(NEW YORK) — Goldieblox is a small company that makes toys for girls, but its entry into a unique contest was just right — earning the young firm a free television ad during the Super Bowl, something beer companies and other commercial giants spend millions on.
That Super Bowl spotlight is the result of company founder Debbie Sterling, 29, taking an engineering class at Stanford by chance, and finding her true calling.
“Growing up as a little girl, I had no idea what engineering was,” she told ABC News. “I fell into engineering almost by accident…That’s what GoldieBlox is for me, giving girls that opportunity to know what it is, build those skills from a young age and develop an interest.”
Sterling’s definitely going to get that chance to introduce engineering to millions of young girls around the country as her San Francisco-based company GoldieBlox will become the first small business to have a bona fide commercial air during the Super Bowl.
GoldieBlox is a series of books and construction toys, founded in 2012, with the goal of getting young girls excited about engineering.
Intuit QuickBooks announced on Thursday night that Sterling and her burgeoning company won the “Small Business Big Game” contest and will get a 30-second spot in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, which would normally costs millions.
“When I was started it was just me alone in my apartment in San Francisco, doing research and testing toys on kids,” she said.
During the past six months of the contest and more than a million votes later, GoldieBlox now has 15 employees, including her husband Beau Lewis — who will stand right next to her in New York City when the commercial airs live this weekend.
“Intuit gave us an award of $25,000 and we are using that to fly out our whole company, so all 15 of us are going to be there. I’m also flying in my parents,” Sterling said.
Being a finalist and a winner in Intuit’s competition hasn’t hurt sales either.
“We sold out this Christmas. We are now in over 1,000 mom and pop toy stores. We just launched in Target. We are in Toys R us,” Sterling said. Not bad for a company that went on Kickstarter in October 2012 and ended up raising $285,881 with more than 5,000 backers.
GoldieBlox beat out compost producer Dairy Poop, organic egg farm Locally Laid Egg Company and dog-treat maker Barley Labs to win the contest.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Erin McClam, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho