Duquesne University Alum is One of Seven People Nationwide Vying For a Chance to Sell Their Inventions at Walmart
Nathan Failla was running late, and it was raining.
"I wanted to bring hair gel with me but I told my roommate that I didn't want to bring the whole bottle," said Failla, of South Park. "I was really wishing there was some portable, smaller packet of gel to buy."
Failla, 23, did more than just wish. In 2016, he launched a product called PocketGel in his capstone entrepreneurship course at Duquesne University. He didn't stop there. He traveled to Eastern Michigan to meet with a manufacturer to secure a deal to package his portable hair gel.
This month, he will go to Bentonville, Ark. to pitch his product to executives at Walmart, with the hope they will stock it on the shelves of their 4,500 stores nationwide.
In April, he applied to have his product marketed at Walmart, and last month he was called to a store in North Versailles. He thought he was going there to continue pitching PocketGel. Instead, executives told him he was one of seven entrepreneurs nationwide chosen to go to Walmart's headquarters.
"It was quite a surprise. I've worked really hard on this so it's exciting," Failla said.
For this annual open call for submissions, the company only accepts products made and manufactured in the USA, Failla said.
"Nathan is quite an impressive young man with good ideas and some creativity and desire," said Mallet & Company CEO Bob Mallet, the principal donor for Duquesne's new entrepreneurship center. "I have no doubt he will have a successful career with hair gel or without."
Failla, who graduated from Duquesne in 2016 with a double major in entrepreneur and legal studies, is marketing his product in three gram packages, and they will be sold in packs of 20 for $10.99. They are small enough to pass muster with the Transportation Security Administration.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.
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