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From Idea to Household Brand: Meet Conor Kelly, the Entrepreneur behind a Marketing Masterstroke

Photo Credited to: The Zero Fog ‘Genius Glasses Cleaner’
Photo Credited to: The Zero Fog ‘Genius Glasses Cleaner’

By Regina Sadykova

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, this entrepreneur saw an opportunity amidst the chaos. Conor Kelly, aged 22, noticed that anyone who wore both glasses would constantly have their lenses fogged up when wearing a face mask.

He stumbled across a solution that had the promise of preventing this from happening and became the first person to bring the product to the Irish market, using marketing techniques that shook up the entire industry, which he has shared in his paper ‘0-100 Marketing’. 

Founding Zero Fog

During a time when there was a lot to be concerned about, Conor Kelly’s concern that the glasses were fogging due to wearing a face mask was one issue being overlooked. Realizing there are 2.5M glasses wearers in Ireland when he found a solution, he quickly created a unique brand targeted towards an Irish audience, so the Zero Fog Microfiber Cloth was born. 

The Zero Fog Microfiber Cloth is hailed by many glasses wearers in Ireland as a ‘Game Changer’ for being the first product to solve a problem that many believe was unsolvable! It’s a reusable cloth you simply wipe your glasses with to prevent them from fogging. Each use lasts for 24 hours. The product comes in a specially designed package which helps maintain moisture in the cloth. 

Photo Credited to: Zero Fog, Customer review of May 2021

However, Conor’s entrepreneurial genius came when marketing the Zero Fog. Knowing that product demos had a viral appeal, he took advantage of social media to make Zero Fog to spread product awareness.  Maintaining this momentum, he brought the product onto the national press, building up brand credibility, which would ultimately land partnerships with some of the most influential figures in Ireland. 

All of this was achieved within a couple of months of launch, and Conor Kelly contributed a blueprint to the marketing industry that details how to create a household brand at a rapid speed. A technique he calls ‘0-100 Marketing’. 

Meet the Visionary: Conor Kelly – Founder of Zero Fog

Born with an entrepreneurial spirit and driven by the thrill of innovation, Conor Kelly had been actively involved in the start-up scene in Ireland. Even before the pandemic struck,  he had established events, media, and e-commerce businesses, and was always on the lookout for unique, untapped market niches. 

A recent graduate of Business and economics, he saw the pandemic as a disruption that was creating outsized opportunities, and he decided to seize one of them. As a shrewd entrepreneur, Conor noted that there were over 2.5M glasses wearers in Ireland and effectively no solutions for anti-fog on the market.

“In any business, the most important element to nail is distribution. There was no existing distribution for any anti-fog product in the Irish market. Nowhere to find it, nobody was marketing it, and yet millions of people faced the problem every day”

When Conor launched Zero Fog in 2021, it was an immediate success, with his first video product demonstration reaching over 1M views on Facebook. Conor quickly realised he was onto a winning product, and devised a strategy to grow the brand rapidly. 

“Time was of the essence. I knew the face mask mandate wasn’t permanent, and I had to bring Zero Fog to market fast and decisively.”

Conor leveraged the virality of his product to feature on major Irish media outlets such as Newstalk and TodayFM with widely known Irish presenters such as Ian Dempsey. Having done numerous rounds with the media, Conor successfully enhanced the reputation of Zero Fog, making it a highly credible brand in the eyes of Irish consumers and businesses. 

With his brand’s reputation enhanced, Conor approached many influential social media figures in Ireland, such as Tony Cantwell, Suzanne Jackson, and Terrie McEvoy, who all agreed to sponsorship deals, creating an engine for sales.

Conor’s strategy was to double down on this technique. In 2021, he worked with almost 20 influential figures and managed to scale Zero Fog to over 12,000 customers. This approach of rapid product scaling reached fame around those in the marketing industry, who applauded Conor for his outstanding marketing strategies, which had never been seen before. 

