Its not everyday two young entrepreneurs from Windsor find themselves in the home furnishing capital of the world presenting to potential investors and clients.
Edwin Padilla and Peter Wrobel are co-founders of Powerball Technologies Inc., which developed a powerful software tool called Og – for augmented reality—that allows customers and salespeople to showcase furniture virtually at home or any other location through a tablet device.
This past October Padilla travelled to Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina, which has the highest concentration of furniture manufacturers and related businesses in the world.
His trip was funded in part by the Soft Landing program administered by the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) and WEtech Alliance. Soft Landing provides startup companies with up to $4,000 to bring their product or service to markets outside Canada.
“We generated over $120,000 in sale opportunities,” says co-founder Padilla. “More importantly, we made great connections and had the opportunity to meet with potential clients face-to-face and gather invaluable feedback”.
While in North Carolina Padilla was based at a 5,000 square foot shared entrepreneurial space in downtown Greensboro called Collab, where students and industry collaborate to bring startups to market. It is similar to the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator back home where Og was hatched.
Padilla met the management team of The Furniture Marketing Group – the largest furniture-buying group with close to 800 storefronts.
In addition to meeting clients, Padilla met with another technology provider – GSO360 – to finalize a strategic partnership for the furniture market.
“Our services are totally complementary,” says Padilla. “Through this bundling of our service offering we leverage our technology, gain a fabulous partner and establish a beachhead in North Carolina – where the action is”.
WEtech Alliance is the local Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) based in Windsor, Ontario that recruited Powerball Technologies for Soft Landing.
“As a border city, our entrepreneurs should be naturally inclined to go after markets outside Canada in order to scale and find success,” says Yvonne Pilon, President and CEO of WEtech Alliance. “Programs like Soft Landing cultivate that instinct and provide resources during those critical early stages for startups.”
“Soft Landing is a valuable program,” says Padilla. “We owe a great deal of our success to CDMN and WEtech Alliance for opening the door to an important market.”
“In addition to Soft Landing, we are grateful for the ongoing mentoring we receive from Deborah Livneh,” says Wrobel, referring to the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at WEtech Alliance. “We have learned quite quickly that the basis for startup success is partnerships and getting the right information at the right time helps”.