In January I met Deb Chance on line and by chance. The Dining Stones she invented, and was selling somewhere out in ‘the long tail’ had been reviewed at Springwise, a website any early adopter has to love, and was enthusiastic.
So, since I don’t already have enough kitchen gadgets gathering dust, I went to her website. I had a question and fired off an email.
The First reason Deb is my hero – She did not turn my email over to the automata – that class of machines that responds to my Congressman’s email, the phone company’s email etc. Deb answered my email herself.
“Hi Arthur. Sorry for the delay in response. Our product was featured on Springwise and a number of other newspapers picked up the story, so my inbox has been overwhelmingly full. I work full-time for a securities investment firm and run Dining Stones at night and on weekends, so there is a lag time for me…. with the volume lately, I just can't keep up.” How can you not trust this person, her answer, her product!
Another question triggered a second email
Second reason Deb is my hero. She is using the net to make her dreams come true.. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit and have dreamed of having my own business for over 20 years”, she wrote. “ I am a foodie. I make up my own recipes all the time. I used to name them, I even had a funny one called ‘Back Porch Surprise’ which I made one winter when our fridge went out and we set all our food on the back porch to keep cold until we had a replacement.”
Third reason Deb is my hero. Forget the marketing degree. She’s a marketing genius.
“ My father told me when I was a child that his mom would put stones on the wood burning stove and put them in his bed before he climbed in. It helped the bed stay warm. I hate having dinner go cold while I’m talking with my guests. So, we had one piece of flat stone tile in the garage. I cleaned it up, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees (the usual temp needed on most foods). In about 15 minutes I pulled it out and set it on towels, then placed the plate directly on it. I couldn't believe how it worked so slick. I said to Jason, (her husband) ‘we are really onto something here!’ “After months of research, development, patent lawyers, web developers, business mentors, etc., we had a business. I came up with the whole thing, company name, design, vendors, etc. One business design mentor said that most food related products sold better if they were tagged with an Italian or French name. So I named the company Roccia Bollente which means ‘hot rocks’ in Italian.
At this point I’m totally besotted with this woman and her story. She’d earned not only my trust but my enthusiasm. I sent money. My daughter and her husband now have a set of Dining Stones.
So what has Deb managed to do? Invent a product in Batavia Iowa. Find mentors to help her develop a business. Put together an excellent website. Get her product noticed by a trend-spotting website in the Netherlands. Answer email from all over the globe. Establish trust and authenticity among people who will never shake her hand. A dozen years ago she couldn't have managed it.