Team Drop Stop
Top (from left to right): Jeff Whiteman, Scott Gold, Albert Bugoff, David Osokow. Bottom (from left to right): Michael Goldberg, Marc Newburger, Jeffrey Simon, Andrew Levine, Ari Ryan
Howdy. My name is Marc Newburger. I along with Jeffrey Simon, my fellow inventor, and a team of amazing individuals are proud to present the first product ever of its kind. Since the era of the modern automobile, we as drivers have put up with the unbelievable hassle of dropping items down the crack of the car seat. I personally can count hundreds of times and many near accidents. But in the waning months of 2006, I almost met my maker. While driving along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA, I was awaiting a very important phone call. I had placed my phone on the center console to easily reach the call when it came. It rang. The phone vibrated...and fell right down the gap.
While frantically trying in vain to jam my hand down and reach for the phone, I took my eyes off the road, pulled the wheel to the right as I leaned to retrieve the phone, jumped the curb, slammed the brakes, nearly struck a pedestrian, and came within 2 inches of smashing into a metal pole. I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Why doesn't someone come up with a way to block that stupid crack??!!" After collecting myself and being thankful no one was hurt, I paused and thought, 'Yes, why doesn't someone make something? I don't think I've ever seen anything to block that problem in my entire life.'
Still very shaken up, I couldn't stop thinking about what had happened, how amazingly blessed I was, and the possibility of a way to block this dangerous problem once and for all. I called my friend and business partner Jeffrey Simon to let him know what had transpired. While dialing, I dropped the phone down the crack again. Jokingly I thought, 'maybe that was a sign.' Little did we both know, what a sign it truly was. The entire experience has been a journey of faith and miracles, of which we wish to share some special moments with all of you.
From Idea to Manifestation
A week after the near accident, we were sitting around trying to figure out how to get into this big Hollywood Halloween party that we would usually go to, but had lost our connections. As we were scrambling like fools trying to figure out a way in...we had a revelation. We should be having our own Halloween parties, with our own friends. We have a great idea on our hands, it can help a lot of people...why don't we forget this party, go down to the car, and stare at that crack till we figure this out! And that's just what we did!
Jeffrey and I sat in the car and stared into the gap for hours, brainstorming ideas. At first, it was a leather flap that one could lift up and effectively scoop any dropped item back into their lap. But it was sloppy. Then we thought, "beanbags!" That too was cumbersome and didn't allow for easy seat movement. We then realized the importance of the product moving with the seat. Our dear friend Andrew (Andy) Borans, of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, was the first to mention what was to become a key component of the invention. He said, "...ya know what? It would be great if it could move back and forth with the seat." He's a sharp cookie that Andy!
Then we saw it! The seatbelt catch in any car is anchored to the seat! It moves to and fro and always remains in place with the seat. Then it hit us! We had to invent something that could attach itself to the seatbelt catch while not blocking it or hindering movement in any way. So, we knew what it needed to do but not what it would look like.
Following the faith that leads us so well, we journeyed to the Big Lots store and grabbed a shopping cart. Just like in the old days, when our ancestors used divining rods to find water, so did we use the same force to guide our cart. With a gentle push, and no direction in mind, we let the cart lead us to the materials of this unknown product.
Wherever the cart landed, we put the item in. Everything at this store is very low cost so filling the cart with crazy random items didn't hurt us too bad ☺. When we got home, we poured out bags of tablecloths, toys, tools, cups, bed sheets, car sponges, spatulas, and about 20 other crazy items.
We sat on the floor and simply started moving things around to see if the idea would just come to us. Then all of a sudden, as if guided by the Universe, I got up off the floor, went to my closet to grab a pair of black dress socks, cut a car sponge into a shape to fit inside the sock, then cut a slit through the sock and sponge. Jeffrey and I took one look at it, and ran down to the car. It seemed like a dream. We went to the car, slipped the seatbelt catch through the hole, wedged it into the crack, and like magic, it disappeared...blending right into the shadow. And just like that, Drop Stop® was born.
From that simple little prototype we were able to put together a dream team of top professionals in the business, along with our closest friends and loved ones, and bring to you what we hope will make the world a safer place and our days a little easier ☺.
