. And when we jumped on, Steve started telling me something, and I was like, pause, pause.



I don't want to hear it. I want to hear it kind of unfold. The company is nay sony. Did I say that correctly? Yes, you did.



And so it is this amazing faucet, and you guys can kind of go and follow Steve. He is on LinkedIn and Facebook, where he hangs out the most. But you can also find him on Twitter, and you can find him on Instagram, and that is Nasoni. And then steve, you're a LinkedIn. You have your own personal LinkedIn, and then you have the company page.



Is that correct? Yes, it is. Okay, great. So what we're going to do right now is we're going to get into this. And so, again, this is kind of a new thing for your next stop.



I know everyone that's used to listening to Y and S live. There's always a couple of different people, especially my NFL series. I have a co host. But we thought it would be really fun for Noah and I to kind of jump on here and talk to Steve and really kind of lay this out. And Noah's here to kind of ask other questions that maybe I'm not thinking about that the audience would be interested in, especially if you guys are out there really thinking, you know what?



I have this idea, and it keeps coming to me because we talk about this on the podcast all the time. You know, when you're out there, you're being curious, you're asking questions. You're kind of following the path that you're meant to follow. Things kind of kind of unfold, and sometimes we don't know what to do with it. We don't know where to start.



We don't know where to go. You go to Google. How do I create this product? How do I get a patent? What do I need to do here?



And the thing that's going to be fun is that we're kind of lay that out here for you. So, Steve, I would love for you to give a little background of who you are, and it's like, very short, just like, who you are and where you grew up, if you went to university, if you were in the corporate world, and then we'll get into the story of how you founded Nisoni. Sure. Absolutely. Happy to.



So my background is I went through the apprentice school at Newport News Shipbuilding, and I graduated as an honors graduate. I had the highest shop rate average for working with your hands or tools on the waterfront. And then I went at night to get my mechanical engineering degree, kind of like, Noah, I heard this podcast with you, but for me, after I got my mechanical engineering associate, I'm like, this is boring as crap. I hate engineering. I don't really care about distress on a beam and a bridge in the middle of the the river.



It just bore the crap out of me. So I switched to marketing, and I got my bachelor in business. I got an MBA, but after spending seven years on the waterfront working with my hands, I wanted to progress in the shipyard, and I applied for refueling engineer, and I actually went through it was one of my hardest challenges in life. I actually went through long months and months of training. I took a nine and a half hour written exam and a two hour oral board to get certified as a nuclear refueling engineer.



I had reactor plan two A for the refueling of the USS Enterprise. And if you've never sat in an oral board, it's pretty grueling.



And that got me in engineering. I spent twelve years in engineering. Interesting fact, though, backing up to the apprentice school. Days after I graduated, they had layoffs. And so we had a choice of the welders the fitters or get laid off as apprentice graduates.



So I spent 18 months as a pipe welder. And the cool thing is, I learned how to do use things like this. You know what this is? It's a magnetic mirror holder so that you can place it inside the ship on the backside of a pipe, and weld a pipe with a mirror looking at a mirror. So I get into Engineering.



I mentioned that because in engineering, having worked on the waterfront, I see things differently than the engineers did because I knew how to work with my hands. And so when I had senior engineering people telling me they can't weld something, I would say, no, you're wrong. This is how we do it. So I was always different. No, I love that.



And it's funny because I just had one of my listeners that listens to all my podcasts. She's like, what's with the engineering? Because I've had a couple now engineers. And so she's going to be like, wait, another engineer. And I think it's so fascinating because the last couple gentlemen that I've had that have been engineering season three of your next stop, I introduced humans, not just women, and every single one of them recently has been an engineer.



There's something there. I mean, I really think it's something that people go into because they find it fascinating, and then they realize, wait, this is not what I thought it was going to be. This is not what I want to do. And then you take a pivot in life, which I think is fascinating. Just like Noah.



You did. I had Ron Duran on, who was also now he's a professor and a TEDx speaker. So it's really interesting that we have yet another. So my friend that is listening, she's going to start laughing and be like, wait, this is interesting. It's a good springboard into a lot of different things.



And to echo what Steve said, nothing ruins a first date faster than talking about beam stress and all the engineering nerdy stuff. So I think Steve and I both found ways to gravitate away from that. It's more interesting pursuits. But for me, the whole time in the shipyard, I was more of an entrepreneur. So, for example, the shipyard decided they wanted to use Implement, what's called IPTs integrated Product teams to save cost.



