Hire quality people: You must have quality people on your team that are self motivated and share your company’s goal. When they join the company, they need to have a clear direction and know where they are going.
Keep close track of your sales, payroll, government taxes, etc. If not, you could be subject to a time-intensive and costly review process.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Weaver, CEO and President of Aphex BioCleanse Systems.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I hold over 40 years of experience in engineering and design and was responsible for the creation of much of Aphex’s proprietary formulas. Previously, I spent over two decades as an optical engineer for Eastman Kodak, where I earned a name for myself by streamlining the company’s technology and operations, training its team around the world and innovating for the photography industry. Following my role with Eastman Kodak, I went on to found my own digital camera company, where I led the company to sell over 100 million dollars within the first year through my innovations. I also helped Motorola launch the first-ever camera phone. At Aphex, I bring my innovative mindset, passion for disrupting the status quo and entrepreneurial spirit to the team.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
One of the most difficult obstacles I had to help my company overcome when we first started our journey was receiving agency approvals from the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With so many sanitization products on the market, we knew we would need even more than our first-of-its-kind water-based cleaning technology to make a splash. Becoming the FDA’s first approved hand sanitizer would help elevate our product to the level it deserves while gaining consumer trust. However, what many people don’t know is that federal approval processes can be incredibly pricey. In order to achieve this goal, we needed to first raise the capital to get us there. Today, we are proud to say that we were able to raise that capital and more, have gained EPA approval and are in the FDA approval process.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
It’s a funny story, actually. Hy-IQ®️ Water, our proprietary water-based cleaning solution that serves as the base of our products, was actually discovered by mistake. We were testing out formulations and, for some reason, the formulation we meant to create kept boiling. So, we rearranged our formula a bit and accidentally made an industry-changing discovery with Hy-IQ®️ Water. This experience has taught my team and myself to never stop experimenting.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our water-based hand sanitizer is the only one in the world that holds the ability to manage the hydrogen ion in a stable environment and is able to kill any and all pathogens that exist. Because we were able to find a way to get through the exoskeleton of bugs and agricultural pests, this includes agricultural pests, bees, ants and the notoriously hard to kill cockroaches.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I highly recommend looking at your final end goal and spending time every day to make sure you are moving in the direction of that goal with each small step you put into place. Continue researching the things that interest you the most so that you can innovate past your obstacles and make sure you are taking the proper steps to achieve your goal. Knowing that you are moving in the right direction helps to prevent burnout.
For example, bringing the world a safer and more environmentally-friendly sanitization product line is our goal. To get there, we created our proprietary Hy-IQ®️ Water solution and have continued to adjust our formulas to bring new products to market. With each new product we research and create, we get a little closer to reaching our goal.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Most notably, I would like to thank my partner David Olund. During his 40-year career in finance, he has consulted for multinational corporations, created financial products and helped take them to market and spent over a decade guiding OTC-traded pharmaceutical companies. We are grateful to have him leading the Aphex team’s financial strategy. He has brought us to an entirely new level through his ability to demonstrate Aphex’s differentiators to the market and bring in the capital needed to push us forward. Without him, I can say that we would not be where we are today.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
To start, a good company has a team with direction and a solid product or service that they want to bring to market. However, a great team shares a common goal, understands what it will take to achieve that goal, is willing to put in the hard work to get there together and is passionate about the need for their product or service in the world.
In our first year, we created our Hy-IQ®️ Water, which is the base of what sets our products apart from others on the market. What took us from good to great after creating this solution was our ability to work together in discovering the different ways we can bring our product to market to solve problems in countless industries. Additionally, expanding our marketing, sales, production, legal, etc. teams has allowed us to scale with little delay as we see an increase in demand.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Intellectual property: You need to have technology that distinguishes you from your competitors and need to make sure that technology is patented. Probing the USPTO website can help you see what is already out there and what technology is most likely to be granted a patent.
2. Determine whether your product is better patented or as a trade secret. You don’t have to patent everything and with the amount of information you must publicly disclose to receive a patent, some things are better as an unpatented trade secret.
3. Spend quality time on the things that will make you successful. To do this, focus on your target and figure out the steps you need to take to get there as quickly as possible. Hire salespeople and spend a decent amount of time training them if your goal is to increase sales.