Conor contributed his techniques to the marketing industry by providing keynote talks, seminars, and workshops on how to use the same approach to scale other consumer products—advice which the sector has warmly welcomed.

The Genesis of Zero Fog

The idea for Zero Fog was born out of an issue affecting over two million glass wearers in Ireland – their glasses fogging up due to wearing a face mask. Conor identified this as a sufficiently large market and set about researching solutions. After speaking with multiple manufacturers, he developed a reusable cloth infused with a hydrophilic solution that prevents fogging. 

This meant that the product was sustainable, cost-effective, and light enough to be flown from China to Ireland within a day. This was crucial given the tight timeframe of the pandemic rush, not to mention the global uncertainty around supply chains. 

“The most important operational factor of the business during the pandemic was to minimize lead time, as we were dealing with such uncertain timelines.” 

To get the product reliably manufactured, Conor used a hybrid production system, where the product was manufactured in China, where it could be made in a matter of days, and the packaging was made in the UK, where it could be delivered in less than a week. The final assembly was then done in Ireland.

“Having a decentralized supply chain meant that the maximum time a customer would wait for an order was one week. However, stock levels always remained sufficient, so in most cases, customers waited 1-2 days”. 

This process helped to ensure the growth rate of Zero Fog could be sustained in periods of high demand, where the business was receiving an average of 1000 new customers per month.

However, the truly remarkable part of Conor’s story is not managing the growth but creating it in the first place. Conor knew he would need to be extremely quick when marketing Zero Fog due to the short-lived nature of the problem related to glasses fogging up when wearing a face mask. 

To achieve this, he devised a strategy that would allow it to be done cost-efficiently. 

Recognizing that no similar product was available in Ireland, Conor knew that once customers used Zero Fog, they would be so amazed that they’d immediately want to share it with their friends – he was right. Zero Fog was going viral on Irish social media within days. 

Conor then drew a roadmap to make Zero Fog a widely recognizable brand in Ireland within a few months. This involved taking the product’s virality into the mainstream media and publishing the effect on national media. 

He then leveraged this national media attention and brokered partnerships with critical influential figures around Ireland. This further elevated the brand’s reputation, making it highly regarded in Ireland and becoming the go-to solution for preventing fog on glasses.

Conor was heralded as a marketing genius for coming up with the strategy, which brought in over 12,000 customers in the first year, ordering over 45,000 units and hundreds of thousands of euros in revenue. 

Becoming a Household Brand

 Conor’s playbook for marketing Zero Fog set a precedent for the industry, showing other entrepreneurs how to take products to market with blistering speed. He coined this blueprint ‘0-100 Marketing’ and attributes Zero Fog’s success to this strategy. 

“I set out to make Zero Fog a well-established brand in Ireland within a few weeks of launch, and I did this both because it was the fastest way to grow and because I knew the timeline to have an impact would be short.”

Conor outlined the plan, which involves finding product market fit pre-launch, identifying the optimal media channels to advertise the product and leverage the right channels to go viral on social media, using this to capture the attention of traditional media, who then featured Conor and his product, which gave him credibility to broker partnerships with leading Irish social media influencers, who helped to boost the brand recognition and sales drastically. Conor then devised numerous conversion optimization techniques, referring to the maximization of sales, which do deep web design and email marketing. Zero Fog boasted a conversion rate of 18%, 5 items the industry norm. 

“Once we had partnered with the biggest influencers in Ireland, it was easy to make our way downstream to smaller influencers who were also great. This process became an engine for growth. We were doing an average of 2 collaborations per week. This quickly helped capture mindshare across our target demographic in the country.”

After a highly successful go-to-market campaign, Conor received orders from enterprise heavyweights such as Johnson & Johnson in Ringaskiddy and Cork and Pfizer in Singapore. 

Photo Credited to: Zero Fog, Map of Customers in Ireland

With tens of thousands of customers, Conor’s marketing prowess made a dent in Ireland, which has a population of just 5M, around half of whom wear glasses. 