We decided to move forward full steam ahead. I moved in with Jeffrey and have lived on his couch for the last five years building this idea and dream into a reality. We gave up many comforts and all that we had in time, creativity, money, and energy. We spent the next 6 months going through hundreds of different materials and prototypes, bouncing ideas off each other, yelling at each other, and congratulating each other. We then formed a design team to turn our little blob into a market friendly product. Paul Berman, with T2 Design, along with Scott and Laurie Goldberg of Allman Products, and Stephanie Garrison, our seamstress extraordinaire, helped us through the many prototypes until we finally settled on the little beauty Drop Stop® is today.
We were determined to be different - not like typical infomercial products which are cheap and shoddy, and built to fall apart. We wanted to make a product our friends and families (especially our Moms) would be proud of. That the whole world would love and say...YES! Everyone told us to make them cheaper - and not worry if they fall apart - folks would buy more. Well, we decided to use one of the most expensive dark materials around...NEOPRENE, what diver's wet suits are made of. Neoprene was 30 times more expensive than any other lesser material. But no other material would do. Neoprene is durable, stain resistant, stretchy, and sleek...all very important factors for a top quality auto accessory.
We, like all of you, couldn't stand when our credit cards were overcharged, shipping charges were hidden, and customer service was non existent. We strive to do business in a new way, and deliver a quality product, at an extremely fair price, with NO HIDDEN CHARGES! We promise to always take great care of you every time. We hope you all feel the same way.
They say it takes two folks. And indeed, it did. Plus, a team of others!
Raising The Money
Right from the start everyone wanted to be a part of it. Everyone loved the idea, wanted a pair for themselves, and could see the worldwide potential for a product like this. It was from the love and trust of a dear friend, A.N., and her husband S.N., that gave us the original seed money we needed to put the entire team together, develop the product, and get it to a point where we could present Drop Stop® in a way befitting to a once in a lifetime-simple-I can't believe I didn't think of that-product!
The two folks mentioned above are made from another mold. They gave us this unbelievable amount of money and then told us they didn't want it back unless we were a success. When we insisted on signing a note, they ripped it up...and told us to go out and be a success! Our love for these two knows no bounds. And we thank you both so much.
We then went to our closest friends and offered them a share of the profits, whether they helped us out or not. For without them all we could never have been in a position to even start. They all agreed to help...and help they did. Each added their own unique talents, spent countless hours over these last few years, gave their energy, their support, their money, and their love. Without Team Drop Stop®, we can assure you this product would never have seen the light of day.
The Dog, Ludwig Von Barkie
While searching and searching for the perfect materials, one thing continued to elude us...the perfect material for the interior of Drop Stop®. We had tried all kinds of foam which seemed to be the only logical choice...but the materials were toxic, eventually lost their shape, not durable enough, and just seemingly impossible to find the perfect fit. Then one day a miracle happened.
Remember the dog food scare some years ago? When all the dog food was tainted and those poor animals were dying all over the country? Our dear friend and team member Albert Bugoff has a very special doggie named Ludwig Von Barkie who fell victim to the tainted dog food. Fighting for his life, Albert called Jeffrey and me for help. We are Food and Health coaches by trade and had extensive knowledge of raw healing foods and many things Albert felt could save Ludwig's life. So we went to the rescue. Within 3 days of ingesting raw vegetable juices, raw goat's milk, probiotics, and good clean water...he was back to his old self again! Not to mention, all the love and support that beautiful dog has around him with his best friend Albert.
