Want to paint your bathroom the same periwinkle blue as your aunt’s sweater, but don’t feel like going through piles of paint swatches to get a match? The Nix Color Sensor can let you scan her actual sweater and see the exact colour right on your smartphone. It blocks out all ambient light and uses a calibrated light source to provide industry-leading accuracy. Matthew Sheridan, the inventor behind Nix, has shared some early drawings from when it was just an idea in his sketchbook. Here’s the story behind how his idea came to life!
Matt’s inspiration for Nix – which he refers to as the ‘real-life colour eyedropper’ – came from his exposure to the industries that need it. He had several friends working in interior design and aesthetics who were lugging around tote bags filled with fan decks to match paint colours, which seemed an unnecessary hassle to Matt, especially in the 21st century.
The tipping point for developing a solution came when he heard about a fellow entrepreneur who was doing work at a local hospital with burn victims; her business was to create custom makeup that perfectly blended with the patients’ natural skin tones.
“She was actually looking for a solution to replace her costly manual colour matching routine, and wanted to amp up her business model to help patients from all over the world,” explains Matt. “We thought this was a noble idea and it inspired us to start full-time research and development of the product.”
Matt and his team applied for a number of grants to get the ball rolling, but their big push came from launching a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. Nix was actually the first official Canadian Kickstarter project, and it raised $70,000 – double its original goal.
The main question for any budding entrepreneur is, of course: will people buy this? “Kickstarter is the perfect way to answer that question without having to spend capital developing an inventory,” says Matt. “After raising our $70,000 from backers across the globe, we knew there was a market ready and willing to spend money on our product.”
Matt and the other seven Nix employees pulled all-nighters and spent countless hours manually putting together colour sensors themselves to fulfill their Kickstarter orders. It paid off, because they’re now selling a second version called the Nix Pro, which can match your scanned colour to paint swatches from brands like Behr, Benjamin Moore, Dulux and more.
The team has also enjoyed some pretty impressive recognition over the past two years. Nix was featured in Daily Planet, TechCrunch, the Washington Post and the Globe and Mail, and most recently, founder Matt Sheridan was awarded the 2015 Ernest C. Manning Foundation Award of Distinction and named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 Ontario Business Achievement Awards.
Their advice to those with a business idea? “Start prototyping as soon as you possibly can,” says Matt. “Actually work on it, don’t let it stay as an idea on the back of a napkin.”
To learn more about Nix Colour Sensor, visit www.nixsensor.com