2011 B.E. Small Business Award Winners

These companies nab top honors at this year's Entrepreneurs Conference

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Whether it’s a new service, product, or type of business model, these creative entrepreneurs will have an indelible impact on the way business is done. This award is given to a business approaching entrepreneurship in an innovative or groundbreaking manner.

  • MagnoGrip Inc.
  • Type of business: Manufactures magnetic tool storage gear and accessories
  • Founder/CEO: Andre Woolery
  • Locations: San Francisco, California and Shenzhen, China
  • www.mdgtools.com

When Andre Woolery assembled his handy magnetic wristband, which kept tool bits close during ‘round the house handy projects, he soon realized he had a potential business on his hands. The then MBA student went into action tapping into his Stanford University classmates and their networks to get the MagnoGrip Magnetic Wristband patented. Woolery performed thorough market research, pinpointing several hardware stores within a 20-mile radius of his Menlo Park, California home, to pitch his product to on consignment. The Jamaican-born entrepreneur first brought his product to market in 2005. Since then, the wristband has made its way to more then 1,700 Lowe’s hardware stores, Home Depot, Walmart and Costco.

But the growth hasn’t been without risk.

“I ultimately decided that if they were willing to test market our products, then I should be able to sell out my first production run,” says Woolery about the local sales runs.

He has since extended the magnetic handiwear concept to include Quick Snap, a magnetic tape measure holder, a magnetic drill holder and a nine-pocket magnetic electrician pouch—all launched in 2011. The 35-year-old also launched a second office in Shenzhen, China.

What propelled you to start the business?
I started MagnoGrip because I felt that our first product, the magnetic wristband, solved a pain point that do-it yourselfers and pro-contractors experience. I also noticed that there was nothing like my invention on the market at the time.

What was a turning point for your business? Why?
Making the decision to focus exclusively on getting traction in the “big box” retail distribution channel. It forced us to take a hard look at our company and our business. As a result, we’ve improved our product offering, our supply chain and logistics operations and our sales and marketing initiatives.

Can you think back to a risk you took that paid off?
The key is to take educated risks so that you have a better chance of being successful. Educated risks will allow you to be prepared to handle success as well as the many setbacks you will encounter along the way.

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • LaRita Smith

    Congratulations to all of the 2011 winners! Knowing the Coalescence LLC co-founders specifically, I can say without a doubt that they were destined for greatness and this is only the beginning of their success journey! Kudos!

  • Jordan GRAY

    Hola! I’m not surpised that Jonathan and Adam won,they show and have alot of determination and leadership!! CONGRATSS CUZZOS!