On the third day of working with Ludwig, something amazing happened. He loves to tear apart a toy to get at the squeaky device. Once he has extracted that, he's "over" the toy. While trying to rip into another toy I was throwing for him, he decided instead to rip out the stuffing and place it in my hand. I said, "What are you doin' silly dog?" And put the stuffing back in the toy. I threw it again and Ludwig again pulled out the stuffing and placed it in my hand, gently staring into my eyes. And I said again, "You crazy dog ☺ Whadd'you doin'?" and put the stuffing back in again. On the third throw (and subsequent stuffing retrieval), Ludwig finally reached me. As I squeezed the stuffing in my hand, I looked at Ludwig who had a "Finally dummy!" look on his face. THIS WAS IT! Polyester Fiber Fill! "Ludwig! YOU DID IT!" Folks, I will say to you, a team of ten individuals brainstorming for hours on end could not figure it out. It was the dog who we must give full credit to. I know it seems simple now folks, but at the time, we were just learnin' as we went along. Long Live Ludwig Von Barkie, the Inventor! Thanks poochie ☺
The very first professional we took Drop Stop® to in the business was none other than Richard Contino of Elite Media Direct, a seasoned veteran in the business who has been our #1 go to guy since the dawn of this project. Without him navigating the waters we could never have been in the position we are today. Richard's expertise and knowledge of the marketplace helped us to find all that we needed to complete the project. We were extremely lucky to have met him when we did.
Richard loved and believed in us and the invention from day one. Yet, he was never really in a position to help us directly at first. Instead, he gave his time and his knowledge freely, and was the literal glue and bond of this team. It was not until he had been working with us on the project for a year and a half with no pay, and nothing in return, that we approached him and asked him to head up the team. Lucky us, he obliged. And we haven't looked back since!
We were then led to our wonderful attorneys, John Hendrickson and his amazing team at Manhattan Advertising & Media Law, Sang Dang of Klein, O'Neill, and Singh LLP, Dan Cislo and Dr. Wook Pak of Cislo & Thomas, and Randall Carlyle Fink. These gentlemen, while being the best at what they do, all have hearts of gold and cared beyond any capacity you could imagine attorneys to have...completing our team of angels and performing services for us well beyond what we paid them. And a special thanks to Jeffrey's sister for her advice and support, and Guy Ruttenberg who from day one was the first to educate us about the patenting process and ever since been so gracious with his time to answer any questions we asked. Thanks to all of you!
Team Drop Stop®:
Albert Bugoff, truly the next Mel Brooks of our generation. His creativity and off the walls ideas along with his generous support and love for the product and our team has helped us stay strong throughout the storms and ride this wave to greatness. His efforts were instrumental in seeing this project through.
Scott Gold, our futuristic wiz kid! He got us our computers, set us up for the future, and was there for us at any time day or night when we needed our computer genius! The man knows everything, and led us many times down the right path.
Michael Goldberg, one of our dear friends, backer, support system, whatever we needed - he was always there for us. We can't tell you how magical it is to have a friend like Mikey in your life.
Andrew Levine, our internet genius. Our logo and website designer. Our idea man. Our cool cat. Our absolute Johnny on the spot. We can't even imagine how we could have done this without him. Did we mention we could not have done this without him? Andy has given quite literally thousands of hours to this project, asking for nothing in return. His love for us and Drop Stop® knows no bounds. He is the man behind the curtain...the great implementer. But ya can't have him! He's ours! His ideas and inspirations will blow you away. Seriously, you've got to check out his website.
David Osokow, our marketing and PR amigo. Anyone who is anyone knows who this guy is and his passion for his friends and this product will help bring it to the masses with love. He is a very unique soul and has graced our team with his presence.
Ari Ryan, our trusted and loyal friend, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His business savvy at the helm oversaw each and every contract and his financial support, faith, and trust in us was beyond this world. We could not have done this without him.
Mark and Teresa Stenzel, two of our biggest believers since day one. Well actually way before that. Mark and Teresa took out a second mortgage on their home to help fund our dreams and have never once asked for it back - 5 years later! It is through this project we intend to repay this magnificent gesture...and then some ☺.
Jeff Whiteman, one of the most generous guys you will ever meet. Between running a company and a raising a beautiful and wonderful family, time was always made for us when there was none. And there ain't nothin like having your own personal Printer at your beck and call... only difference it was Color Images® in Burbank, CA. Whatever we needed printed, copied, bound... you name it, Jeff always found time for us.
A big shoutout to our dear friend David Gilbert, a fellow and very successful entrepreneur who built his own company National Funding from a small 10K loan, into the power house small business lender it is today. At a very pivotal point in our company’s history, David entrusted us with a $350,000 loan when no one else in the world would. He asked us only one thing…that when he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning, he doesn’t ever have to say to himself "I’m the dumbest mother f*&ker who ever lived" (which he didn’t as we paid back the loan :-) We are humbled and forever grateful for his generosity.
