Dealerscope 2020 40 Under 40: Nicholas Romano, New England Technology Inc. (NETi)
For a look at the rest of the 2020 40 Under 40 honorees, be sure to check out the 40 Under 40 homepage.
Job Title: President
Company: New England Technology Inc. (NETi)
Years in Industry: 9
Where You Grew Up, Live Now: Boston, MA- currently living in Boston, MA
Education: Saint Michael's College
Accomplishments: First, I need to acknowledge my team at NETi for allowing all my accomplishments to be a reality. We have an unbelievable team which supports every achievement I’ve been fortunate enough to attain. I’ve taken the lead orchestrating and launching many “Daily Deal” platforms. Navigating through inventory management, marketing, design, pricing and back-end logistics into a successful launch of multiple daily deals sites and platforms that are in the market today. One of our core values at NETi is creating custom-tailored solutions that work well for our customers. Helping our customers create an end-to-end promotional-driven platform has allowed us to deliver extraordinary value to our retailers.
Three years ago, I founded a non-profit called “The Children’s Business Fair” for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 6-14. The movement educates our youth on financial literacy and business practices at a young age. Our 2020 event anticipated having over 25,000 attendees at the two-day marketplace where young entrepreneurs show off their businesses, products or services (unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19). NETi believes in building a better future – there’s no better way than teaching our future leaders responsibility and experience at a young age.
I’ve created multiple private-label brands in the past 5 years. Starting these brands from ground floor concepts, eventually progressing into full retail rollouts has been an incredible experience. We take an idea, bring it to life, and get into major retail distribution. It’s a dream come true for any inventor! Most importantly it shows the power of NETi to vertically integrate into design, manufacturing, and distribution of products.
We’ve had multiple successful distribution launches for new brands in the USA. Brands who had no presence in the USA can now be found in major retail because of our distribution business. We take quality products and use our distribution efforts getting these brands into stores. Success stories like Roborock Vacuums, Tenda Networking and other up-and-coming brands show NETi’s ability to get product recognition while navigating through the retail channels.
CE Industry Awards: Lenovo Silver Partner; Lenovo Gold Partner; YPO member
What I Like Best About My Job: At NETi we’re able to take an idea and bring it to life. The feeling of starting with only a concept then walking into a retail store and seeing the “concept” on the shelves is a rewarding feeling. The same goes with creating customized platforms, programs, or displays for our customers. One of the things I enjoy is the ability to change the landscape of retail by creating opportunities for our customers to be disruptive in a retail environment. I’m also fortunate with my work schedule - I like to start my day around 4:30 am-5:00 am, take a break mid-morning to spend with family, then work until evening. The job allows for flexible (long) hours, which I’m grateful for.
Pastime/Hobby: My favorite hobby is Jiu Jitsu - I’ve been training for about 10 years and the Jiu Jitsu community is tightly knit like a family. The sport teaches respect, discipline and confidence while cleansing mind and body. Jiu Jitsu acts as a stress-reliever and a place to unwind as daily stresses arise.
Last Book Read: Mastery by Robert Greene
Favorite Movie: Lion King
Favorite CE Product: Smartphones! Smartphones have revolutionized the way we conduct business. Some believe the smartphone has taken away our privacy and negatively affected our work-life balance. I feel it has given me the freedom I’ve always needed. I spend more time with family and friends while not feeling guilty about not being at the office. I see every email, phone call, or problem in real time as it comes across my “desk”. The smartphone has opened up a whole new wave of working remotely beyond the innovation of the laptop.
Major Industry Problem and How to Fix It: One issue with the industry today is the standard electronics “distribution model”. Many distributors take on too much overhead which drives up margin requirements for manufacturers trying to get into retail channels. Some distributors are charging money simply for taking phone calls for their clients/manufacturers. Too many expenses translates to high margin requirements for distributors - meaning some manufacturers with quality product will be forced to either exclusively sell on Amazon or sacrifice quality for a retail rollout. One way to fix this would be to automate more systems and processes on the distribution side, allowing for lower distribution margins so manufacturers can get retail distribution at an affordable price. One problem I see on the horizon is recycling, re-using, or re-purposing electronics products. It’s an issue rarely addressed in our industry but the short- and long-term effects are very real. On the manufacturer side it’s easy to put material inside the box to educate the consumer of how to properly recycle electronics. From a retailer standpoint they could have strict requirements on setting up manufacturers who have eco-friendly solutions for end-of-life electronics products.
What Makes You Believe the CE Industry Will Thrive in the Next 5 Years: One immediate concept which will help the CE industry is the new Work-From-Home lifestyle. As this “new normal” sets in around the globe, people will be turning to efficient solutions for seamless integration of home and office. Working from home will require an entirely new set of CE tools and software. It will be Consumer Electronics that change the dynamic of the 9-to-5 and allow for a healthier work/life balance. Consumer electronics in the household and the birth of “Smart Home” has huge potential. Technology will soon be integrated into daily life, making everyday tasks easier. I look forward to CE solving simple mind-numbing tasks so we can use human bandwidth elsewhere on more meaningful projects. It will be interesting to see how future generations get comfortable letting technology into our lives and trusting Artificial Intelligence.