And they singled out the island on top of CVN 76 aircraft carrier. And they said, let's see if we can use that concept to save money. And I ended up joining one of the teams that was floundering, and I reviewed their budgets, and I said, the best way we're going to save money is the biggest cost drivers. And I told them we need to eliminate this big slip joint in the windows. Long story short, they had tried to do that for 30 years and couldn't do it.



And I ended up making it happen. And we went from a glass that looks like this this thick, which is the old Coke bottle green glass of the lead to a brand new window design that I helped lead the creation of and eliminating this lip joint, saving thousands of man hours. But it's because I just have a. Different mindset, but that's where the entrepreneurial mindset comes in, so that's really cool. So as you were doing this, you were kind of testing your entrepreneurial world in a job.



And I know that you said that you were working on the water, and as you get into the story, it might connect, but I think it's kind of fascinating that you created something that had to do with water. Was there any correlation? I mean, is water a place that you find solace? I know for myself, like, going to the beach and being on the water is something that settles my mind. It's like my happy place.



If I could live in two different places, it would be either on the water at the beach or in a city. I'm not like a country person, so I would love for you to touch on that a little bit. Was that just a coincidence, or was there some correlation there? So my happy place is gardening in the yard. I'm in the tropical gardening.



I love the beach, too. But the interesting thing is, my grandfather owned Bolton Brothers Plumbing. He was an entrepreneur, started his own plumbing company. I never thought I'd have anything to do with plumbing, nothing to do with water. But I actually got tired of craning my neck to rinse after I brushed my teeth, and I said, there's got to be a better way.



And so my wife and I always wanted to go to Italy, and I want to go to Rome. I want to see the Roman Colosseum. I love the movie Gladiator. And my wife and I drink. She loves different wines, and I love to make pizza.



I like to cook. And so I'm looking at Rome, and all of a sudden, one day, I see these little girls on a cobblestone street, and they walk over with their dog to the street fountain, and there's water coming out of a little tube off the side that's called a Nissani because it hangs down like a big nose. And they sat there and plugged the bottom of it, and water popped out the top like a water fountain. They were installed in 1872, 150 years ago. And I saw that.



I'm like, that's when the moment of inspiration fired inside me, and I said, why isn't that in the bathroom? Right? That's the solution to my craning my neck problem. If the big faucet manufacturers weren't going to do anything about it, I said, I'm going to try to fix it. So that's when I set out to start new Sony.



So that's so interesting. And I love Italy, and my kids were fascinated by those water fountains, too. Every place that we were in Rome would run to try to find it and be like, we filled up our water bottles. Oh, we totally drank from those. We filled up our water bottles because I was like, this is what they're here for.



When we go on vacation, we do some tourist things, but we like to kind of live like the people that live there. So we always kind of look and ask questions, because we're all curious. In my family, what do locals do? We kind of look at what they're doing, where they're eating. We don't go to, like, the tourist restaurants.



We always find, like, the good local restaurants. And so, yeah, my kids, right away we went, and that's what we had, our reusable water bottles, and we filled up from there the whole entire time. Steve, you said something which I think is actually a really cool thing, and you said if the big faucet companies were going to do it, you were going to do it. And I think that's Steve has done something rather remarkable in the sense that the faucet industry, there's, like, really huge players. It's hard to find a little player and someone getting started there.



But Steve's idea was so different and so unique. He was able to create a wedge into that industry with a company that started small and is growing. But one of the things I love about Steve is he didn't let the size of the mowings and the others out there intimidate him from getting into the business. And I think it's worked out well for him. So you're in Rome.



You saw this idea. Now, when you saw it, was it like a light bulb right away? And you're like, I have to figure this out. And where did you go from there? Was it you started googling researching?



So this is kind of a twofold question, and was there any time that you ever were like, you know what? I'm not going to pursue this because it's not meant to happen. If you can take us through a little bit of that journey after you saw it in Rome, it is such. A fun journey, and there's so much to take from it and learn from it, I'm happy to share it. So being the kind of person at the shipyard where I could always solve problems, I knew that I could solve this.



