Hi! My name is Melissa and I am the creator of nodpod -- the weighted blanket for your eyes. Nodpod is unlike anything on the market and is surprising people across the Nation as a sleep must-have! The nodpod is a microbead weighted sleep mask that can lay freely over your eyes or can be secured with our pull-through slit. No velcro, no elastic -- nothing between you and a good night's sleep.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I come from a large creative family. My dad, Stan Watts, had a career as an illustrator and both my mom and dad always encouraged our creativity. Growing up, I was always coming up with different business ideas. While daydreaming I put myself through college and then spent my first few professional years as a pharmaceutical sales rep. I really enjoyed that job, I learned a lot about healthcare and the human condition. After having my second child, I decided to take the risk of leaving this lucrative job to find a way to spend more time with my family and pursue my entrepreneurial vision. I took the lead of the family business we had started years earlier in traffic control.
It shows through your work when you love what you are creating.
One summer we decided to take our girls on a cross-country motorhome trip when the idea of nodpod was born. One restless night I reached for the arm of my sweatshirt to lay feely over my eyes to block the light from the parking lot we had pulled into -- and at that moment I knew THAT was the idea I had been waiting my whole life for. I could hardly sleep. I was so energized and excited. I have been working on nodpod ever since with the very same level of passion and enthusiasm as I had at that moment. However, the real discovery was yet to be made.
I was looking for a fill material to weight my idea for this “strap-free” sleep mask and came across a company online that was filling their blankets with PollyPellets and they were advertising that the weight from their blankets would bring calming relief. “Deep Touch Pressure” is the phenomenon we experience with a hug or under a heavy quilt. Discovering that phenomenon was as exciting of a moment as for me as discovering the idea itself. I remember thinking “can’t we all benefit from this?” The nodpod was now not only just a “strap-free eye mask” it was going to be a wellness product, helping people relax and get to sleep. Wow!
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
If I had to summarize these last 9 years from that late-night to today it would be: OBSESSED. In the very beginning, I read every imaginable “how-to” book, googled and googled some more looking for that magical step-by-step guide but, I was unable to find it. Yes, there are good pearls of wisdom all around us- but in the end, it’s about just starting somewhere, anywhere -- get it out there. For me, my real growth and evolution came from exhibiting at gift shows. I remember how scared I was before my first show. Are people going to like it? Will it make sense? Will they love it as much as I do? I had to put all my insecurities aside and just get out there, meet the customers and be unafraid to ask what they thought. Every trade show I left with valuable insight and made changes accordingly. Even after that I still heard plenty of no’s and even more non-responses until, one by one, that started to change. Nodpod today isn’t just what I envisioned long ago, it’s a product that our customers and the market have hammered into its current form, and we think it’s magical.
When I started, I was the only weighted product in the retail space talking about the benefits of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation. Most replied- "wait, weight?" Yes, weight. I recall a conversation with one important buyer telling me that “weighted products were not for their clientele." I remember responding "we can all benefit from Deep Touch Pressure…” But no sale.
Looking back, I was just too early. Or maybe I was right where I needed to be. In the summer of 2017, something happened. The company Gravity with its weighted Gravity Blanket went to KickStarter with a beautiful video that perfectly described Deep Touch Pressure with their weighted blankets. I remember crying tears of joy as finally, I wasn't alone in this incredible message or space. I DM’d them on IG , congratulating them and thanking them for their amazing work. Now, the idea of a weighted sleep mask started to make sense to people. They say timing is everything, and I believe that with all my heart. If for some reason, your amazing idea just isn't taking off, you could be early! Be patient, and in the words of Winston Churchill “Never, never, never give up.”
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
It is a very exciting time for nodpod. Now that there are so many weighted blankets on the market reinforcing the Deep Touch Pressure message, people understand what nodpod “The Weighted Blanket for your Eyes” is all about.
We have been rapidly growing on E-Commerce and you can experience nodpod first hand in a B8TA store near you soon.
We are exhibiting at Foundermade in Santa Monica in October as well as next year's Foundermade in New York.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My advice? Trust your gut! Always. And have fun! It shows through your work when you love what you are creating.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We are currently selling with Shopify and have nothing but wonderful things to say about them- they are very supportive and always “have an app for that” which is very helpful.
We have outsourced so many aspects of our business and have had some failures and some successes. I would suggest signing up with companies and services that are month-to-month. If they are as good as they say they are, then you’ll stay with them, right? So no need for a long contract. I’ve had some 6 months to year contracts that I feel I was more or less taken advantage of. Be careful when starting out. It’s a very vulnerable spot to be in. Do your research and always ask for references.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
If I had to pick one book that helped me the most, I would have to choose From Patent to Profit. My patent attorney recommended it and it really is resourceful book.
I still love watching Shark Tank. If nothing more, it’s a reminder that the struggles are real, and you’re not alone and you may learn a thing or two!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Know who your people are. The ones that will always give you fair, honest feedback and lift you up and encourage you when you need it most. You’re going to doubt yourself plenty, experience rejection and failure time and time again and make personal and financial sacrifices that go along with being called an “entrepreneur” and you know what? It’s worth it. It shapes you into a successful version of your future self. And if in the end you never make it past the “journey” that’s ok. You’ll take all that amazing learning experience and apply it to your next journey and be all the stronger and wiser for it.
To all my fellow entrepreneurs out there I say “Cheers and enjoy the road ahead!”
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings