IdeaPaint co-founder Jeff Avallon insisted his product has a real “wow factor” and that was supported by our experts, who felt the coating that turns any surface into a dry-erase whiteboard had great consumer upside.
The original concept for IdeaPaint was hatched nearly a decade ago by Avallon’s Babson College classmate John Goscha, who grew frustrated with the limitations of writing on large sheets of paper taped to walls in his dormitory (see original story here). Five years later, after a lengthy testing period and more than a few flops, a sellable product emerged and IdeaPaint was launched in 2008.
“It didn’t take us five years to develop a working product; it took us five years to develop a safe product,” said Avallon, who came onboard with co-founder Morgen Newman in 2006, shortly after Goscha – who has since left the company – had been told by a paint test lab his concept was impossible.
“We weren’t the only people to think of this idea, we were just the only people to commercialize it and make it marketable,” confessed Avallon, who added it had to compare with the “gold standard” of dry-erase surfaces, which is the porcelain-on-steel- whiteboards that are prevalent in most universities. “There are lots of complaints about whiteboards out there and we wanted to fix all those.”
Avallon said the Boston-area startup initially received four rounds of angel financing of roughly $1 million that came primarily from family, friends, professors and classmates.