The Accidental Entrepreneur
We’ve all heard of having an ‘Ah ha moment.’ TileSizer President and CEO, Laura Saitta had a life changing ‘MacGyver moment.’ She never realized how fascinated people were with inventors until she became one herself. Saitta was addicted to the TV Show “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and interested in pursuing her own ‘Big Idea.’ Her ‘MacGyver moment’ happened during a DIY kitchen remodel at her Roswell, Georgia. home. She had problems fitting the back splash tiles around a window sill and made a makeshift device to help cut the tile into tiny mosaic pieces. She was not skilled as a tile setter, she was just trying to get her house ready to sell.
“TileSizer was really created with the idea that there had to be a better way. I took an old 3 ½ inch floppy disk that was lying around the house and cut an opening in it to allow the tile to slide into. I then took clamps that you might find at an office supply store and used those to help secure the tile in place.”
It’s hard to believe Saitta knew nothing about tile, nothing about patents or CAD designs or product molds or manufacturing. When she pitched her product under the name LSaitta there was a lot of interest but many times a meeting was cancelled when she signed her name ‘Laura.’
“Was it because I’m a woman? I will never know for sure but when I would follow up with ‘Laura’ all you could hear were crickets. A few responded with ‘the project is too big or too small or it’s not a good fit.’ This was at an economic bottom end of 2007-08 and every manufacturing plant I visited was dead. I had 20 years of experience in corporate America in various functional areas like systems development, finance, marketing, billing, collections, and contract negotiations. I suspect I was more prepared than most to tackle this,” says the former Verizon executive.
Using nearly $10,000 of her own savings Saitta eventually signed a contract in California where TileSizer Inc. was born. Her advice to others interested in doing something like this, “Make sure you have at least 5 years of savings in a bank account. The bigger the players you hope to play with, the longer it will take because they want to make sure you aren’t going out of business tomorrow.”
Today TileSizer remains based in Roswell. It can be purchased directly at www.tilesizer.com, The Home Depot, and next month at Lowe’s.
Her next endeavor? She’s writing a book about her business journey. “Creating a business takes time. That’s why I’m writing a book; so that others won’t make the same mistakes I made. Every person I dealt with had a game and most of the people I deal with today have a game too. This is not something for the faint of heart. You just have to keep at it and keep at it. If you are the type to quit or give up, then it’s not for you.”
Her message for women entrepreneurs is this: “Don’t be afraid to follow your dream, but no matter how prepared you think you are, you have to be flexible, resourceful and adaptable.”
Photo by Zurainy Zain | Shutterstock
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