Venture for America grad tackles the embarrassing issue of underarm stains.
You’re set to give a big company-wide presentation at work after preparing tirelessly, practicing your key points, finally feeling comfortable with your pitch. But the meeting isn’t until the end of the day, and it’s a hot one. You’re already sweating through your undershirt, so how will you prevent the dreaded wet underarm, or worse, unsightly yellow pit stain? SweatSeal in Columbus is trying to eliminate the discomfort of underarm perspiration with its unique sweat management technology.
“We consider ourselves a fashion utility company—people buy our clothing for a very targeted reason. They want to be sure they make a good first impression, nail their interview, whatever their reason may be,” said Frederick Adenuga, Founder of SweatSeal. “Having wet underarms can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and it doesn’t look good. It constantly bothered me. That’s why we want to do away with the problem forever.”
Unwanted sweating can happen to anyone anywhere, but especially in a hot and humid environment like Florida, where Adenuga grew up from childhood through college. After personally battling stains daily and ruining countless white undershirts, Adenuga began putting napkins under his arms to stop the scourge of sweat. But getting from that first sweat solution to today, a company with patented sweat absorbing material and sales to more than 60 countries, hinged on a news segment.
“It was an entrepreneurship class where a professor had made us identify one problem we were really passionate about, and I landed on solving my pit stain problem. I was running late to class one day, though, and saw Andrew Yang, the founder of Venture For America on the news, and he was saying, ‘So many recent grads or college students have great ideas, but no pathway to turn them into viable startups,’” recalled Adenuga. “It felt like he was speaking directly to me. After that, I applied to the program and have been on this path ever since.”
Adenuga applied to VFA in 2014 and was matched with a healthcare startup, Kare Intellex. As Director of Operations, the aspiring entrepreneur was able to oversee the company’s growth from concept to company, valuable insight for when he would branch out and start a venture of his own. VFA gives its Fellows the tools they need to jump head first into entrepreneurship, and Adenuga took advantage.
SweatSeal launched a crowdfunding campaign in March 2017 and the product smashed expectations, raising $16,000—205% of their initial goal. Consumers had spoken: there was tremendous interest in tackling the pit stain problem. SweatSeal raised the most among all VFA Fellow-led companies that year, so the team was awarded an additional $15,000 from the VFA Innovation Fund, giving Adenuga and his team the support they needed to focus on their product full time.
Momentum for the sweat-stifling technology continued to mount, and the SweatSeal team raised nearly $60,000 in a second crowdfunding campaign. This level of backing enabled SweatSeal to speed up their production timeline and start filling orders worldwide. Adenuga says they’re encouraged by the number of people buying multiple shirts and then coming back for more.
The company is showing no signs of slowing down, and neither is Adenuga. Placed in Columbus from Florida in 2014, the Ohio transplant has fallen in love with Columbus and is not looking back.
“Columbus is my forever home. I tell people that all the time. I’m looking to buy a house here next year. I’ve been blown away by the people and the community feeling of this state,” said Adenuga. “It was a shock at first, how willing people are to hear your ideas and help you however they can, and you can’t put a price on that kind of support.”