Allergic to raw fruits and vegetables, Eisenberg relies on an EpiPen to deliver a safe dosage of synthetic adrenaline in case he suffers from an adverse reaction. There’s just one problem. The medical device is inoperable in either freezing cold or scolding hot temperatures – and not good for those living in climates that can yield both extremes.
So Eisenberg did what many successful, creative inventors do by fusing practicality with ingenuity, and developed a stainless steel insulation to protect the EpiPen from such temperatures. By age 22, he had written his own patent for the product and licensed the concept to a company, which helped him pay off most of his college debt accrued from Vanderbilt University.
“When you see a problem, there’s often a business behind that solution,” Eisenberg said.
Eisenberg, who has since founded UrgentRx, was a keynote speaker Tuesday at Georgia Regents University’s two-day inaugural Innovation Summit at the Kroc Center in Augusta.
The free conference, continuing Wednesday, featured entrepreneurs and “thought” leaders who shared strategies, trends and learned lessons to turn good ideas into feasible products. The event focused on marketing innovative ideas and also provided opportunities for audience members to interact with local and national industry experts and top innovators.
Eisenberg’s newest product UrgentRx launched in 2010 and markets FDA-approved single-use, fast-acting nonprescription medications. The powder-form, over-the-counter medicine is flavored to taste like candy.
The medicine, which works about 2.5 times faster than a traditional pill and is small enough to fit in someone’s wallet, is found in drugstores, Office Max, Wal-mart, as well as many hotels and airports across the nation.
Eisenberg, 31, told the crowd of about 150 attendees that UrgentRx saved a Vail, Colo., skier suffering from a heart attack just 48 hours after it came on the market. Ski patrol personnel throughout the state of Colorado were equipped with the critical care antidote and administered it to the skier, who was told by doctors that taking the medicine saved his life. The man later took Eisenberg to lunch and personally thanked him.
“You can have a business that does well financially and also can have a really positive impact on the community, which for me is important,” he said. “If you just do it to make money, don’t be an entrepreneur. It’s too hard. There’s easier ways to make money.”
Eisenberg, who was listed by Forbes to be among the top 25 most innovative consumer and retail brands, expects the product to be featured in 25,000 retailers by the end of the year.
Eisenberg’s other earlier inventions have also garnered attention. His iPhone app idea, PMS Buddy, that notified men of their wives and girlfriends looming menstrual cycles, drew press from shock jock Howard Stern as well as Playboy and Maxim magazines. The concept cost about $700 to implement and was downloaded by a quarter million users for 99 cents each.
Another start-up, Collar Card, was a credit-card sized pop-up collar stay that was carried in high-end men’s clothing stores throughout the country.
Eisenberg attributes success to hard work and clever marketing methods, such as his UrgentRx “pain fairies” who appear at major events, eye-catching slogans and other guerilla advertising techniques.
He urged those in the audience to remain persistent and see their ideas through. Out of 750 investors who were pitched the UrgentRx idea, only 20 ended up signing on board, Eisenberg said.
“A lot of people say no,” he said. “You just have to get comfortable with it. The second best thing to a ‘yes’ is a quick ‘no.’ ‘Maybe’ is the worst answer you can get because you will waste so much time on maybe.”