ClipFix aces field test, cranks up manufacturing

ClipFix inventor Michael Strahl.

By GREGORY ZELLER // Commack startup ClipFix, which peddles an easy DIY solution for busted modular plugs, has aced the first of two planned field tests – and that’s good enough for company principals, who’ve placed a 50,000-unit production order that should be ready to ship by mid-October.

ClipFix targets the tiny depressible tabs that snap into place when RJ-45 modular plugs are inserted into a port or wall jack, connecting monitors, modems, phones, printers, routers, laptops and other devices across the digital spectrum. When the flimsy tabs break, which happens often, the plugs don’t fit snugly into the ports and jacks, rendering the modular cables useless.

ClipFix’s simple solution: a surrogate tab that fits easily around the plug and snaps it securely in place.

The product has performed well in beta testing, leading to the tryouts with two national banks, both of which are testing ClipFix in their New York-area facilities. One test was actually performed by ClipFix under the bank’s supervision – that’s the test that’s been completed – and the other, which is being performed independently by the bank, is just getting started.

Instead of waiting for the results of the second test, confident ClipFix is plunging ahead, placing its first large-scale production order with Islip manufacturer Autronic Plastics – which previously produced several ClipFix prototypes – and opening up its online ordering system.

ClipFix founder and President Michael Strahl said this week the first test-bank hasn’t placed an order yet, but that negotiations are underway.

“We haven’t finalized any sales yet,” Strahl said. “But we’re in the process of shoring up sales. We’re currently discussing volumes and pricing.”

A pack of 25 ClipFix tabs runs as low as $22.99, with prices scaled based on the amount of packs ordered. Company officials believe the extremely low price point will propel sales quickly: Replacing perfectly good modular cables with busted plugs averages $32 per cable for the labor alone, according to ClipFix, plus the price of the replacement cable and the productivity and revenues lost to downtime.

Calculating these factors, ClipFix boasts an ROI of over 3,000 percent – a pretty good sales pitch, noted Vice President and General Manager David Mroczka. To handle the anticipated rush, the company is bringing on new sales reps as quickly as it can find them.

“We’re going with outside reps, working for us but not employees,” Mroczka noted. “Some are full-time, some are part-time, repping for us while they’re repping other products.”

The commission-based sales force stands to make a killing, he added, considering “the vast network of IT companies and resellers out there.”

“Almost everybody knows somebody who’s in IT,” Mroczka said. “The faster we grow our network of reps and distributors, the faster we’ll grow our revenues.”

The company is not sure how many new reps it will hire – it “depends on the quality of the reps we find, and the number of contacts they have already,” according to Strahl – but ClipFix is already making global distribution plans. North American, South American and European sales orders will be filled by Autronic Plastics, an injection-mold specialist known for cranking out products in large volumes.

Meanwhile, the company is in the market for a Far East-based manufacturer/distributor to handle Asian sales, according to Mrockza, and is also “discussing things” with a UK-based distributor to drive sales and shipping throughout the European Union.

What might sound like overconfidence is actually practical thinking, considering the ClipFix is a rare product that appeals to companies in virtually every global market.

“Where do you find these cables? Everywhere,” Mroczka told Innovate LI. “Potentially, everybody with a computer or a phone can use this.”

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