Innovation That Matters

Wise Words with Wesley LaPorte


Wesley LaPorte, founder of PhoneSoap, the bacteria-fighting gadget for mobile phones, fills us in on his startup's progress two years down the line.

Mobile phones are everywhere, in the pockets of millions of people the world over, and used constantly every day. One aspect of this constant use that is rarely considered is hygiene. Users eat then text, or shake hands then make a phone call – after each interaction the phone collects bacteria which is rarely cleaned off. Founder of PhoneSoap, Wesley LaPorte, took this health risk as the basis for his business model and developed a case for a mobile phone that cleans the device using a UV light.

Wesley’s background is in the development of cancer tests to try and determine early prognosis. Prior to this he worked as a salesman for a home security solutions company. With this sales and medical research experience under his belt he founded PhoneSoap in 2010 and we caught up with him to find out how his business is faring after two years.

1. Where did the idea for PhoneSoap come from?

I had been doing cancer research for several years at the point when I started hearing disturbing news reports stating how filthy our phones were. I love using my phone so I immediately felt the need to clean it. I didn’t want to use any type of liquid, so I immediately thought of the UV lamps we use in the lab to keep surfaces sanitary. I put my phone under the lamp for a few minutes and felt much better. I thought, “I am going to do this everyday…heck, everyone should do this everyday!” The idea for PhoneSoap was born then.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

As a brand new brand, company and product, I currently wear many hats. Many hours are spent communicating directly with customers, preparing marketing strategies, meeting with investors, consulting with smart people who have done what we are trying to do: build a consumer brand and company.

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on PhoneSoap?

I like to be outside. In the winter I am on the mountain snowboarding. When its hot, like it is now, I like to spend time on the lake. I love jet skis.

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

Don’t be satisfied. Keep innovating, keep trying new things. New ways to reach people. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect better results. You have to adapt and innovate in every aspect of your business. If you just did something good, go try to do it better. 

5. What drove you crazy when building your business?

Everything took about twice as long as I estimated and cost twice as much.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

When things are difficult, I often think of the Edison quote, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” I prefer to think that when things get rough, I am on the brink of success.

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

We launched on kickstarter. The kickstarter community was so great and provided us with so much good feedback, we would have sold on kickstarter for 60 days instead of 30.

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

We see ourselves making great products for those who care about keeping their gadgets clean.

9. If you weren’t working on PhoneSoap, what would you be doing?

I would be doing another product (perhaps I still will…) in the mobile space. Mobile is where it’s at.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

I never wear white socks…

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Live with no regrets by trusting your intuition. If you have an idea, go after it. You haven’t failed unless you quit trying.

You can read more about PhoneSoap here or visit the PhoneSoap website here.

1st August 2012