It is often said that "if you snooze, you lose."
Well, these two University of Notre Dame graduates respectfully disagree.
Jay Eichelberger (ND '14) and Liz Eichelberger (ND '13) are taking on entrepreneurship with their sleep aid product, Snoozeenie. The Snoozeenie is a "pillow partition" with a revolutionary design that allows you to create a more personal sleep space to block out light ("or morning breath!") without interfering with your normal sleeping position. It is perfect for those who share a bed or a room and want a little more privacy and a better night's sleep.
"I could have definitely used one while living in the dorms," says Liz, who lived in Lewis Hall during her time at Notre Dame. "I lived with five other girls with different sleep schedules, so it could be difficult to sleep when one of your roommates was up studying."
Liz was pulled into the entrepreneurial world by her then-boyfriend (now husband) Jay who came up with the idea.
"My mom has been building a wall of pillows to block out my dad's snoring for years," explains Jay. "I thought that there had to be a better way."
Since first conceptualizing this "pillow partition" in 2014, Jay and Liz have worked to make Snoozeenie a reality. From product design to manufacturing to marketing, they have built their own little company, Snoozeenie, LLC. They also managed to get engaged at the end of 2015.
"It has been an amazing learning experience and I have definitely drawn on what I learned in my Mendoza business classes," says Jay. "We know that this is a long shot. But we've actually had a lot of fun just jumping in and figuring out how to do this all on our own."
Unfortunately, Snoozeenie's journey has not been easy. In early 2016, Jay learned he would have to battle cancer for a third time after discovering a recurrence in his lymph nodes. Over the next four months, Jay and Liz juggled surgery recovery, chemotherapy infusions, doctor appointments, wedding planning and (of course) Snoozeenie. One moment Liz will never forget is how post-surgery Jay managed to make a Snoozeenie sale in his hospital bed.
"It was a very difficult time. It was hard to focus on anything but working on Snoozeenie, when I could, was actually a nice distraction," says Jay. "I would be sitting in my chemo chair, talking to people on the phone and Liz would sit next to me, working on the website."
By the end of August 2016, Jay had finished chemo and was slowly starting to return to his normal self. CT scans looked good and it was time to return their full focus to Snoozeenie... and a little to wedding planning. Jay and Liz got married on October 22, 2016, making the transition from people who date and work together to people who are married and work together.
With all the working parts finally in motion, they are looking to the future. They are preparing to introduce more colors to the Snoozeenie line, as well as funny novelty cases. Currently, they are doing a push for Valentine's Day and are ready to put all their resources and time into seeing how far Snoozeenie can go.
"We keep discovering new uses for Snoozeenie. People can use it in dorm rooms, when they go on family vacation, share a hotel room... We had a customer who emailed us to say that she uses it to block the air from her husband's CPAP machine from blowing in her face. Some kids use it because they are scared of the dark. The possibilities are endless!" Liz says.
Jay and Liz both say they will be happy no matter the result because starting a business has been an amazing learning experience--although they remain hopeful that Snoozeenie will be successful in the future.
Jay adds: "We hope Irish football will be successful too."
You can check out Snoozeenie at www.snoozeenie.com.