So I went to Home Depot and I bought a faucet, and it was a day off because it was New Year's Day. I came home and I drilled a hole in the top of it, and I put a shut off valve where the mouth of the faucet is, and I connected a garden hose to it. It's all in my driveway. And I made a little video of me shutting off that thing in the water, popping out the top, and I take it to my stepfather. Now, like Noah, my parents were divorced when I was young, and my stepfather, literally and figuratively, he was a big influence in my life.



I mean, because he's six foot three, I'm five eight on a good day. And so being my stepfather, they're six two and six four. I was always challenged to try to do better than them to prove I could do it right. So I've always had that mentality of David and Goliath throughout my life. I'm doing everything right.



So anyway, I'm more excited about this new concept, and I go show it to my stepfather, and I'm like, Check this out. This is a great idea. And he goes, what the heck are you going to do with that? And I said, well, you know, when you rinse after you're rushing, you either got to cup your hands, tilt your head, or use a cup. Right?



Now, he's 83 years old the time and he goes, no. I said, no. I said, what do you do? He goes, oh, I just take my teeth out and put them in a cup.



He bet me $1,000 I would never make sell. One of them bet me $1,000. So that just pushed me out. Okay, now, Daniel, I'm going to do this. I'm going to make this happen.



I love that. Well, and you know what? It's really cool, because you got to that before I ask, because I always you know, when people have this tenacity, when they have this kind of I call it grit, when they go and they don't stop, because they're like, I want to go. I want to accomplish this. And I really do believe that is a very entrepreneurial spirit.



But someone can be an athlete. It can be someone even in corporate, they want to rise to the top and they don't stop, right? They have a vision, and they just go. And I always love to find out kind of where that came from. I think, Noah, we even talked about it on our podcast, about where you got that entrepreneurial spirit.



And it came back to when you were young with the grocery, and you even said to me, I haven't talked about that in 20 years. I can't tell you how many people. I thought about it in 20 years, to be honest with you. No. And I had so many people reach out and say, that was a really cool moment.



And it's so interesting. I think my kids need to get a job when they are younger. So that was definitely a touching moment for people, even if they don't need. The money, having that job. I think I've already hired my 14 year old to help around the office here.



It's very important. My kids as well, when they turn 1415, they're out getting jobs. And so, Steve, what you said was, again, a question I normally would ask, like, where did you get that grit? And you said it. You had brothers that were taller, you had a stepfather that you always felt like you kind of had to prove.



And the fact that he bet, you know, some people would have shied, right? They would have been like, all right, I don't want to do that because I don't want to fall on my face. I don't want to fail. But because of how you grew up, it was like, no, I'm going to dig in and I'm going to figure this out. So I absolutely love that.



So he bet you that $1,000 and where did you go next? So the cool thing is, having worked in the shipyard, I had lots of people I could have turned to to help me design this faucet. However, they didn't have the tools at home on their computer. So I'm thinking, now, what do I do now? This is 2015, so it's quite a while back on the Internet days, and I look for freelancers.



And I've actually used a tool called Elance, which is now called Upwork because it merged with Odesk. And so I went on Elance and I actually found an engineer in Thailand that had fluid dynamics, cab modeling in the background. I needed I worked with him to develop an initial design. And of course, being the novice entrepreneur, I just said, I got to protect this, right? It's the wrong step to do a patent.



But I jumped right into it. I need to protect it. So I looked locally to find an attorney, and it was way too expensive. So I think, man, what am I going to do? Oh, I'll go to Elance.



I found an attorney in India that worked with the US patent Office. Cost me about one fifth of the cost. And I actually got two patents, the design and utility patent. Now, a design patent was worthless because you can easily get around those. And at this time, I really didn't even have my own design.



But it really wasn't worthless because the very next year, that summer, I entered a startup competition. I had no product yet. I had a CAD model, and my design patent was issued the week before the competition. I was down selected as one of the top five companies to appear in Front It's, Inc. Magazine and Cox Media.



And we were competing for $10,000 in cash and prizes, right? And I get on stage and I'm able to tell them, I got this patent. I got this great idea. It's going to save water. It's going to do all these things.



I won the judges favorite $5,000 cash. I won the 5000 prizes, and I also won the audience favorite for $250 memory Express gift card. And it was having a design bad that made no difference to help me win that. Right, right. So that was the cool part of it.



