Small Business Spotlight: Mezzimatic, LLC
What does your business specialize in and who are your clients?
Mezzimatic’s flagship product is Goblies – paintballs that you throw by hand. They’re painless, like a water balloon, but make a colorful splash like a paintball. They’re 100 percent biodegradable, so you don’t have to pick up pieces like with water balloons.
Goblies started in 2015 as a do-it-yourself kit. Children can make them at home while learning about chemistry in the process. The kit includes 12 stackable molds; ingredients to make 108 Goblies; and red, yellow, and blue mixable dyes. Children can mix and create whatever colors they want and create the Goblies by sticking special ice cubes in a syrup solution. The ice and syrup react to create the membrane that encases the colorful powder.
Now, I am working on launching a premade version of the product, so you just open a container and can play with them immediately.
My end customers are generally children ages eight to 12. Goblies are available in 31 toy stores in nine states (five are in Pennsylvania: Busy Bee Toys in Doylestown, Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, Spectrum Scientifics in Philadelphia, jaZams in Lahaska, and The Bucks County Children’s Museum in New Hope). I plan to sell the pre-made Goblies to camps, events, and retailers.
What does your company do differently that sets it apart?
We’re the first to come out with a throwable paintball. The STEM trend (science, technology, engineering and math) in toys is really big, and we were able to make Goblies so it’s not just like building a volcano, just for the sake of science — but showing how you can create something really cool with science and chemistry. I think that’s why we’ve seen a lot of success with the kit.
What inspired you to create this unique product?
Goblies were inspired by a homework assignment in my Technical Entrepreneurship master’s program at Lehigh University. A lot of assignments are open-ended. This one was to create something using a manufacturing technique. I selected the technique that is used to make balloons — dip molding — and long story short, I went on a creative path. I was trying to replicate an egg out of soap, and in the process of doing that and making a “yolk,” I thought, “Hmm, maybe I could make this into a paintball.” At first, the paintball wouldn’t break. It took 26 prototypes to get something to work.
Why are you proud to be a Pennsylvania small business?
I’ve been in Pennsylvania since I started college in 2010. I did my undergrad at Lehigh University as well, so I’ve spent my whole adult life in PA. I’m proud to live and work in the South Bethlehem area and to own a Pennsylvania small business. I’ve seen other businesses grow and thrive here, thanks to resources like Ben Franklin Technology Partners funding, Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) Technology Transfer Grants, affordable work space, and a skilled manufacturing workforce. I’ve gotten to learn from other companies through presentations at Lehigh University and to see them succeed — everybody from workers on the manufacturing floor to website programmers.
What resources/advantages does Pennsylvania offer to your growing business?
I received the Southside Bethlehem KIZ Technology Transfer Grant for $15,000 in January 2016. I put it toward equipment for pre-made Goblies in Bethlehem. The grant was very helpful — and very unique to this area.
Because of the KIZ, and because Pennsylvania is supportive of small business, I utilize a co-working space, SoBe CoWorks. I began at SoBe CoWorks when I started the LLC — the day after my master’s graduation ceremony. I actually drove to Harrisburg to hand in my LLC papers and officially started my business the day after I graduated.
SoBe CoWorks is better than just having to rent out a normal office space — this is way more flexible, and is helpful with cash flow and being able to grow at the rate I need to grow. Those two things — the KIZ and the co-working space — are significant advantages.
Another benefit is that a lot of my suppliers are actually in Pennsylvania. I have to source dye and packaging, and by being in Pennsylvania and having close proximity to manufacturing companies, I am able to go in person and talk to them — it helps tremendously. They can give you advice to save money, and I can pick up an order in person instead of paying to ship it.
How does quality of life affect your business operations?
I think as any small business owner does, all I do all day long is make decisions — how I’m going to spend my time and my resources, or actually deciding am I going to pick this label or that label? It’s really important when you’re making decisions that you are happy, because you’re going to make a better decision. By making sure your quality of life is good, it will help as a business owner.
I know some people who have moved to this area just to take advantage of the resources, and I was really lucky because this is where I prefer to be, anyway. If I didn’t have this community, I would be in a really different situation. I don’t even know if I would have my business if it wasn’t here in the Lehigh Valley.
Briana Gardell is the CEO and Founder of Mezzimatic LLC, in Bethlehem, Pa. Originally from New Jersey, she formulated the idea for her business during her Technical Entrepreneurship master’s program at Lehigh University. The day after her graduation in 2015, Briana drove to Harrisburg and signed the paperwork to start her Pennsylvania small business.