Making Something From Nothing: Cheryl Poldrugach Of Panic Aide On How To Go From Idea To Launch

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Keep in mind that many people are out for themselves, and they will take advantage of your fear and ignorance the first chance they can. I trusted a few along the way from an attorney who tried to change my LLC into his name to a manufacturer who wanted to water down my product.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl Poldrugach.

Cheryl Poldrugach is a former broadcaster and marketer who has more than twenty-five year’s experience. Directing local, regional and national media relations, event planning, marketing, branding, community relations and corporate sponsorships for top tier clients across the country. Cheryl has represented everyone from Fortune 500 companies to many major reality TV stars and Country Music Artists.

With all her outward success, Cheryl had a dark secret, she had suffered from panic attacks since college Cheryl had managed to always hide how she was suffering from panic attacks. Fast forward 30 years and not only was she still battling panic attacks so was her son. Recently she discovered that her daughter started having panic attacks in middle school. School counselors confirmed that panic attacks are a daily occurrence for many children that age and Cheryl felt called to action. She walked away from her lucrative business, seeking the best and brightest scientist, doctors and formulators in their fields to develop a natural product to give some portable relief when anxiety and panic are on attack. The result is Panic Aide. Every bottle sold will benefit mental health charities with 10% dedicated to helping fellow sufferers.

Cheryl is a native New Yorker but after 30 years in the Dallas area she is now a true Texan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Journalism from Evangel University in Missouri. Cheryl is married with four children.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

Thank you so much for the opportunity, I am so happy to be a part of this interview. I grew up in NYC in a Sicilian household with 2 older brothers and a big family with food and fellowship at the core. When I was 12 my mom, stepdad and brothers moved to Texas. It was a big change but adapted and made our life down south.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Going on one more round, when you don’t think you can that’s what makes all the difference in your life. — Sylvester Stallone

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

I have 2 quotes, one to remind me to keep fighting one more round, and one to remind me that failure is not fatal. Life can kick you down, others can kick you down as well, but getting back up and fighting another day is who I am.

With panic disorder I have had to pick myself off the bathroom floor in the fetal position to get back to work and sometimes that is easier said than done. But when you focus on the positive and the fact that you CAN do it has been a fire I keep lit inside.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

To keep with my get up when you have been knocked down theme, it would be Rocky. No matter what came his way, he got back up. He kept his eye on his why — winning the belt and becoming the best and that is what I do every single day. I get back up.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

Idea vs. Reality has many steps but the most important one is following through. You must find out all the pieces you need to get from idea to product (or business). The old fashioned 4 W’s and I H: Who, What, Where, Why and How.

Answer those and then get over the fear of not thinking you are able to do it, that you aren’t ‘enough.’

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

Start with the domain name always. Does someone own it? Then check trademarks, they are easy to search online.

Once you do those two it is a matter of Google research and look through the top 25 pages to make sure you looked everywhere.

For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

Once you have this great idea and you are ready to get started here are a few steps along the way to follow.

  1. Buy your domain name, and always the .com unless you are a non profit
  2. Reserve you social media pages before the names are gone
  3. Trademark your name before someone else does
  4. If it is something you can patent start that as well.
  5. Research ingredients you will need and find suppliers. Call all of them and get costs, shipping costs, minimum orders, and lead time. Get samples from them and try your product with each to find the one you will use.
  6. Find a manufacturer that you can trust and work with. This is a tricky step so please interview 3 and ask for references at each. Also, do background research on the owners as well, there can be some shady people and you have to be careful. In case I hadn’t mentioned sign NDA’s with EVERYONE you speak with.
  7. Get product testing done from a third party
  8. Graphic work commences with logos, signage and labels
  9. Get testers more than just your family — you need all ages and at least a 50 so you can get a good test of how everyone likes it
  10. E-Commerce website up, make sure you have shipping station for orders and a payment gateway and then sell, sell, sell!!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t listen to that little voice in your head.
  2. I suffer from panic disorder so mine is much louder than most, but we all let that little voice tell us we can’t, and I have to remind mine every day that yes I can.
  3. I had a group of friends and only 1 out of the group believed in what I was doing and was positive and supportive when most critiqued and nagged. That made me doubt myself, so that is why it is so important to keep positive supportive friends in your circle.
  4. I was down and out a year and a half in. I was lied to from folks I trusted, and to be honest was not sure I can get back up as this wasn’t the first time. That is the time — when you are knocked out and the ref is up to 8 for a knockout — you get back up and fight harder than ever before.
  5. Keep in mind that many people are out for themselves, and they will take advantage of your fear and ignorance the first chance they can. I trusted a few along the way from an attorney who tried to change my LLC into his name to a manufacturer who wanted to water down my product.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Find a name, buy the domain immediately after you make sure nobody else has done it that is.

Start your research!

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

It is up to the individual. If you feel like you can’t do it, or it’s too much then find a well-respected and trusted consultant.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Great question. If you get venture capital just remember you have others in your business, they have a say and you will owe them money one way or another.

Bootstrapping is the hard way for sure! It takes a lot longer, and you can’t go as fast but you will know that you did it against all odds.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My goal still is to talk about mental health and break the stigma, for real. To make others see me and know that I know what it is like to be down for the count and get back up.

10% of our proceeds go to mental health charities like NAMI and Suicide Crisis and Prevention as well but our dream is to start a nonprofit with one goal: have all mental health services and medication FREE for anyone who needs it.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Stop judging others. Like I always say look at Robin Williams, a happy amazingly talented man who put up a great front and was dying inside. We don’t know how others are feeling or fighting for their lives. Simply be nice.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Since Rocky aka Sylvester Stallone has my favorite quote and his movie is my kick in the butt get up and get going he is one. But as far as a woman in business I admire immensely is Lori Greiner. She is amazing how she can scale up and blast things up and everywhere with a click!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market