Well, I mean, the thing is, and this is what I always want the listeners to take away when you have something that you're excited about, when you're passionate about and you talk about it with that excitement and passion, other people want to be a part of that, and they want to know, okay, well, what are you doing? Why are you so excited? I want to know more about this. And you can see, obviously, you're very excited, and this is what you were meant to do. And I love that, that little step.



I'm fascinated. And after I do this, I do need to start looking into seeing that my other guests that are coming on, because there's something with this engineering thing. And I have to say, I am always been fascinating with putting things together. I think I had shared this with Noah, putting things together. I was always like the one when we got a bookshelf or whatever, I was like, oh, I'll put it together.



And then when I had kids, I feel like one of them stole it. We haven't figured out which one stole it, but I'm not as good as I used to be. And I think it's because things have gotten a little bit more advanced and stuff. But the technology stuff, I used to always put the cable box and change the cords in the back of the TV, and I didn't have any training at all. It just kind of commonsense to me.



And then again, when I had kids, I remember the first time I went to go, like, put the surround sound or something on, and I was like, Wait a second, I'm not comprehending this. One of the kids stole it. But there is a very much of a mindset and a way of your brain works. And we've talked about this on the podcast many times. We all have certain ways our brain works.



There's the creative side, and then there's the right brain, left brain. And I feel like with an engineering and correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like with an engineer, it is really both of your sides are strong. You're not more right brained or left brain to kind of work together. Am I incorrect there? It depends on the engineer.



I would say Steve and are both more exceptions to the rule. I think many engineers do go into that field where they just talk about being stressed on bridges all the time. That's their whole career, and they love that. And that's great. That's fantastic.



There's no joke about engineers. How do you tell an introverted engineer from an extroverted engineer. And the answer is, the extroverted engineer stares at your shoes when he's talking to you. So there are a lot of engineers that fit into that mold, and there's reasons for those people to be there. They do very important things.



I think people like Steve and myself, we go through that. We learn all that stuff, but we're really just not satisfied. I don't want to redesign the turbine blade every day for the next 50 years. And we have a more creative side, so we have that at the right side of our brain that says, screaming, don't lock me away. I want to get out.



I want to participate. And that's how we end up doing the types of things we do. I think there is a subset of engineers that are like us, but it's. A minority to allow you to know it's real quickly. My wife is an aerospace engineer at University of Alabama.



She's a blonde rocket scientist. I kid her about that. But if you've ever seen cables on a ship, they all go up nice and neatly at every deck level. They turn out all orderly. They're all in order.



And I said, that's the way her brain is. Everything goes up and fires off in the right direction at the right time, and her memory is great, sharp. I said mine, it's more like this, right? It's like a big bowl of spaghetti, man. I'm not fires all different directions, but I'm more creative.



I'm into that whole launcho and real spirit, right? I'm even more fascinated because there are generalizations and you guys have joked about this, but when you think of an accountant, right? We all think of that accountant. And I really have never really met, like, a super fun accountant. And there's nothing wrong with that.



They're just that, and I'm sorry if there's any accountants out there. I'm not saying that you're not fun, but when you meet someone that's creative, it is a very different you know, it's a different feel. It's a different personality, whether you're type A, type B, whether introvert, extrovert. And so I am just super fascinated that on the show, the last three humans men that I've had on are these engineers, but you all are similar, which obviously my podcast is attracting because it's about entrepreneur spirits. It's about following your passion.



And so that makes sense. Would you really want to do a show with an engineer describing all his favorite types of screws and why he likes this screw versus that screw? No. Oh, my gosh, no. And my listeners would not also like because it's all about the story.



They're fascinated by that, and that's great. And frankly, they do types of jobs in engineering that I couldn't do. They would drive me insane. I don't think Steve could do them either, but as a society, we need them. They're the reason your bridges stand up.



They're the reason they're the reason your. Engine in your car works, but they're not the reason your car is fun to drive, they're just the reason it works. Right. No, totally right. We need all different people for the world to go around.



I'm just now fascinated that there's been three engineers that are more of the creative, because this is not the norm, as you said. This is you guys are a little bit out of the norm, but I just think it's kind of very comical that it just happens to be the engineers that are an entrepreneur that are now creating different things. So I love that. Yes, that out of the box thinking. You know, I took that winnings that competition winnings.



