Starting in 1983 and for about 28 years, I was in private practice as a real estate lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri. During the last few years of that period and then for another 3 years, I was a data center developer based in Phoenix, Arizona where I, my wife of almost 30 years, and 4 kids, moved in 2011. Once I left the data center business in about 2015, I had the time and latitude to re-explore the product development path that I had started to pursue with my first patent in 1989.
THE OLSCHANSKY STORY —
I had been going to a local chiropractor, Curtis Maynard, who has been treating PGA golfers for 30 years and is an avid golfer himself. He tried out the Abacus® and loved it! He used it on some of his patients and his enthusiasm and professional support escalated. The Abacus® is now part of his office regimen.
Curtis kept focusing on how his clients had repeat issues like golfer’s elbow, tendinitis, onset arthritis, and general hand and arm pain. As a practitioner, he felt that golfers could experience great benefit by practicing self-care at home, coupled with any professional services.
With that enthusiasm for the device and my own personal love of golf, he encouraged me to attend the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show to introduce it to this industry.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
There are two: First, I have always wanted to invent, develop and successfully execute one or more products so that I could have the satisfaction of knowing I added value to the world with something unique that did not exist until I came up with it. Second, I want my kids to see that bringing value to the world can be done with the hope that they will be inspired to take intelligent risks and make that happen for themselves.
What was the genesis for The Abacus®?
Once my family and I moved to Phoenix, one of the first things we did was to join a local club and start to play more golf than the weather in St. Louis had ever allowed. But shortly after this, all those years of sitting at a desk caught up with me – I had some pretty major back problems that not only interfered with my golf game, but also caused me to have lots of hand and arm pain. I played around with a basic squeeze ball to help me feel better. But squeeze balls for wrist, arm and elbow care are awkward to use and couldn’t work in all the ways I wanted them to.
As you know there are a lot of self-therapy devices that do a variety of things. Before I knew it, I had invested a lot of money and I had a big basket of gadgets in the corner of the room. I wanted one device that could do many things. So I turned the simple squeeze ball and that desire into what is now the Abacus®.
How long from idea creation to actual product creation?
What separates The Abacus® from others in the category?
First, our ball materials are unique – I actually worked with a manufacturer to develop the materials and manufacturing process to achieve just the right combination of density and softness in ratios that make the Abacus® unique when providing compression and pressure. Our Abacus® balls run from soft to more firm – the user gets to decide what to use.
Second, we provide unparalleled optionality in one portable and easy-to-use device so that the user can array the device to address their particular issue whether it is for fingers, wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, or any combination.
In terms of your marketing efforts — what’s the rough percentage in your efforts via brick and mortar retail outlets, green grass shops and online sales?
We launched as an e-commerce platform with some direct B2B sales, although we are hoping to expand our sales and distribution channels in whatever ways are most expeditious.
Many companies go the endorsement route in order to generate product credibility. What’s your stance on endorsements and if you will be heading in that direction?
Endorsements and testimonials are a critical part of our e-commerce strategy, so we plan to vigorously pursue that marketing strategy as we grow. Today, the concept of sharing followers, likes, and viewers is the foundation of building brand loyalty. The golf industry has excelled at that for years and we definitely want to work with the people who influence this industry.
Plenty of companies tout customer service as a central element in their efforts. Define the term and the approach you take on the subject?
Customers are our lifeblood so we treat them the way we want to be treated when we ourselves are customers for goods and services. We offer a 30 day no-questions-asked return policy. We proactively engage with our customers to ensure that they are happy and to create an experience for them – not just a sale to them. The testimonials on our website speak for themselves.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
That all golfers, of every age, would embrace self-care for their arms, hands, wrists and elbows. With that, the game is even more enjoyable and less likely to be interrupted due to aches and pains.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
“Don’t major in minors – and being able to see the difference makes all the difference.” My version of a quote from Jim Rohn who really got it from Matthew 23:24
Biggest short and long term challenge facing your efforts is what?
Product awareness and controlling costs. We are new to the golf industry so building brand awareness is big for us. But while we are still in a start-up mode, we need to manage expenses. That concept can often be challenging, but we are excited to see what lies ahead.
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