REAL SHOE-INS: Graduating from Harvard Business School might cause some to want to kick off the shoes, but two recent alum looked at that tendency as an opportunity for a viable business. Sprung from what started as a school project, Zorpads, odor-eliminating inserts are being launched by cofounders Taylor Wiegele and Sierra Smith. The pair met at Harvard Business School, where both graduated from in May.
The $5 one-size-fits-all items are sold on the Zorpads site, and between 10,000 and 50,000 units are expected to be sold this year, according to Smith. Once stuck to the insole of a shoe, Zorpads are supposed to last for 60 wearings.
Extending the technology for a variety of types of shoes and for the interior of gym bags are areas being considered for future growth. Wiegele and Smith tested earlier versions at HBS, and finished as semi-finalists in Harvard’s New Venture Competition. That ranking helped to attract the attention of Rough Draft Ventures which is supporting Zorpads with funding and mentoring. RDV cofounder Peter Boyce II noted that the resources at HBS has proved to be a powerhouse for helping early stage founders in launching their startups, pointing to Dia & Co. and Rent The Runway as success stories.
In early October, the General Catalyst-led RDV and Guy Oseary’s and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures will be helping Forbes with the Global Change The World Competition at Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston. The winner with the best scalable business idea will walk away with $500,000 in financial support. David Fialkow, cofounder and managing director of General Catalyst, is an ardent supporter of Forbes Under 30 Summit, having described it as “a global beacon for entrepreneurship.”
The fashion sector is not entirely new for either Zorpads cofounder. Smith interned at a start-up that focused on high-end emerging designers and Wiegele interned at Target. She is currently based in New York and he is working out of Los Angeles. They are selling their shoe-enhancing liners in five-packs, 25-packs or as a subscription service. They claim this is the first time that the NASA-tested odor-eliminating material, which is sourced from another company, is being used for consumer purposes as an adhesive activated carbon cloth on a rayon substance, they said.