Born in the bathroom, GoodWipes emerges to make us cleaner

To the long list of good ideas born on the crapper, let’s add this one.

This keep-your-bum-feeling-good story began in the bathroom of the Sigma Chi fraternity house at Florida State University, where frat brothers Sam Nebel and Charlie Siciak were answering nature’s call.

They noticed that each of them used baby wipes, not toilet paper, for the paperwork. They were each excited to find out that someone else did.

“We went on this mission to get all the guys to use the wipes,” Nebel said. “Within two weeks we had 40 guys using them. … The fraternity house stopped ordering toilet paper … We knew we had something there.”

Enter GoodWipes, eco-friendly, moist wipes initially created as a replacement for toilet paper, but now marketed in different iterations for travelers and athletes who want a quick, refreshing wipedown.

Why not just use baby wipes?

Because no one really likes smelling like baby powder, Nebel said. Also, there’s a certain social shame in buying a product made for babies -- when you don’t have a baby.

Is Anyone Buying Them?

About 100 packages per day are sold on Amazon.com, where the company makes most of its sales, Nebel said. He declined to say how much in sales the company has made since its creation three years ago.

At Amazon.com, GoodWipes deodorizing body wipes for gals, with Vitamin E and Aloe, retail for $9.99 for a 10-count package. The product for men is similarly priced, but packaged in gray instead of pink and white.

Are There Any Investors?

For the first few years, the owners used their own savings to bootstrap the company -- Nebel declined to say how much that amounted to.

In June, the company became part of the newest class of entrepreneurs at The Brandery, an Over-the-Rhine based nonprofit business accelerator that gives companies access to mentors from local branding experts such as Procter & Gamble. Each business in the class also gets a $50,000 investment from The Brandery.

The Brandery chose GoodWipes because of its team of incredible hustlers and hard workers, program manager Justin Rumao said. Also for the potential of the product, which meets the need for people with busy lifestyles to keep clean.

“There’s no better place where a consumer package goods company can thrive and succeed than Cincinnati,” Rumao said.

What’s Next?

Consolidating some of the company’s products and tweaking the packaging. A question often asked is, “How do people know what they’re going to use it for?” Nebel said.

Also, the team of Nebel, Siciak and Maria Guilbault plan to work on getting the product into more retail stores. They are in talks with a large airport concessionaire, with the goal of selling GoodWipes at every U.S. airport by 2017.

They’ve recently launched test programs with sales at Bed Bath & Beyond stores and with Academy Sports + Outdoors stores, Nebel said. Sales at stores that cater to travelers, such as Flying J Travel Centers, seem a likely match as well, he said.

“Our goal is to get placement in Kroger,” Nebel added.

What’s Running Your Own Company Like?

It teaches you to be adaptable and to make quick decisions, Nebel said:

“Every day, there are things that don’t go the way you plan them out. … You have to manage land mines and stuff on the go … make many decisions and make them fast.”

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