By Leisa Zigman
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KSDK) - Do you have a great idea that could be the next big thing?
Chesterfield's Dr. Rob Paul had one of those bright ideas that he created in his own kitchen. It's now worth millions.
Dr. Paul is a neuropsychologist. He was frustrated with vitamin water selling so well because he said there was no science behind it. Out of frustration, an idea came into focus.
From 2007 until 2009, Dr. Paul mixed compounds and flavors in his kitchen. His wife and two young sons were the taste testers often giving feedback and wondering if their dad was wasting his time.
But eventually, Dr. Paul created what he calls an alertness drink.
"It works by increasing what is called Phospholipids and Acetylcholine in the brain. It helps you become more attentive, more focused, more concentrated in terms of your thinking process," he said.
Dr. Paul says clinical studies proved the drink's ingredients increased brain activity. But the academic scientist had no idea how to sell the stuff, let alone brand it, and market it. He just knew he had a good idea.
That's where Innovate VMS comes in. The mentoring service is based in Clayton and its mission is to build a community of successful entrepreneurs through networking and team-based mentoring of innovative new ventures at no cost. People with ideas are matched with successful mentors that help guide them and hopefully avoid common pitfalls.
Phyllis Ellison is the executive director of Innovate VMS. After six years she boasts of helping launch 200 local companies. She says after the first year in business 88 percent of the entrepreneurs it helps are still in business. After six years she says, 65 percent are still successful.
Last year, 15 companies that started with Innovate VMS made between $250,000 $1 million. Six companies made more than $1 million.
On October 3, Innovate VMS is hosting an event at the St. Louis Science Center that will feature 60 top startups in St. Louis. All kinds of resources will be available for people who have a great idea.
"We get excited when somebody hires four of five people. That is big. It doesn't always make the front page of the paper every day," said Ellison.
Dr. Paul started out with a few bottles of Nawgan placed at the now closed Busch's Grove. It sold so well its now in Walgreens, Dierbergs, Schnucks, and 3,000 stores nationwide.
The company has $2 million in retail sales and just signed with Kirin Holdings of Japan to take the product global.
Dr. Paul says he is proof; the next great idea could be yours.