I like to do more research into anything I'm studying right now to listen to podcasts and to learn more about a particular topic. And so at the time, I was trying to learn about inventing, and I found a book from Tamara Monasov on new products, and she had recommended somebody, and I hired that person to build my first prototype faucet. All we did was rebuild the downspout or the spout part of it with the end I needed, and I used that, actually, to apply for a TV show. And I actually was on stage with Steve Harvey against another entrepreneur, and I won $50,000 in that competition, and I actually ended up using that money to hire Noah to help me develop the first prototype of the faucet. But my whole message there for your listeners is if you don't have money, there are competitions out there you're going to go apply for.



And I won over $80,000 in startup competitions that have helped me get to where I'm at, which ultimately led toward I received $600,000 in investment from an investor out of Minnesota, 250,000 locally, and I raised almost a million dollars in investment alone, which is huge. And I love how you kind of segue it into that because that was going to be like so you found Noah through the competitions that you were doing? No, I found a reference Noah was given to me as a reference from somebody. And then I actually followed up with another lady, Karina, that Noah actually helped her with. She had this tool that they would actually picture hanging tool to mount your pictures with.



And we're still friends, she and I, and her husband Jared. And I think knowing them still connect, but it's a reference I use.



Noah, you had said that a lot of people that you work with are references. You know, it's people that have had success with you and then word of mouth. Sure. That's really my goal. I'm at a point I think we talked about I'm at a point in my career where I don't need to finagle people to do a project I know is not going to work.



So I look for success stories these days, and success stories become good references. Well, they do because I say this all the time. Stories connect. That's what connects us, everyone. That's what connected you and I.



I was fascinated because of that curious part of my brain, how I've always been fascinated. When people create things, where does that come from? Where do they start? Where do they go? And Steve, you said something that I think is really profound, too.



When I have come up with ideas throughout having kids, I was always the person that was like, Please, I want to go invent that I never went further. I think it was always fun for me just to kind of create it in my mind, but it was always like, oh, I need to get that patent. Okay, let me go. But that's not what you do. So I love that you said that, because that's what people are listening.



They're like, okay, I have this idea. You think, Well, I need to make it safe so no one else can take it. So what would you suggest? You come up with this idea? Where would you suggest people to go to do these competitions or find if they have the cash?



If they don't have the cash, can you give us a little kind of background to what you suggest there? Yeah, sure. First of all, there are a lot of good Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups that you can collaborate with other entrepreneurs and learn from. There's tons of podcasts, too, and books. For me.



I like Zig ziglar. I like automobile university. So Audible.com. I get books and I listen to when I mow the grass or when I drive anywhere, and I just learn I soak up all that information. And you learn about the process of inventing, and you learn the right steps.



There are steps to it. I was actually asked to speak to a school in North Carolina of 120 students that were middle school, if you will, and they were in gifted programs, and they wanted me to talk about what it's like, really? Not from what you see on Shark Tank. So I actually developed this is our model, if you will, for new product development. You always say that invention when you're up here, it's not really worth a lot.



Anybody can have ideas. It's not until you put the effort and reduce the risk by bringing the product to market that it becomes worth something. So you got to go through the steps. So this is the one that I developed for Nick Sony. This is our process.



No, I love that I gave it. To the students so they can have it as a lead behind, right? No, I think that's fascinating. And that's what people need, right? They come up with these, but they don't know where to go.



And that's what stops a lot of people in their tracks, because they're like, oh, wait, I don't know where to go. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of this. I don't know I don't have the funds, but you just gave them all of those steps. Noah offered a 15 minutes free consultation.



I would highly recommend talking to him and he'll evaluate your idea a little bit too, if it's kind of realistic or not. Ideals down, unfortunately. Well, I shoot them down with homework. So here's the problem. If you can't fix this, you don't have a business.



Don't spend any money with me or anyone else. And some people don't like that. But I'd rather be honest and rich, I guess. I'll also add that a lot of people are worried to talk to people about their idea because they're afraid someone's going to steal it. Noah is not that kind of person.



I know firsthand, he's not going to steal your idea. So trust is a factor and you can trust product quickstar with Noah. Well, and that's one of the reasons why I've done now. This is my third show with Noah, because that's, I think what is missing sometimes in the world is that piece right? There's so many people out there.



