Emily Rudow | oneiric
As told to Jess Baria
Since I was six, I’ve loved the game of hockey.
It was just that the time commitment and effort required to wear more than 13 pieces of equipment were tedious. Lower body injuries due to areas left exposed during the game was even worse!
While I was getting my BBA at Wilfred Laurier University, I came up with a practical idea that would spare hockey players of the trouble. I thought of a smart base layer garment that would deliver the key requirements of this high-impact sport: comfort, protection and mobility.
What’s more, the piece of apparel would be simple enough for the kids to manage on their own, with minimal parent supervision!
Developing the Product Concept
After graduation, I jumped into a full-time career in digital marketing.
In 2011, while I was working in a digital media agency, I spoke about my product idea with a colleague, Kayla Nezon. Kayla shared my enthusiasm in developing a product to revolutionize the game and helping me bring it to market. She eventually became my business partner with whom I established Oneiric in 2016.
One of our initial challenges was to convert the idea on paper to a game-changing product that people would want to buy. The process took us five years, during which time we perfected the prototype with various freelance fashion designers.
Finally, a company in Hamilton made the product to specification.
Finding the money to fund development and marketing was another challenge. A big part of my salary went towards financing the business, but it was not enough.
In 2016, I resigned my job to focus 100% on Oneiric. It was time to approach organizations that extended grants to start-ups!
Ignite Capital Sets Things in Motion
Typically, organizations extend grants only to entrepreneurs who prove that they have the most viable business plan. It’s a highly competitive process! So, it was an exciting time for us as we entered our very first competition with Ignite Capital!
We ran under the Youth Entrepreneur category and bagged first prize! The win got us a grant-loan of $20,000. Moreover, our confidence in the viability in our new venture skyrocketed. We went on to quickly win three other funding competitions, including the one at Dragons’ Den that was filmed in May and aired on November 16, 2016.
Upping the Game
The grants we won propelled Oneiric to the next level. Our annual sales began exceeding the $65,000 mark.
Our business attracted a lot of positive publicity, which made it easier for our products to reach the sports store shelves. To date, our products are found in over 35 stores across Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. We are working to introduce our products to the other provinces also, and the prospects look promising!
We started out designing a base layer for kids playing hockey. Since then, we have expanded our product range to serve adult players as well. And since we are getting more adventurous in building our business, we are looking at designing special gear for other sports as well!