This year marks the third year of Perfect Pitch MV, where Island entrepreneurs pitch their ideas “Shark Tank“–style to local businesses in hopes of getting seed money for their ventures. The 2017 third-place winner was N.O.W. Tone Therapy System, and we thought it would be interesting to follow up and see how they’re doing. Perfect Pitch MV is sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, Seidman Investment Portfolios, Martha’s Vineyard Bank, Cape & Islands SCORE, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and many individual donors.
Imagine a product that helps people reduce stress and anxiety, arguably the most common of modern-day ailments. A product for which the Perfect Pitch MV contest awarded a financial kick-start in 2017. Sounds like a sure winner, doesn’t it?
Michael Joly, co-developer of the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System along with partner Alene Sibley, and contest awardwinner, says, “The first Perfect Pitch MV came at the right time; it gave me an opportunity to pitch my very early-stage company and product in public and get valuable feedback.”
Joly recalls, “In early 2017, we had just incorporated, and didn’t even have a final product name or working prototype of our first product.” He admits to having “some pre-stage jitters and anxiety that my pre-prototype, hacked-together, sound demo would not work.” Ultimately, the Perfect Pitch MV contest gave him a reason to create that working prototype, and a presentation “about how my company is on a mission to bring peace and healing to every mind” with a meditation device. Joly remembers instructing the audience “Just listen!” When Joly spotted his early mentor, an Island resident and SCORE volunteer, beaming at him from the back of the room, he knew he had made a good impression.
Perfect Pitch MV encouraged Joly to complete building the first version of his product, and late that year he launched N.O.W. Tone Therapy System. Joly describes his product as “an easy-to-use, hardware-based, meditation aid that helps people reduce stress and anxiety as they become more deeply connected to the transformative power of their own inner peace.”
As a result of winning one of the Perfect Pitch MV prizes, Joly was able to hire the services of a talented local graphic designer to do some logos and business cards. He credits the opportunity to present his pitch in public for helping him tell his story clearly and persuasively. Joly was also introduced to another Island resident, a successful serial entrepreneur, who became both a mentor and friend, and eventually one of his first “angel” investors.
According to Joly, N.O.W. Tone Therapy System is intended to help many different user populations. As part of its general aim to reduce stress and anxiety, it can help:
- Younger school children start their days calmly and with better focus
- Support the management of PTSD symptoms
- Assist in learning to meditate and in sustaining a meditation practice
- Allow experienced meditators to get “in the zone” much more quickly
- Provide comfort to hospice patients during their transition from this life to the next
The product is available at the Vineyard Arts Gallery in Vineyard Haven, through various outlets, including Amazon, the Grommet, Health Journeys, and the product’s own website (nowbysolu.com). The latter includes a demo of the product, as well as instructions on how to use it for best results. Testimonials and a blog showcase N.O.W. Tone Therapy in action.
Joly says his business has achieved “early product market fit,” and he is laying the groundwork for the hockey-stick growth he anticipates. He is planning to move his business and distribution team to Tampa, Fla., from the Vineyard, Cape, and Boston, because he was accepted into billionaire financier Jeff Vinik’s Embarc Collective accelerator. Joly is also attending the Transformative Tech Academy’s one-month online accelerator for companies engaged in the tech-for-human-flourishing movement. He is currently in the process of reincorporating as a Delaware B corporation (a public benefit corporation) with a registered place of business in Tampa.
Joly proudly lists several key milestones for his product and company in the years since his win at Perfect Pitch MV:
- Incorporated as Hear Now Systems, Inc., and established a consumer brand as Solu
- Established online distribution via several mainstream vendors and his own website
- Generated revenue and profit every month since launch
- Hired a key first employee to manage customer satisfaction and retained an “outsourced CFO-on-demand” to provide strategic and tactical financial management
- Refined N.O.W. Tone Therapy System, now in its fourth production run
- Several follow-on products and marketing concepts in the development pipeline
Joly’s advice for other contestants is, “Tell the Perfect Pitch MV reviewers and judges how you are going to bring economic benefit to the M.V. community.” Joly believes that Nancy Gardella at the Chamber of Commerce, with her colleagues, saw in his presentation the prospects of a really big success story. He is certain now that “she won’t be disappointed.”