I mean, there's so many people that take advantage of other people. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I get contacted probably in a day, hey, let me help you with this, let me help you with that. And half of the time I don't go and say yes, even if it's something I need. I'm like, I don't know where they came from. They're going to try to steal my identity because that's what we're taught nowadays right over here.



So I think it's really important that there's no out there in the world and people like yourself that are going to recommend him. And the thing I think is really important is that Noah is honest and like, no, these are the things that you need to do to create a viable business. Because that's the other thing we don't get. I mean, even if you go there's times that I'm going to this is going to sound random, but it's not. But like, you go to the doctor and you want advice and they don't tell you the advice, they give you like this bullshit, like, story.



And you're like, just freaking tell me yes or no. Do I need to do this or don't need to do this? So it's awesome that you can have someone that says, hey, yeah, I think it's a great idea, but this is what you need to do. Or you know what, let me tell you what I see wrong with it. And if you can fix it, then I think and then that I think is really important.



I think that's a great analogy. Do you really want to go to a doctor who's going to tell you everything is great, whether it is or not? You're great. You're doing good. You got heart disease, but you're doing perfect.



Why you said that, Julia? Because in March, my apple watch told me I had a fib. I'm like, Are you kidding me? So, long story short, I ended up seeing a heart doctor at the local heart hospital. EPA specialist, right?



He was late for the meeting, and when I'm trying to understand the background of how I got AFib, and he says, can we stick to AFib? And he said, It kind of frustrated me. I ended up firing him. And I went to the clinic. The number one heart hospital in the country.



Got treated back in May, and I've been free of it ever since. But the long story short is you're responsible for your own health. You take the lead. I fired my EP locally. I know it makes me crazy, but really, anything out there?



Our dog just got ACL surgery, and I literally had to get five different opinions because no one would say, okay, if she doesn't get it, this is what's going to happen. All everyone was talking around, I was like, okay, just let me know. I don't care about the money. Is it is it beneficial for her, or is it not beneficial for give me the pros and cons, and then we can come together instead of just talking around the situation. It makes me nuts.



So I love that there's someone like Noah Direct, and this is what you need to do, or if you don't do it, this is not going to happen. So I think it's really important. So anyone that's listening right now and is like, you know what? I do have this idea. Noah offered it on the podcast.



Again, if you haven't listened, definitely go listen, because this story is really fun. That's what you do. Reach out to know, hey, this is my idea. What do I do? And so, Steve, can you also now share a little bit about we have about ten more minutes, like, where people can find your product.



What some of the big wins that you've had? What are some of the things that maybe you would have changed? Just give us a little bit of your journey as you are creating this Sony. And one other thing, Steve, I don't know what you're comfortable talking about. The project we're working now, which is.



I'll cover, it super exciting to me. For lots of reasons. Let me hit that. So this is cool. It's really fun for me.



A couple of things. One, we launched at the worst possible time start a COVID. So all the trade shows were canceled. So it really caused us to consume our marketing budget as operating capital. Right.



So as an entrepreneur, you've got to find a way to pivot. How do you keep the company going while you try to wait for sales to come back in and you ask back up, where can you find us? We're at Masonry.com, but those are generally our MSRP prices. We're on sale on wayfair. Just go to Wayfair.com and type in masoni.



And you'll see our faucets and our filters. This is an example of our gloss black nickel faucet. You just rotate the fountain lever and it becomes a water fountain. These are solid brass faucets. They come with a 30 day happiness guarantee.



You don't like it, return it for any reason, we'll give you money back. They're amazing. And so about where do we go? Right? My wife has always said, you need to figure out how to apply for an SBIR from the government, right?



Small business, Innovative research, and you can get a grant. And I kept thinking, how am I going to put this into a grant? What's going to work for me? But I am always looking for ways for different funding vehicles. As you know, when I raised a Raty grand in startup competitions, you look for a to try to be creative.



And so one day, Dr. Nancy Gordon at Olderman University, who I've been known for seven years because I actually won their inaugural seven five seven pitch competition, I won $757 plus 200 in consulting services. So anyway, Nancy introduced me to Dr. Lisa Captain. Lisa runs the ODU Monarch Physical Therapy lab.



