Magic Sliders Founder: ‘Retailing is Really Changing’

Madi Ferencz,WG’71, the super-successful entrepreneur behind “Magic Sliders,” is ready for a new challenge.

Two of them, actually.

Ferencz spent nearly two decades running Magic Sliders L.P, a company that would eventually sell more than 200 million units of its signature product—coated sliding disks designed to make moving furniture and other heavy items possible without scratching floor surfaces. Before that, she worked with The Nestlé Company and Colgate, putting her skills to use in marketing and new product development.

Now she’s the driving force behind two new products: A cutting-edge, environmentally friendly fireplace unit called the Anywhere Fireplace; and a headache treatment called Dr. Mauskop’s Migralex.

“I’ve got two launches coming up,” Ferencz said this week. “Having been in consumer products, I’m always interested in looking around to see what’s new and exciting and different.”

The Anywhere Fireplace certainly fits that description. It is a high-style, smokeless, odorless, vent-free “fireplace” that burns not wood, but rather non-toxic, non-polluting bioethanol. The fireplace leaves behind no soot or ash and comes in sizes small enough to fit even small apartments.

“When I was working in the corporate world, I was in brand management, but it was the new products that were exciting for me,” Ferencz says. “And I’ve always had an eye for design, too. So the fireplace sort of combines those areas. … When we first saw the fireplace, we just thought it was a beautiful decorative item as well as very functional.”

Dr. Mauskop’s Migralex, a magnesium-based headache cure developed by Dr. Alexander Mauskop, director of the New York Headache Center, will be available later this month and, like the Anywhere Fireplace, will be offered (at first, at least) strictly via the Web.

And there’s a reason for that. “Retailing is really changing,” Ferencz says. “The biggest changes are happening because so many retailers have gone out of business, and the ones that are left doing real volume are few and far between. It’s getting very difficult to get in to even see the buyer, or get the product listed. Real estate is just getting more expensive to obtain in the store, even if you have a good product.”

Because of her success with Magic Sliders, Ferencz says she’s often approached by young entrepreneurs asking for input on their products, or for advice on how to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true.

What does she tell them?

“Two things,” she says. “First, not everyone wants to do what it takes to actually be an entrepreneur. Because it does mean working a lot harder than you would if you were at a corporation. You better be in love with it, because for the amount of time and the kind of tribulations you’re going to face, you’re going to need a major commitment. And second, you better make sure you have the right experience to do it. One of the biggest reasons people fail is that they don’t know what they’re getting into.”

She adds: “It sounds wonderful, but it really is a surprise to people to learn what takes.”

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