January 03, 2007
David Takes On Goliath . . . With Gum?
By David Mitchell
"I was always allowed to do anything within reason as a kid . . . My parents fostered my entrepreneurial personality." Matt Willer is the "David" of modern entrepreneurs. Daring and driven he is going head to head with "Goliath" and doing so with . . . Gum?
Flying below the radar, Willer, and his company, Inhale Solutions, Inc. has been creating success in the confection industry with its line of Zapp and Smoke Screen gums. He notes the lack of success of many others in the field. "No capital combined with a terrible strategy and a lousy product . . . What a winning recipe!" he quipped in a recent interview.
His most endearing quality is a willingness to share "trade secrets" freely. "A brand that succeeds is not something that a consumer buys. It is something the consumer buys twice and tells a friend about."
ZAPP and Smoke Screen are the only brand chewing gums in a $5 billion market that are both sugar free and contain no artificial sweeteners. Willer knows that success comes by targeting underserved niches. "I don't think I have a prayer of taking down the Big Three gum powerhouses. Instead, I plan to 'Eclipse' (pun intended) 1 million online customers," he explains.
When asked what he would offer those with a similar dream, he answers with honesty. "Don't worry about trying to beat the 'big guns;' it is not about drinking from the same bathwater. Just target niches in the market that offer growth and profitability, but may just be too small in size or profitability for the 'big guys' to focus on."
"At a time when so many give up the dream and simply 'settle,' Matthew D. Willer is the new 'David' that does not need to defeat 'Goliath.'" Either way he and millions of satisfied customers "continue to march" with fresh breath and a fresh outlook.