And when she saw her faucets, she said, you know what? If we had a sensor version of this, it could help our patients so much, they deal with quadriplegic paraplegics and so on. And so I'm like, wow, that's a cool idea. So one of the things I've said that I spent 25 years building aircraft carriers and submarines at the shipyard, and then I spent eleven years helping grow my wife's company from nothing to a multimillion dollar government consulting business. But at this point in life, I really wanted to invent something that would make people's lives better and save water to benefit the planet, and along the way be a good role model to our sons and other entrepreneurs.



And that's what I really like to do now. Right? So after hearing Lisa say that, I applied for a grant, a phase one grant with the National Institute of Health to develop a sensor version of our fountain faucet. And it took two iterations, but we rewarded a $259,000 grant back in June to develop the sensor version. That would function with a few different ways.



One, you could say, Alexa, turn on my water fountain, and it would turn it on. Or you could use motion and wave your arm by it. We're even using technology from a company called Toby. They're the leading company to develop eye gaze trackers used in like, PlayStations or the Metaquest Goggles AR Goggles. So we're working with them right now to implement that technology into the faucet.



So you could actuate it just with your eyes. So let's say you're a wounded veteran with no blue limbs and you wanted to turn the faucet on with your eyes. We're doing that as well. And on top of that, instead, not just having the fountain feature we're incorporating a grooming nozzle. And the grooming nozzle is going to be a spray where it can either be a cone spray, a flat cone, a hollow cone.



We don't know yet what it's going to be because we're testing different things. But the idea there is that would be used to rent facial cleanser or make up remover or shaving cream, what have you. And the next cool thing about it is I'm working again with ODU, the mechanical engineering department, and I've got two students on the team, and the students are leading that development effort, and they run the ODU Makerspace lab. And we're working on these little nozzle pieces you can see here. And what happens is these offtheshelf grooming nozzles we're buying and testing don't fit the current faucet hole that we have.



So they're 3D printing little adapters. And this is becoming so cool to the mechanical engineering professor over there. He's like, I want this to become your project, what do you call it, your student project for your whole degree. And in fact, the ODU University is now sending their marketing director over. They're going to do a video story on this.



It's part of getting it right. And that's the thing. I mean, it's so fucking cool what you're doing, and I know this is awesome. So thank you for bringing me, Steve. I think it's so fascinating.



Definitely. I also want to do one of the live show with this, too, because I think this will be really fun to be able to stream this, especially when you're continuing the next time you have like, another big thing coming out as this keeps growing. I would love to do it there because I think it would be fun for people to come up and no one I talked about this to come up and ask questions because that's what that platform is about. I want to go to the saving the planet. Was that something that you originally thought, okay, this can help, or you realized after you created the project along the way?



So as we started using the faucet, I was like, wow, you know, the flow rate is so much less coming out of the top than it is at the bottom. And then you hear things like the American Dill Association saying one third of Americans leave the water running when they brush. So if you have a normal faucet, it's two, two gallons a minute. You brush for two recommended minutes, you're using four and a half gallons. The flow rate, because we have this little bitty flow restrictor in our fountain feature, is only 00:26 GPM.



So if you let it run while you brush, it's going to use a half a gallon. That's it. 88% savings over a normal fountain feature. We actually have a water saving calculator built into our website. And for where we live, you get billed water rate, sewer rate, and then there's a discharge rate.



So there's three different rates you get billed for using water, and we calculate and show you how much you save by switching to a fountain faucet. If everybody could switch if we had our sales targets by 2030, we could save a billion gallons of water annually. That's so cool.



My mind is just going right now. It's like going and going. There's so many things that you can do and so many I mean, basically, pain points out there that you can help, because that's one of the things when people are creating a company, it's always like, who can you help?



What can you solve? It's like, what can you solve out there for the marketplace? How can you help this market with all the projects you're doing now? Also with the water conservation. So there are so many angles that you can also I'm sure you're so busy being like, okay, who do I touch here?



Is it builders? Is it, like, wayfare companies? Who is it? So who really are you marketing to other than the consumer? So we are involved in what's called Peanut Crossing.



This is a local redevelopment effort where they took an old peanut processing facility and converted to luxury apartments or high end apartments, and they put our faucets in it. So that's pretty cool. But the challenge we face is getting the word out. People don't know we exist, especially in California with all the water challenges they have. Nobody out there knows we're around.



And so I think about the George Foreman grill. If you remember that that was one of the best selling items in history. But did you know that before it became that name, it was just a taco meat grilling machine? They got rebranded as, you know, the Lean Green Fat Grilling Machine and had George's face put on there, and they sold like crazy. We need an influencer.