And a very special thanks to Franc Gonzales, who has kept this project afloat with countless loans, never wanting a thing, and always trusting us to pay it back. His love and support was vital to get us where we are today. He earns the "golden shovel" award for constantly joining us in the trenches. Whenever the unthinkable needed to be done, he was right there with us. Another thanks to Mitchell Goodman, who bailed us out of quite a few binds, with love, trust, and support, and to Richard Kanner, for his love, support, and amazing advice.
Mike Weinstein, who in the 11th hour was our white knight in shining armor. Thank you Mikey!!!
And lastly, the entire Alpha Epsilon Pi organization that almost this entire group is formed from, and whose love, support, and efforts have given life and form to our dream.
Filming a commercial spot was no easy task. When it came to creating our spot, all eyes turned to Jeffrey, whose background as a producer came to the rescue. I truly cannot convey, just how much work and effort went into this. Jeffrey put in 20 hour days, for nearly 3 months. I just sat back in amazement while Jeffrey took the helm and led us to an amazing and pointed spot that speaks to any single person driving an automobile today. Along with Andrew Levine, they worked countless nights writing the script, revision after revision, to get it just right. Albert Bugoff came on board to help, giving us countless hours and love...loaning his incredible talents to help Jeffrey produce. The three of them then directed our vision bringing it to the small screen ☺ Let's not forget who helped make our spot LOOK as great as it did - Graham Futerfas - our superstar Director of Photography. Thanks so much for all your help and belief in us!
After the spot was in the can, it was the entrance of another angel, David Checel, editor extraordinaire, who saved our butts in more ways than we can count. Even with a wife and two young children, and editing a 40 million dollar film, he still found the time he did not have to help us for countless hours editing our spot and making sure each step of the way we were treated like royalty. From the countless favors he pulled off for us, to his tireless dedication while wanting or receiving nothing in return, David is a gift from the universe. There are no words.
Then came the final touches - and that's putting it lightly. Enter Ralf Leeb - our incredibly overqualified graphic artist who loaned his enormous talents to our commercial spot. We thank you for all your amazing work!
And last but not least, a very special thanks to Shana Lahooti and the Lahooti family for so generously donating their beautiful home for our commercial shoot.
I may have had the idea folks but one thing I have learned through this amazing journey is without a team, without that combined focus of energy and ideas, love and support...it would have remained just that, an idea. And then there's Jeffrey, whose tenacity, creativity, organization, and even temperament has brought us through the storms and into the calm. Without him as a friend, mentor, and hero of mine...none of this would have happened.
We both were very lucky to have our parents see this dream come to life. All of our parents, while hesitant at first, saw the work and effort behind the project and quickly stepped in with their money, love, and support. My parents Sid and Barbara, and Jeffrey's parents Anita and Marvin, are our heroes. We could not have done this without you!
We are very lucky kids. But Jeffrey unfortunately lost both of his parents short of seeing the dream fully manifest. Their love, faith, and support of both Jeffrey and me during this project are a miracle of which I've never seen. His mother and father will always be a part of our hearts, our souls, and our little product. In 2 straight weeks of meetings to come up with a name for the product...and over 800 unique ideas...his mom just waltzes in and says, "Guys, it stops things from dropping. How about callin' it Drop Stop®?" And the whole room applauded! So we are very proud to say that Jeffy's mom will forever be an integral part of Drop Stop®.
Now if I may, I need the world to realize something. If I were to write a book on how to bring a product to life...it would consist of one page, with one sentence: "Have a Jeffrey."
The man is the turbine that runs and captains this ship. Master of all things. Dedicated to a fault. Handles every single aspect of a world that would take a book to explain. I could never, and would never, have done this without him.
I may be the idea man and the sales guy, but as Jeffrey says, "An idea is only as good as its execution." The man speaks the truth. What he has done, and continues to do, amazes the heck outta me, I gotta tell ya.
Ladies and gentleman...this is the story of Drop Stop® and the team behind it. We hope you all enjoy...and remember, with love and respect, Don't Drop and Drive®!