Zero Fog also reached high acclaim on national television, with appearances on The Late Late Show and the Six O’Clock Show. This credibility further bolstered Zero Fog’s reputation and legitimized Conor’s ‘0-100’ marketing strategy. 

Dealing with Competitors

Despite being a pioneer in his market, Conor later faced competition from retail giants and overseas sellers. However, Conor’s focus on providing exceptional customer service and a direct-to-consumer model kept it ahead of its competitors. 

Conor had urgency at the top of their mind when bringing Zero Fog to market, which put him months ahead of the competition. However, in late 2021, anti-fog sprays such as the Optiplus and single-use wipes like ‘No Fog’ began appearing in pharmaceutical stores and retailers around Ireland. 

The Zero Fog Microfiber Cloth maintained its differentiation by providing a reusable cloth, which was both environmentally friendly and very convenient to carry around in your pocket or purse. Conor also used his Irish-focused marketing techniques to appeal to his local audience. This helped to fend off competition. 

“Many competitors came to the market after the Zero Fog brand grew. However, as I had made partnerships early on with leading influencers, it was difficult for them to replicate this go-to-market motion. Therefore, most competition came from retail or overseas suppliers on Amazon. Areas which were not my core focus”.

Recognition and Awards

Conor received two awards at the 13th Annual 2023 Globee Awards for Business. The Globee Awards for Business is a prestigious program that recognizes and honors organizations and individuals from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the world of business. 

Priding itself as an award ceremony that recognizes trailblazers and visionaries who shape the international business landscape with their extraordinary contributions, the Startup Awards issued to Conor Kelly for his go-to-market strategies were given to him for his achievements in ‘scaling Zero Fog to over 12,000 customers in a year’. 

Conor was awarded 2 Globee Awards at the ceremony, and other industry leaders at companies such as IBM, JP Morgan Chase & Co, and UiPath.

“It was amazing to get the recognition from Globee; it clearly shows that the unique go-to-market strategies I’ve created have made a real contribution to the industry. Entrepreneurship is my passion in life, and I love nothing more than helping other entrepreneurs succeed. This award helps me just do that”. 

Giving Back to the Industry

Beyond his success with Zero Fog, Conor has been keen on sharing his marketing strategies and go-to-market expertise with other entrepreneurs. He has provided workshops at Trinity College Dublin’s Tangent Accelerator and DogPatch Labs, a leading startup incubator in Ireland. He also mentors venture-backed start-ups, sharing his strategies that turned Zero Fog into a household brand in just a few months.

“It feels amazing to be able to make a contribution to the marketing industry by sharing my knowledge and techniques, which have helped lots of young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground”. 

Conor providing a workshop at the Dublin Marketing Meetup in DogPatch Labs, Dublin.

Sourced photo

The Future of Zero Fog

Conor is now focused on applying his go-to-market specializations to artificial intelligence. However, Zero Fog continues to adapt and thrive. When Ireland suddenly removed the face mask mandate in February 2022, Conor quickly diversified into other products.

He launched the ‘Genius Glasses Cleaner’, a microfiber cloth with anti-fog properties that attach to any keys, bags, purses, etc. It is a convenient way to keep a high-quality glass cleaner nearby. 

“Adaptability is key for any business to survive, if you’re a solo entrepreneur or running a business, maintaining adaptability is absolutely crucial to success.” 

By leveraging his existing customer base, Conor made the Genius Glasses Cleaner a core product of the business, stabilising profits and giving a new life to the company. 

The Genius Glasses Cleaner is now a core part of Zero Fog Ltd, where Conor remains Founder and Managing Director. 

The Zero Fog ‘Genius Glasses Cleaner’

Conor’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and swift adaptation in the face of adversity. It is a shining example of how an entrepreneur’s vision, coupled with strategic marketing and execution, can turn a brand into a country-wide phenomenon in just a few weeks.

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