The Emotional Moment That Sparked a Winning Business Idea for This Entrepreneur

Everence co-founder and CEO Patrick Duffy details the growth of his tattoo and jewelry business from idea to final product.


5 min read


One of the most important questions that entrepreneurs need to ask themselves is this: Does my product solve a problem or fill a need for customers?

Patrick Duffy saw a need — an emotional one — when he was working with wounded veterans and the families of fallen heroes. These people had a need to remember their loved ones and hold them close, and during a Scuba expedition, he saw a memorial tattoo on leg of a Gold Star mother and it sparked an idea: What if the ink in those tattoos were infused with the DNA of the person being remembered?

Related: How to Come Up With Startup Business Ideas in the Digital Era

From that moment the concept for Everence was born. Described by Duffy, who serves as the company’s CEO, “Everence is a technology that allows you to safely keep the most unique part of a loved one or experience close to you.”

It might sound a little strange at first, but people from all walks of life have used the service, including firefighters, dog owners and professional athletes. And now, for the more needle-adverse customers, Everence has expanded its line to include DNA-infused jewelry.

We spoke with Duffy and Philip Montalto, CEO of R&D Manufacturing, who creates the jewelry for Everence, about the process of turning an idea into reality, and then iterating on that product to expand your client base.

How to recognize a great business idea

Patrick Duffy: I started a nonprofit foundation with my dad about 12 years ago teaching scuba diving to wounded soldiers down at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda. I saw this tattoo on the leg of a mom we were working with, and I got the idea: What if you could somehow turn a tattoo or a piece of jewelry into an actual vessel to carry someone physically with you?

Getting your idea off the ground

Patrick Duffy: I have no scientific training, so I needed to find the right people to help me do this. I sent out over 250 e-mails and not a single person responded. So I switched up my tactic and I stopped going direct. I started using a law firm that represented biotech and research companies. They connected me with Edith Mathiowitz, Ph.D. at Brown and once she was on board, the scientific community opened up to us.

Getting it right

Patrick Duffy: We put a team of some of the best scientists in the world together from Brown, Duke and Cornell and came up with a safe way to enclose DNA or hair or ash from a loved one or a pet in medical-grade material that can then be mixed with tattoo ink that goes inside in the dermis, or put inside an aerospace material that we use in the case of the jewelry. About 20 of us — friends and tattoo artists — volunteered to get safety testing done down at Duke. We had to get Everance tattoos, have them stay in the body for a certain amount of time and then be excised and analyzed. I was the first person to ever get any of the testing done.

Related: 20 Business Ideas You Can Start With Less Than $10,000

Finding customers

Patrick Duffy: We have used influencers who might not have the widest reach, but they have “deep reach” as subject matter experts. And then for sure, we’ve done paid social and paid search. Facebook and Instagram are great, because you can iterate quickly when you see things working or not working. The customer base was wider than I had thought in the beginning. I’ve spent probably eight hours in different Major League Baseball stadiums with players who have gotten Everence either from blades of grass at their stadium or from their family and kids. I’ve spent time with Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. We’ve done Everence tattoos for people who lost a beloved dog. It really has run the gamut.

Getting help

Patrick Duffy: Chris Riccobono, who started UNTUCKit, really helped me a lot. He was very generous about sharing what he has learned over the years. So that would be my first piece of advice for anyone trying to get smart fast about a business, is to learn from somebody else’s failures and successes and find a mentor who can steer you in the right direction.

Related: 9 Low-Cost Business Ideas for Animal Lovers

Connecting with established experts 

Philip Montalto: Here at R&D Manufacturing, we’re a work contract manufacturer, and we run an incubator program for new brands and development projects in the jewelry and accessories arena. Basically, we are the manufacturer for brands that don’t maintain their own production facilities. Sometimes someone has an idea, and they go out and spend money on artists or designers and come to us with drawings of what would really be a great art piece, but not practical through conventional methods or even unconventional methods to replicate as a line. Patrick and his team came to us with a product and a design in mind, and they had done their homework, so it was a fairly seamless process for going from concept to product.

 

Source

more recommended stories

  • Most U.S. Cannabis Cultivators Choose to Compete on Quality Rather Than Cost (Chart)

    Many wholesale growers are focusing on.

  • How to Build a Community Around Your Brand

    July 19, 2019 2 min read.

  • 5 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Creativity

    These tips could revolutionize your approach.

  • Use This Green Beret Method to Find Out if Someone Is Trustworthy

    Thinking about a new partnership? Check.

  • 9 Airbnb Rental Tax Deductions You Can Take for Your Vacation Properties

    Maximize your short-term rental tax savings.

  • The Unheard Voices of the Cannabis Social Equity Movement

    It’s fallen to the legal cannabis.

  • How to Make Money in the Freight Brokering Business

    One expert’s insights into taking advantage.

  • Jay-Z Gets Into the Pot Game (60-Second Video)

    Your weekly rundown of the biggest.

  • 3 Female Leaders Share Their Secrets for Starting and Growing a Business

    These lessons are a reminder that.

  • 6 Easy Steps to Making Connections That Make Money and Create Happiness

    Transform your career and make money.

  • This Female Founder Fought to Stay in the Game And She Just Raised $3 Million in Funding from Serena Williams, Mark Cuban and Arlan Hamilton

    July 15, 2019 5 min read.

  • Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals

    Attend this free webinar and learn.

  • How Digital Marketing Changed the 2016 Presidential Race and Will Change 2020’s.

    As an entrepreneur, there are certain.

  • NFL’s Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims Talk Cannabis: It’s ‘A God-Given Gift’

    Two battered former players who never.

  • 3 Ways AI Can Help Businesses Improve Customer Relations

    The power of AI can lead.

  • 4 Essentials for Complying With the New Data Privacy Regulations

    Consumers need reassurance and protection from.

  • Why This Entrepreneur Says to Check Your Ego at the Door

    July 13, 2019 1 min read.

  • CNBC’s Tim Seymour Talks About Cannabis M&A, Private Vs. Public Markets

    Cannabis is good investment, unless you.

  • 3 Areas Where Enterprise-Focused Startups Are Poised to Make an Economic Impact

    How do you improve efficiency by.

  • What Really Causes Depression?

    Here’s what every entrepreneur needs to.

  • The Unexpected Philosophy That Led Me to My Biggest Closed Deals Ever

    Forget the conventional sales wisdom; if.

  • How This Founder Overcame Challenges He Never Saw Coming

    This entrepreneur and Yale dropout hoped.

  • How to Make Promising Opportunities Come to You

    Grow your business and personal passion.

  • Sacrifice Your Way to Your Dream Job in Sports

    This former mailroom worker talks about.

  • Jay-Z Gets Into the Pot Game

    The legendary rapper/entrepreneur got 99 problems.

  • Fitness Professional Jay Dang on Why Confidence Is the Key to Success

    You have to earn it. July.

  • WarnerMedia’s HBO Max Launches in 2020, and It’s Bringing ‘Friends’

    The streaming service will come loaded.

  • 6 Quotes on Business and Life From Billionaire and 2-Time Presidential Candidate Ross Perot

    The philanthropist died on Tuesday at.

  • Work-Life Balance Is Essential for Entrepreneurs

    If your life is out of.

  • How This Entrepreneur Built a Million-Dollar Business by Focusing on These 3 Strategies

    July 8, 2019 3 min read.

  • USA! Americans Spent $400M on Cannabis for Fourth of July

    Legal marijuana is not yet as.

  • What If Renting an Apartment Were as Easy as Booking an Airbnb?

    AI startup Block wants to make.