North Rockland Innovators Rise to the Challenge; Earn $6,000 in Startup Competition

BY DIANA BIERMAN

Stephanie Nannariello, 20, of Thiells and Deborah Massaro, 20, of Stony Point

Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston held their second iteration of Accelerate—a student innovation and entrepreneurship challenge—in November where five teams were awarded a total of $25,500 for their creative ideas. One of these teams was composed of Rockland residents Stephanie Nannariello, 20, of Thiells and Deborah Massaro, 20, of Stony Point, who earned $6,000 for their nail polish organizer. Christina Gomes, of Westford, MA also joined the duo.

Accelerate sets up students who have an idea to develop a new product with successful entrepreneurs at weekly workshops to help guide them through the process and further develop the initiative.

Nannariello and Massaro’s design—an easy-to-store decorative cosmetic organizer—was a no-brainer for the avid nail polish users. “We had a lot of nail polish, nowhere to store it, would always have to dump it out and risk it breaking to find the color we wanted,” said Massaro, a junior architecture major at Wentworth. So they created something that would easily and aesthetically be able to store their nail polish collection.

“We feel great about our idea,” said Nannariello, an industrial design major at Wentworth. “Based on our research, there’s a huge market for our nail polish storage system.”

The nail polish organizer was a long time coming. In fact, when the two were in high school, Massaro and Nannariello had to establish an idea for a capstone project for their Principles of Engineering class. “Steph and I were joking around with ideas thinking of things that would be useful for ourselves and we thought of a nail polish castle,” Massaro explained.

Deciding to go through with the idea, and displaying them in their dorm room, Massaro said that anyone who saw the organizers commented on them. “Everyone always loved them and said they wanted them but we never thought much of it,” she said.

Their original design had four levels, able to hold eight nail polish bottles in each. The tower was made of PVC pipe with a rod in the center that turned the discs, allowing the user to take out the color they want to use through little windows.

A rendering of the two's latest nail polish organizer design

However, soon realizing that perhaps not everyone would love the castle shape, they changed their design to a giant nail polish bottle. “We also decided not everyone has as much polish as us, so in order to draw a bigger audience, we made the storage system shorter, with only two levels—a total of 16 polishes—but created a stackable feature so that if you have a lot of nail polishes, you can always add on levels to store more,” Massaro explained.

While there wasn’t a distinct first place winner, only five teams were funded and Nannariello and Massaro were awarded the second highest amount of money (the highest award was $10,000). “We were also the only team that was unanimously voted for by the board to be funded,” Nannariello said.

So what’s next for the talented pair? “We plan to resume the development of our product when we return to Boston this semester,” said Nannariello. “Our first step will be to begin prototype development. We need to further explore our form and test it with our user audience in order to get feedback and make our product the best it can be. When we do eventually decide on one or several final designs, we plan to move toward mass production!”

“We have learned so much from this experience that will be beneficial in our future careers,” Nannariello added.