By Joann Mackenzie Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Cindy Beauregard of Manchester is a current finalist on the NBC "Today" show's "The Next Big Thing" contest. This mother/wife/grandmother is an amazing ambassador and inspiration for women entrepreneurship. Her invention "Scrub on The Run" was inspired by the dirty towel she was carrying around in a ziplock baggie after her daily workouts.
Gloucester Daily Times, Mass. Cindy Beauregard has never seen Jennifer Lawrence's Academy Award-nominated performance as Joy Mangano, the enterprising mother who invented the Miracle Mop. She doesn't have to. She's living the role. Not entirely of course.
Unlike Joy Mangano, Beauregard does not have a wildly dysfunctional family. In fact, it's safe to say the word dysfunction doesn't figure in the vocabulary of this happily married Manchester mother, grandmother and current finalist of the NBC "Today" show's "The Next Big Thing" contest.
Determination, yes. Organization, yes. But dysfunction? Not this mother of invention.
That, by the way -- Mothers of Invention -- is what the producers at NBC named this spring's competition, timed to theme with Mother's Day.
A joint collaboration with the QVC shopping channel, "The Next Big Thing" is in its second year, and Beauregard, whose invention, called Scrub on The Run, landed her among the nine winning "mompreneurs" introduced by Matt Lauer on the show's April 20th "Moms On The Go" segment, is still a little dazed from her television star turn.
"It had always been in my bucket list to one day just even be among the crowd standing out there in Rockefeller Center, looking in the window and waving at the 'Today' show," she says, "and then there I was, inside the window, with the crowd looking in and waving at me."
She was, she says, too nervous to be starstruck.
"'Mom,' my daughter says to me, 'there goes Doctor Oz.' And I say, 'who's Doctor Oz?' And she says, 'Mom, there goes (host) Hoda (Kotb),' and I say, 'who's Hoda?'"
Celebrities, she says, were everywhere. Glimpsed in the mirror of hair and make-up. Spotted streaming by the Green Room. Which by the way, she adds, "is orange."
Among the crowd out there waving and cheering her on was Beauregard's family -- her husband Ed, their four kids and son-in-law -- also known on their website as Family Innovators B&F, LLC. -- "a company dedicated to the invention, production and distribution of innovative new products with a focus on quality and affordability." Best part of the story Family Innovators B&F, LLC was incorporated in June 2014, shortly after Beauregard came up with the "Next Big Thing" idea that caught the attention of NBC producers and that millions of viewers now know as Scrub on The Run. The company, says Beauregard, is the best part of her story, even if she didn't get to tell it in her fast-paced pitch on the "Today" show.
"The story of how my husband and all of my children have worked so hard with me developing our product is the sweetest part of all of this," she says.
The hard work began some 3 1/2 years ago, after Beauregard, who religiously starts each day with a workout at the local gym, had an "I've had it!" moment.
What she'd had it with was the sponge she toted along with her for her daily post-workout shower. "Every day I'd zip it, soaking and soggy, into a plastic baggie, and every day I'd say there's got to be a better way."
Often, the only thing a new entrepreneur has to "bring to the table" is exactly this conviction.
Certainly that was the case with Cindy Beauregard.
As a nurse who manages the Cardiovascular Suite at Beverly Hospital, Beauregard saw that baggie as a germ trap, and brought that conviction to the dining room table of her Manchester home, where, armed with coffee and doughnuts, she gathered the family and nailed her pitch.
"Actually," she says, "I'd had the idea, or something like it, for years. But now I was ready."
What made her ready was "Shark Tank," the slick ABC investor reality show that's part "Apprentice," part "American Idol," and part "Project Runway." It's Beauregard's favorite show, and when one episode featured a fellow named Hopper, who, using two paper clips and a magnet, invented ReadREST, an eyeglass anchor that raked in more than $1 million in sales in six months. Beauregard said to her family, "If he did it, we can do it."
Three years, eight prototypes, countless brain-storming sessions, and several learning curves later in the ways and means of entrepreneurial enterprise, the product -- independently family financed -- was in production with a patent pending, and Cindy was nailing her pitch on the "Today" show.
Making the pitch "Why compromise your clean when you can drain, store and carry your sponge in Scrub on the Run?" Beauregard asked millions of American viewers, demonstrating how, with a twist of the lid, the colorful, compact plastic portable container wicks out the wet, leaving a dry, hygienically clean sponge.
When one of three judges asked, "Who would you identify as your target customer," Beauregard told him, "anyone who's busy or travels."
Actually, Scrub on the Run is one of those products that has multiple market potential.
Fitness centers, with an estimated national membership of more than 54 million hygienically concerned consumers, for one.
College co-ops, where students living in dorms often share showers, for another. A natural premium promotional item, it's ready made for co-marketing with bath products. And at under a $10 retail price point, it's a great little gift or Christmas stocking stuffer.
A first run of 4,000 to 5,000 units is being manufactured in Leominster, where Scrub on the Run was developed. More are expected when Beauregard, as the next big step in "The Next Best Thing," takes Scrub on the Run to QVC, the shopping network powerhouse that back in the 1990s launched Joy Mangano's Miracle Mop into stratospheric sales.
Like Cindy Beauregard's sponge, Joy Mangano's mop was self-draining, and like Cindy Beauregard, she pitched it herself, famously selling 18,000 mops in half an hour.
In the Academy Award-nominated movie named for her, Jennifer Lawrence as Joy tells her daughter, "We got here from hard work, patience, humility."
She sounds a lot like Cindy Beauregard.
"As a mom," says Beauregard, "it's just so sweet to show my kids that this is what hard work can get you." Spoken like true Mothers of Invention.