4. Keep close track of your sales, payroll, government taxes, etc. If not, you could be subject to a time-intensive and costly review process.
5. Hire quality people: You must have quality people on your team that are self-motivated and share your company’s goal. When they join the company, they need to have a clear direction and know where they are going.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
I agree that businesses with a purpose are more driven to accomplish their goals. At Aphex, our goal is to modify the current landscape of sanitization by replacing the current chemical-based options with our safe and environmentally-friendly water-based solution. We also aim to help eradicate germs in the world and help our population prepare for the next pandemic.
Having a social impact angle helps drive us forward and recruit others with similar passions and goals.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
It’s very likely that going through years of successful growth has probably made you a bit relaxed as things continue to grow on their own. This happened to me in the past when I saw extreme success in my first year selling digital cameras. However, what ended up happening is that I stopped pushing myself to innovate and grow. When your company stalls, it is time to take a step back and “restart the engines” by finding companies that you can work with to provide consumers with a mutually-beneficial product or service. For example, we can see this in many beer companies offering new hard seltzer products to consumers to meet shifting demand.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
I am lucky to say that as a sanitization company, Aphex has actually seen tremendous growth during this historically turbulent period. We have expanded our factory, increased production and automation and streamlined many processes. What I can say is this: always be prepared for the opportunities that may come your way. If we weren’t prepared, we would not have been able to scale our operations so quickly to meet market demand during this pandemic.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Typically, when you look at your “why” and get really excited about what your company will or does have to offer the world, entrepreneurs forget about all of the “boring” but essential parts of the operation. Keeping track of when sales have led to conversions, invoices, manufacturing, and other key parts of the business can be more difficult and time-consuming than many anticipate. To help with this, we integrated an ERP software that gives us a daily update on all of these business-related tasks to help us stay on track and streamline our processes.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Increasing conversion really comes down to finding out what your customers’ needs are and being able to anticipate those needs before they are even stated. This allows you to be prepared, show an excellent level of customer service, build trust and showcase how your products can solve their issues.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with this in order to stand out. One way I demonstrate the effectiveness of our products is through a luminosity scale, which shows how many germs are on a surface. We measure the level of germs on a surface before and after our product is used and give the customer visual evidence that our products really do work.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
First, deliver on your promises. Do not make promises you cannot fulfill as this will backfire and result in a lack of trust in your brand. Second, create a recognizable product. You know your product’s differentiators better than anyone. Use this knowledge to your advantage and make sure it is part of your packaging and messaging so that customers know why they should choose your product. For us, our Hy-IQ®️ Water product is our largest distinguisher. We have made it a large part of our branding and packaging so that consumers associate our brand with our proprietary Hy-IQ®️ Water solution.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
In order to create a Wow! Customer Experience, you must anticipate what the consumer’s largest issue may be and how your product can not only solve it — but solve it in a way that pushes past their expectations. For example, our DermAphex foaming hand sanitizer was created to solve the consumers’ need for an on-the-go hand sanitizer that is alcohol-free. But what really tends to “wow” our customers is that it is water-based, has no smell, hydrates your hands rather than drying them out and is free of chemicals.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Personally, I am not a social media person. However, as a brand, creating an online social media presence is now a key component of success. It is important to have a social media team who understands your brand, your products, your messaging and your mission. Once you have a trusted team, social media can really help build your reputation and consumer awareness of your brand. The benefits of social media for a brand far outweigh the risks.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
If you are joining the company or looking to bring someone on to the founding team, make sure you fully trust that person. Check their background and fully assess what they are hoping to gain from joining your company. This will help you find good people and business partners rather than those who may be out for only financial gain.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could start any movement, it would be a safe and environmentally-friendly global sanitization movement where water-based, chemical-free products, like Aphex’s are, used in daily life. From fruits and vegetables to hands, floors, etc., environmentally-friendly sanitization products are the future because they are safe and provide one solution for all of your needs rather than five or six. Additionally, our water-based sanitization products could be of great use in countries with low levels of sanitization because they are chemical-free and cost-effective.
How can our readers further follow you online?
You can keep with our latest updates by following Aphex’s social media accounts:
LinkedIn: Aphex BioCleanse Systems
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!