With its third ‘Into the Blue’ event, Lowe’s has perfected the mechanics of hosting a massive start-up get-together. It has become like a home-improvement product version of Shark Tank.
At the event, vendor hopefuls lined up to pitch their products to a team of merchants who awarded them an online, blue, or gold ticket. From there, it was on to the Vice Presidents of various merchandising departments, where it was decided if the product was destined for platinum status. The mission was to introduce new and exciting product lines to Lowe’s, as innovation is the lifeblood of the broader business.
Seven winners of the platinum award, including Hans Dose, one of the founders of Tenikle, a phone and camera mount company, received purchase orders from Lowe’s.
“We came here not knowing what to expect. The event was incredible, the facility is amazing, and we just walked out of here with the biggest PO (purchase order) we have ever gotten, we could not be more thrilled, and we are excited for the road ahead, and the expansion of our relationship together,” said Mr Dose.
He said the win was surreal, mainly because just a few years ago, he was living in an RV with his wife, and now Lowe’s, one of the largest home-improvement retailers in the nation, will stock his product on the shelves.
Edo Cohen travelled to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Los Angeles, California to also pitch his company’s sustainable solution for charcoal to Lowe’s. He presented Blazing Coco charcoal logs, which are made from discarded coconut shells – a previously wasted resource. The abundance of coconut products like oil, water, and milk on the market has led to an increase in coconut shells. Edo claims that his charcoal logs burn longer and cleaner than any other product currently available on the market.
He also says no major retailers have been selling the sustainable grilling materials in-store, which has now changed as Edo won himself a ‘platinum’ purchase order from Lowe’s at the signature entrepreneurial event.
“Every step has been completely unexpected, and it creates excitement for the person on my side. It is so different to talk about your product in this kind of environment because you get to tell your story and be a bit vulnerable. The folks here listening to people in a short time get to know quite a bit about the person pitching them,” Mr Cohen said.
However, not all products are suited for in-store sales, which is why online ticketing is an essential part of the “Into the Blue” model. For instance, consider ‘Avonya’s Blend’.
Emily Jefferson came to Lowe’s ‘Into the Blue’ entrepreneurial event with high hopes for her seafood spice blend, Century Seafood Seasoning. ‘Avonya’s Blend’ was born after the 25-year-old experienced a near-death allergic reaction. She transformed that traumatic experience into a budding business by creating a spice blend that includes all the ingredients and has low sodium content.
Emily pitched her proprietary blend to the grill merchants and won herself a ticket to feature the seafood blend online. She said she was grateful for the opportunity to grow the black-owned business and returned home to Chicago happy with the results.
“I am just hoping to get my foot in the door. It has been a long time coming for Avonya’s Blends, and I want to have the chance to prove that my company and seasoning are worthy and that it’s a great product to be a part of the Lowe’s family,” she said.