By Nick D’Andrea
As you sit back and watch the college and professional football playoffs over the next several weekends you should take note that Worcester could possibly leave its mark in all the games played. That’s because Worcester native Kevin Gniadek is Co-Founder of Loudmouthguards, which is becoming a revolution in the Mouth Guard world; an industry that hasn’t been touched in decades.
Loudmouthguards is a mouth guard that provides the same level of protection as the top brands in the market but is also cool, fun, different and provides an athlete a vehicle to express themselves on the playing field.
“As a product developer I am always brainstorming concepts with friends and colleagues. In the spring of 2013 a colleague (Desean Cunningham, Co-Founder and partner) approached me and mentioned that he had a friend who had a concept for a product and was looking for help on developing the idea as well as the product” said Gniadek , who graduated from Holy Name High School in 1995 and Worcester State in 2002. Gniadek was a standout athlete at both schools.
“The original idea came from his younger nephew who drew shark teeth on the exterior side of his pacifier style mouth guard” he added, thus Loudmouthguards was born.
Since the fall of 2014 Kevin and his partner have been working a grassroots campaign to provide young athletes a special kind of mouthguard without losing the primary focus of top level protection, which lead to the motto they coined in that initial meeting, “Where Protection Meets Expressions” .
They have been selling their mouthguards primarily on their online retail store and some East Coast retailers. Gniadek and Cunningham have also been attending youth football tournaments and have been getting positive feedback. The biggest highlight of their product is when Denver Broncos Running Back, Ronnie Hillman wore it during Sunday Night Football on September 28, 2015. Commentator Al Michaels even made a comment about the mouthguard.
I asked Gniadek how he felt seeing his product on an NFL player. His response: “Complete shock followed by childish ridiculousness!!! When Al Michaels mentioned Ronnie Hillman’s (Broncos RB) mouth guard on Sunday Night Football (26 million viewers) I gasped, my eyes widened, and everything went silent.” “My brother texted me “It just got real”, a text I will forever remember and a day I will never forget. “
“When NBC transitioned from the game to a blown up still shot of one of the mouth guards my chin dropped and I spazzed out!!!” he said. “It was a complete surprise as we had no prior knowledge that is was going to occur”
This journey is just starting for Gniadek, who plans to release new and even louder mouth guard styles in the upcoming year, but the key lesson he learned through this process was “Don’t keep your ideas a secret… Tell the world & maybe someone will help you bring them to fruition.”