Juggling life with three boys, cycling to and from the grocery store and presenting to a large audience at the Capital Conference, as Founder and CEO of Buderflys, is just something that has become second nature to our neighbor Shea Gerhardt. She is known for her strong ability to turn features and functionality of products into clear insight for the right audience. She has done exactly this with the design of her sleek earbuds. We had the opportunity to sit down with Shea to learn more.
You are a mother of three boys and you also happen to be a bad-ass inventor. Can you tell us about your recent patents?
Buderflys has 4 patents in the works -three are pending and one is in the middle of an Office Action with the US Patent office. Our patents are around an innovative earbud (earphone), that has solved for the fit pain point. Top complaint in the earphone industry is fit/comfort. It either hurts after wearing it for a while, falls out, or doesn’t fit at all. The reason is that the human ear moves when we talk, chew and exercise. It has been street-tested by three-young-boys on trampolines and semi-pro wrestling matches – it doesn’t fall out, fits all ear sizes, and does not cause the ear fatigue that comes with a number of buds on the market. We have also stress-tested in a research lab but that was not as effective.
Usage of headphones, and earbuds is on the rise. Tell us what sets Buderflys apart from the rest.
At Buderflys, we understand the need to talk on the phone and consume content in comfort. And you are right about the market, 2014 is when mass market purchase began with earphones. Prior to that, customers just used the free buds that came with their device. In 2017, bluetooth technology became stable enough to go mass market. Buderflys is entering the market in an ideal time as we are at a tipping point in the industry. We are about to see huge growth (30% year over year growth). Our buds are a high-end, premium sounding earbuds that are made with a proprietary squishy next-gen putty like material that flexes and models with the ear, every time it is worn. Finally, an earbud you can wear for a long period of time and that sounds awesome.
In your opinion, how does Colorado rank in terms of innovation?
Colorado has one of the coolest entrepreneurial communities and why we have such amazing innovation that comes out of Colorado. The investment community is growing as well. The Colorado Office of Economic Development is one of the most supportive governmental programs in the country for startups. Plus, we could not have done this without the support and educational resources of non-profit investment firms like Rocky Venture Club (RVC) – whose mission is to educate, empower and grow the Colorado entrepreneurial community (come on – how cool is that!). Buderflys is so lucky and honored to have access to such an amazing and supportive ecosystem.
What is it like being a female inventor in the tech industry?
I think Colorado is really supportive of Woman CEOs and Inventors. I was in executive roles most of my 18 year career and it was not always that way. The stats for Woman entrepreneurs are crazy still – only 7% of funding goes to women-led companies but of those that are funded, woman led companies are 70% more likely to have a strong exits for venture capitalist. However, I think Colorado is breaking the mold in that regard. For instances, a woman-led company and inventor out of Colorado – Proov Fatality – just won Start Up of the Year at SXSW’19. Also, I have met some amazing women mentors and CEOs. One cool Colorado company we are looking to partner with is Prieto Battery. Prieto’s battery is superior to the current batteries on the market in that it is smaller, more powerful and won’t blow up. Prieto has a woman inventor (PH.D) and is lead by a female CEO. So keep inventing ladies while enjoying that Colorado sunshine!
Do your boys realize how cool you are?
Well, as a mom you always think you are super hip. However, I am pretty sure they don’t think I am that cool. For instance, I am in the middle of raising capital right now. As a result, I am pitching my amazing company like crazy. I get nervous speaking in public, so often times my boys are my pitch audience/coaches. It is the best pitch practice because they heckle me the whole time -i.e. “ arrggaa this is so boring”, “mom do I have to sit through this whole thing” (it is a 2-5 min pitch), “mom why do you move your hands around sooooooo much” (I guess I am a hand talker). It’s a harsh learning environment but it makes me stronger. So any entrepreneurs out there that need a pitch practice that will get you ready for the sharks, let me know. Joking aside, I do see that my boys are not afraid to invent things or create process improvements when they think of them. I think it gives them a sense that you can do anything if you work hard and stick with it – Grit!
What do you love about our city?
The sunshine, the people, and I love how Denver keeps growing and changing. As a small town girl, I love exposing my kids to the city life. And then I love being able to get to the mountains to show them a balance! We have it all here in ole’ D-Town!
When you are not working on all things Buderflys, how do you spend your time?
My boys and I love walking to Denver’s cool neighborhood districts or to downtown while exploring new shops and restaurants. We also love going to all the museums in town. We love campaigning, skiing and spending time in Grand Lake, CO. I love hiking but my family does not. So I call our city walks and our hikes “adventures” or “explorations” and not walks/hikes, so they don’t notice we are getting exercise.
Any advice for working moms out there?
Oh, man, it is hard and a juggling act that never seems to end, no matter how hard I plan/organize. I have never loved anything more than those three little guys. So a lot of times it’s packed with guilt as you always want to do your best work – at home and at work – but that is not always possible. So, yes, I am sometimes that crazy mom who brings three young boys to the grocery store after work – sorry everyone. However, I just read an awesome book called How to Raise an Adult. It was a game changer for me, and made me a lot calmer about how I raise my kids and have a career at the same time. I think it’s good for my boys to see me growing the business, and so I include them as much as I can.
To learn more about Shea and her quest to design the world’s first perfect fitting earbud, visit www.buderflys.com. She is a force and we are so excited to see her soar.