Trellie was conceived in 2012 over lunch. Claude Aldridge and Jason Reid were sharing war stories about needing to talk to their spouses and not being able to reach them by phone.
They went over day-to-day complaints (Jason at the grocery store shopping for infant formula, calling his wife to double-check which was the right kind for his son, but getting his wife's voice-mail) and emergencies (Claude's wife missing an urgent call about his sick son at school). It was all too easy to imagine more life-threatening situations their families might face, with no certainty of connecting.
As the fries ran out, Claude and Jason concluded the problem was that their wives' phones were chronically buried in their handbags. The work bag, the purse, the diaper bag—they were like sound-insulated black holes where phones got lost. But what if a bag could help with communication instead of hindering it?
Within an hour, the concept for Trellie was born.
After four months, manufacturing and testing were worked out, prototypes were being made, vendors were sourced, and excitement was building. A few weeks later, Anita Newton came on board, developing strategy, marketing expertise and fielding new consumer research that emphatically confirmed the need for Trellie.
The need is everywhere phones are. With more mobile phones than people in America, we should be able to connect from anywhere, anytime. But do we? About half of all calls end up as messages rather than conversations. Sometimes that's not good enough.
Trellie means "Be Connected." That's our mission. The goal of Trellie is to develop simple, beautiful products that facilitate communication and solve real, everyday problems. Trellie wants people to be connected, whenever they need to be.
We're entrepreneurs with wireless expertise and a hard-working coffeepot. We've brought in all kinds of tech and manufacturing support to help us advance Trellie. Our "Be Connected" mission is also our work style. The greatest strength we have is the people we have surround ourselves with.
Claude has spent much of his career working in startups including Transportation.com (sold to Yellow Corp) and AthletixNation.com (purchased by Digital Broadcast Group). He was a founding partner of financial management firm Aldridge, Cherra & Aldridge as well as advised several startups regarding their digital strategy. He spent several years in Venture Capital joining Open Air Ventures, a firm focused on mobile wireless based solutions. At Open Air, Claude worked with numerous startups giving him a much better sense of the market, consumer, technology and team requirements needed to grow successful companies. Claude lives in Leawood, Kansas with his wife Tiffany and their two children Luke and Lyla.
Jason has extensive sales, operations and business development experience. Jason recently led the business development function at Saepio, a marketing asset management firm with over 200 brands worldwide as clients. Prior to Saepio, Jason spent more than six years at Cerner Corporation where he excelled in sales leadership and managing strategic sales initiatives for a sizeable number of Cerner's largest Midwest clients. Jason worked directly with large hospital C-level executives and many healthcare organizations selling over $45 million in margin on software and services during his tenure. Jason also co-owns a successful real estate company which makes property investments in the Kansas City area. Jason lives in Fairway, Kansas with his wife Stephanie and their son Benton.
Anita has over 20 years of general management, marketing and innovation experience across a variety of industries Anita is a Senior Marketing Advisor and Entrepreneur in Residence at Open Air Ventures. Anita has deep marketing experience including leading the consumer marketing organization at Sprint and overseeing the digital and retail marketing organization at AMC Theatres. She also spent several years at Procter & Gamble where she held a variety of senior sales and marketing roles. Anita has complemented her large company experience with growing successful start ups including leading the marketing for Zave Networks, a company that was recently purchased by Google. Anita is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of Kansas. Anita lives in Prairie Village, KS with her husband Dean and their two children Sydney and Spencer.
David Shields has 20 years of wireless product business experience including Sales, P&L Management, Product Management, and Sourcing/Supply Chain, Vendor Management, and Strategic Partnership development. David's past roles include managing Sprint's accessory business for 11 years overseeing all aspects of the business. Under his leadership, Sprint increased revenue from $68M to $200M in just 3 years and increased margins to over 85%. While at Sprint, David also led the development of emerging product categories including Bluetooth, stereo audio peripherals, and wireless routers. Previous to Sprint, David was a National Product Manager for In-Building Wireless systems for SBC and oversaw product deployment and design of wireless PBX and microcell deployments across all SBC markets. David has also served business development roles in 3 mobile broadband equipment startups. Dave lives in Kansas city with his wife Sara and their seven children Gabriel, Owen, Lucy, Jude, Frances, Clark and Bernadette.
Mr. Thad Langford is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Open Air Ventures advising promising start ups in the region. Previously, Mr. Langford served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Zave Networks, Inc. (also known as Zavers). He joined Zavers after a distinguished career with Sprint where he excelled and established a track record of driving growth. He is considered an innovator in the wireless industry for his efforts in wireless data. He served in a variety of executive leadership positions across the functional areas of Marketing, Strategy, Product Management, and Business Development. As Vice President of Strategic Partners and Innovation at Sprint, he led and managed a profitable business unit responsible for strategic relationships with wireless wholesale, affiliate, and cable partners inclusive of partnership management, operations, pricing, and strategy. He advises a number of promising start ups and is a great addition to the Trellie team. Thad lives in Leawood, Kansas with his wife Susan and their daughter Bryson.
Ron is a pioneer and respected leader in the wireless industry. Ron brings over 40 years of telecom senior operating experience. Ron has held senior leadership positions in a number of organizations including Chairman, GoGo Inflight; CEO, Japan Telecom and COO, Sprint. Ron was employee number 1 and CEO of Sprint PCS, the break through wireless division of Sprint. Under his leadership, the company generated $10B in annual revenues, faster than any US company has before or since. Ron is a highly sought after board member for both public and privately-held companies and currently sits on the boards of Allstate (ALL), Imation (IMN), GoGo In-Flight Internet, eRecyling and MachineryLink. Having worked in an environment known for innovation and emerging technologies, Ron is a great addition to the Trellie advisory team. Ron and his wife reside in Kansas City and spend time enjoying their seven grandchildren, including two sets of twin girls.
Lance is a seasoned and respected investor in the technology and innovation space. He is the founder of October Capital, a privately funded venture firm that invests primarily in innovative, technology-enabled businesses. He is also the Director at Open Air Ventures, a privately funded venture firm that invests in wireless solutions. Known for his hands on leadership style, Lance has mentored numerous successful entrepreneurs and management teams. He serves on numerous board sets including eRecycling, MachineryLink and GreenLight Connectively solutions. Lance brings with him 10+ years of entrepreneurship and venture investment experience. He is an essential and valuable adviser on the Trellie team. Lance lives in Kansas City with his wife and five children.