You know, we'd love to find an influencer that could help us that cares about the planet, that cares about saving water and making people's lives better. I had a lady come to me at the Kitchen Bath show in Orlando in February, and she said, do you realize your faucet helps me with vertigo? I said, no, how is that? She said, well, when I sip from your faucet, I can just lean straight down and lean up, and that's it. But if I turn my head, I get the spins and I get vertigo bad.



So all the time I learn new ways. It's helping people, right? Which is really cool. It doesn't leonardo DiCaprio if you're listening, Leo, I think this is a project that you need to take on. I think it's fascinating.



And again, I think the live show would be really fun for you to share it and maybe even the live show. The next convention you're at, we've got to go there, and we do the live show in person there. I think that's an idea that we can talk about I don't know when your next convention is, but I think that that is, I think, what your product is doing and what it can. As I said, my head is spinning. So I have some ideas for you.



We could talk off camera, but my last question, I think, for you is, did your stepfather ever pay you that $1,000? So here's the really cool and cool part of this whole story. When I got the first faucets made with Noah, we came up with our own design. And you can see the handles are a little wider than normal. They're comfortable, really comfortable in your hands.



It's sleek and elegant. I got prototypes made. I gave one to my stepfather and he installed it, and he actually loved it. Unfortunately, he got colon cancer and died within six months. I'm sorry we never got there to him getting to see it sell, but I was extremely happy.



And he gave me some feedback. He said, with your threaded part down here, you need to extend it a little longer. No, it would make the nut deeper. That's what it was, because the tool used to put it on was a little tougher. So he gave me some design feedback along the way after he installed his.



And it was just so fun to see the revelation that hit him once he started using it and he found the benefit that he didn't think he would find. Right. And he also if you believe in the afterlife I do. He's there and he's helping you every step of the way. I think he believes in you as he always did.



And I think that's very cool. Again, I think this is amazing. I would love to continue this conversation again on the live show because I think it will be really fun for people to also see as you grow, as you help more parts and find the different things that the one faucet can help. I mean, vertigo, people that have ailments, the bending of the neck. There are so many different things.



The conservation of water. There's so many things that are out there that I think are just fascinating. So I just want to thank you so much for joining and no, I think this was awesome. I mean, I think this is a really exciting one. I know you said that I would love Steve and I would love what he's doing, and you are correct.



So thank you. Like I said, Steve is one of my favorite clients ever, so I'm glad he was able to come on the show. Juliet one of my fun things is the people that I can bring together as a team. We have the most fantastic team working this new sensor faucet. One of the things, the NIH, when they reviewed our grant, they said, we don't see anybody on your team that has machine learning and computer vision background.



So I went and got two more PhDs. We have six PhDs working on this project with us and just and people like Noah. Noah also introduced me to Craig, too. His title for his own company is Technology Wrangler. Who wouldn't want a technology wrangler?



We've got the best freaking team and I'm so amazed by working with all of them. And we're going to have a most amazing product as a result. It's exciting. I love that. I love that.



Well, thank you so much for joining Your Next Stop, and I can't wait to continue this and see where your company goes. Nissani, you guys, don't forget to follow Steve. You can find him on LinkedIn and his last name is Waddell. Nisoni is N-A-S-O-N-I. You can find that on All Socials, but you can also find it in Nisoni.com.



And stay tuned because in the next few months we will have especially I'm sure you guys have so many questions and I love that because my listeners are curious and they know what to do, like share, rate and review. That is how this gets out. And you might listen to the podcast and be like, oh, that's so cool. But you don't know there's someone in your life, whether it's a neighbor, a friend, a mom, a dad, a sister, a brother, uncle, cousin, who is a niece, nephew that has an idea and they don't know where to go and they need to know it and you just don't know it. So share this episode with as many people as you can and we will see you again on the next episode of Your Next Stop or YNF Live.



Thank you, Noah, and thank you, Steve, for joining. That was fun. Thank you. I hope you liked this episode of your next stop. Please subscribe to my channel, share with your friends and join in each week.

My focus is entirely on helping you follow your passion, even when you feel like you've got stuck in crazy town. There is a way out, its me helping you. You don't have to ditch everything in your life that is making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, you just need some help to navigate it.


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