In 2018 Amy Hedrick founded the Nashville, Tennessee-based Cleanbox Technology Inc., a premium eco-friendly smart tech hygiene company specializing in UVC surface decontamination. Hedrick’s strategy for building a thriving business is by solving a real-world problem, and her vision for creating a global impact brand with reach across multiple industries has grown the company from an idea to a multi-million-dollar global business in two short years. Hedrick and her Co-Founder David Georgeson, both visionaries in the immersive tech space, worked in tandem to build the vision behind Cleanbox into a successful business. Her execution of the company’s vision has established Cleanbox as a brand trusted by its many Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 clients.
To learn more about her vision and inspiration that led her to start this company, we sat down with Amy Hedrick, CEO and Co-Founder of Cleanbox Technology. Here she shares about her entrepreneurial journey so far, how Covid-19 turned out to be a blessing in disguise for her business of keeping others healthy, and how she plans to change the world by bringing hygiene technology to a new frontier.
Aspioneer(A): Pretend I’m not a tech person. Can you tell us about Cleanbox in simple terms? How does it work? What makes it unique?
Amy Hedrick (AH): “Cleanbox Technology uses UVC light for surface decontamination, specializing in high levels of efficacy in the shortest amounts of time. We leverage the science of ultraviolet C-wavelength light to clean devices.
Our UVC engineering is proprietary and has been independently lab validated to ensure successful decontamination. We provide safe hygiene without the use of chemicals, heat, or liquids. Our hygiene and safety products are made for frequently used or shared devices, including head-mounted displays (HMDs), surgical and protective masks, eyewear, personal electronics and accessories, and other business and household items. Cleanbox products have been independently lab validated to kill 99.999% of viruses, bacteria, and fungi in a one-minute cycle—without environmental impact.
In addition to the independent validation of our engineering, which harnesses UVC light to eliminate a range of bacterial and viral contagions, Cleanbox technology also comes equipped with premium, intelligent tracking functionality. Our products combine the science of UVC decontamination with ongoing monitoring to ensure modern businesses that the invisible hygienic process is working. All Cleanbox products are user friendly and provide consistent and reliable hygiene—mitigating human error.”
(A): What is your purpose behind your products?
(AH): “The defining purpose of Cleanbox is to provide a powerful tool in the fight against microscopic contagions of all types. At Cleanbox, we’re obsessively focused on ensuring the efficacy of our products. Ineffective decontamination products leave users with a false sense of security, and that’s not something we can live with. Our products are designed with nothing less than the total removal of these contagions from surfaces where they are potentially transmitted. While there is one particular contagion that is currently – and appropriately—the center of attention, the problems we solve extend beyond COVID-19 to protecting people from the contagions that make people sick every day.”
(A): Please share with us the story behind the birth of Cleanbox. What was your inspiration behind it?
(AH): “About six years ago, I was writing for a think tank about technology and its impact on consumer behavior. I began to see the progress that XR was having in entertainment and education first-hand. Because I have a long relationship with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, I began thinking about the huge number of objects in their possession, and the reality that they can display only about 1% of them at any given time. From my perspective, there remained an endless supply of stories, knowledge, and learning opportunities that were under-leveraged. I could see significant potential in triangulating all this historical information with Hollywood storytelling to produce an immersive experience through developing technology via an XR experience.
I pitched the Smithsonian, and, although the project did not end up happening, we identified a significant hurdle to rolling out immersive tech. As an organization that saw 30 million people go through their facilities every year, the Smithsonian required a way to protect the people that came through. Even in a pre-Covid world, people needed to be protected from contaminants that could be passed through the sharing of XR head-mounted displays. My co-founder and I developed and patented our UVC LED engineering solution which later became the foundation for Cleanbox Technology. Beyond XR, we saw a huge need for what our engineering could provide across a variety of use cases.”
(A): As the saying goes, criticism is the key to success. Have you ever been criticized for your business idea? Also, what was the biggest challenge you encountered while growing your business? How did you overcome it?
(AH): “Most founders will tell you that they had to believe in their vision and not rely on the enthusiasm and support of family and friends. Starting a new business is hard—from building the right team to raising money, to creating a valuable end product. I’ve been told before “I don’t believe this science” or “You don’t know enough to do this”. But every leader has to continually learn, so I learned to ignore naysayers who had no vested interest in my success so that I could take strategic advice from those who did.
I think the hardest part is getting a company off the ground. Because we started out in the XR (immersive technology) space, my co-founder and I had an idea based on a need that many people hadn’t even realized was a critical business pain and liability point. It was my job not only to pitch the idea to get the funding needed but also to convince investors and clients alike that our products were critical and met a need they had not yet realized they had. We were essentially “creating” a market for our products. Before the COVID pandemic, the hardest part of my job was convincing people of the necessity of hygiene in the workplace. Fortunately, I can now move on to bigger and better challenges.”
(A): What does a typical day for you look like? What are some of your hobbies?
(AH): “Am I supposed to have a typical day? (smiles…) Every day is different and has its own set of challenges and surprises, and I really love that. I’m an all-in worker, committed to the vision and job at hand. This is a necessary trait for success. The drawback is that I sometimes need to be reminded to find balance and create downtime. When I need a break from “brain work,” I love switching to something hands-on to allow my mind to reboot. I love to create art and paint, and I’m also a musician. Taxing a different part of my brain does wonders for increasing my energy.”
(A): Are you currently working on any new project? What is your end goal?
(AH): “Our OmniClean unit is the only product of its kind on the market. This product will literally transform the way businesses execute and monitor hygiene across many, many industries. Beyond that, we are planning to take the platform of the OmniClean and adapt it to a consumer version. Our longer-term efforts will share new technology, innovation and adding to our innate value proposition by meeting additional enterprise needs.
I personally want nothing less than to change the world, and I believe that bringing hygiene technology to a new frontier will create a lasting impact on global and environmental health. UVC decontamination technology presents us with incredible opportunities for preventing the transmission of disease as a less wasteful, and more effective alternative to traditional methods.”