The story of SneakERASERS starts in 2003 in a dorm room in Athens when two Ohio University students met and became friends.
“To this day, Chris (Pavlica) and I thank the ‘rooming Gods’ at Ohio University for putting us two rooms apart on the same floor in Tiffin Hall freshman year,” said Kevin Consolo. “This is how we met, and we ended up living together on the ninth floor of Bromley Hall sophomore year.”
Consolo and Pavlica are the inventors of SneakERASERS, a unique shoe-cleaning sponge that is now being sold in more than 25,000 stores across the country.
“Our products are in Walmart, Costco, Giant Eagle, Fred Meyer, King Soopers and many others,” said Consolo. “Our company (FTI Brands) is now expanding into different markets in 2020.”
The entrepreneurial road to their success started in Atlanta in 2016. Pavlica, a film producer and director, was hoping to sell his services to executives of Coca Cola.
“He was sitting in his hotel, 20 minutes until the pitch meeting, when he grabbed his nice sneakers and realized they got scuffed up in his luggage,” Consolo said about Pavlika. “Chris is a creative type, so he dressed the part with dress jeans and nice sneakers with bright white mid-soles, and now this part of his wardrobe was ruined.”
Pavlica solved the immediate problem with some hand sanitizer but it took a lot of work, Consolo recalled. After the meeting, he said he called Consolo with the idea of making something convenient and effective for removing scuff marks.
“This is when Sole Rubbers (the original name, changed later) was born,” said Consolo. “We looped in a friend from Ohio State (University,) Nick Wax, and the three of us found ourselves in Los Angeles working on the first prototypes.”
Consolo was a marketing major at OU, while Pavlica was in the School of Telecommunications.
“We were both self-driven and like-minded individuals that had an entrepreneurial drive, and we would often talk about businesses and product inventions that we could work on together,” said Consolo. “Often times, we would look up an idea and find out that someone else had already invented it. But we were not deterred.”
Consolo and Pavlica say they’re not satisfied with just one successful product. Two spinoffs are in the works.
Coming soon for FTI Brands are AutoERASERS, an instant auto detailing item, and GolfERASERS, for instant golf-club cleaning.
The former roomies seem to be erasing all doubts about their shrewdness for innovation.