YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — That “Eureka!” moment can come in any shape or form for an entrepreneur.
For AJ Bove and Marcus Gurgiolo, it was a pair of smelly athletic gloves that led to the creation of Odorex Athletix.
As a sophomore at Westminster College in 2017, Bove majored in international business with a minor in Spanish. In one of his classes, the instructor encouraged the students to submit a business plan for 2017 David W. Edward Entrepreneurship Scholarship competition.
The competition challenges students to prepare and present a business plan depicting the creation of a new or improved business, product, service or combination of all three. It’s held by Westminster’s School of Business with funding from the Edward Trust in Youngstown for an academic scholarship prize.
Bove contacted Gurgiolo, who had already graduated from Westminster, and their friend Mike Maravola, and the trio brainstormed some ideas in Gurgiolo’s basement.
“We’d tried to think of something and search it afterward and find out that it was a thing that already existed,” Gurgiolo said. “We went through that process a couple times, which was pretty frustrating.”
Since Bove was the one entering the competition, Gurgiolo said he wanted to come up with something that was relevant to his friend. At the time, the two played on a soccer team and Bove was the goalie. On the way to practice, Gurgiolo got the idea.
“He was a goalie. Goalies’ hands notoriously stink,” Gurgiolo. “And I thought why not put something on underneath?”
He called Bove, who liked the idea.
“From there, we were kind of in an early incubation stage,” Bove said. “We put together a business plan for that competition.”
The business plan won and Bove thought that was that, he said. But during the awards banquet at the end of the semester, he received positive comments from other attendees about the idea’s potential for sales and application into other products.
“That was the first time that anyone was like, ‘Hey, do this.’ And it kind of changed my perspective on it,” he said.
Thus, the Odorex Athletix Glove Enhancers were born. Odorex Athletix co-founders Bove and Gurgiolo are CEO and chief of marketing, respectively. Maravola, a Youngstown State University graduate, is chief of technology, and Eric Gaber, a graduate of Clarion University, is vice president of strategic planning.
Over the next few years – while working their day jobs – the entrepreneurs developed its product and branding, conducted market research, applied for patents and found a silent investor.
“That was another huge step for us,” Bove said. “Finding someone that was able to believe in our product enough that they were going to put their own money up for it, the initial seed investing.”
In 2020, the product officially launched. During a Westminster Entrepreneurship Center event in partnership with Youngstown Score, Bove and Gurgiolo told the story of how Odorex Athletix came to be from concept to development to the present day.
Watch the video above or click HERE to hear their story.