Boston is becoming famous for being a hub of U.S. shoe industry, with brands like Converse, Reebook and New Balance establishing their corporate headquarters in the city. So it may not be a coincidence that Boston is also home to a series of shoe startups, including Forsake and, as we reported about, Detrapel.
The latest addition to the bunch is Zorpads, a Harvard Business School-born venture that wants to solve a tiny, still deeply annoying, problem: shoe odor. The company manufactures and sells a shoe insert that promises to free your sneakers from that unpleasant whiff they spread after a long gym session.
While now headquartered in Manhattan, the company moved its first steps in Boston, when co-founders Sierra Smith and Taylor Wiegele started working on it as part of a school project and established their first office in the Harvard i-lab. Also, Zorpads received $25,000 from Rough Draft Ventures to complete its first manufacturing run, which it did a few weeks ago. Now, the company is on the market and it’s currently selling its product online for $5 per pair.
Zorpads look like a black small square and can be used on any kind of shoes, Smith said, from flats to heels. It lasts around 60 times you wear your shoes, she added.
As a chemical engineer, Wiegele said he came into contact with many interesting materials that are only used in industrial applications. Specifically, the core of Zorpads – manufactured in New Jersey – is made by a powerful odor-absorbing carbon layer, which absorbs odor instead of masking it. “Each pad has more odor absorbing surface area than a full-size tennis court, which is amazing,” Wiegele said.
“The large goal, I would just say, is completely changing the entire odor-elimination category,” Smith said. “We’re starting in shoes, but we actually think this technology can be applied to… refrigerators, litter boxes. I think we would definitely be looking to extend into other product categories.”