Longtime entrepreneur Noah Soltes is changing the way people approach icing injuries with Paincakes — an innovative ice pack that’s equal parts convenience and fun
While working out at his neighborhood gym in Seattle two years ago, Noah Soltes overdid it. The Los Angeles transplant ripped the bicep in his left arm and went home to ice his injury. Soltes, a longtime entrepreneur known for starting the Los Angeles-based online clothing retailer Planet Lulu, had no idea his injury eventually would land him in the emergency room and inspire his next big idea, but that’s precisely what followed.
A fitness junkie his entire life, Soltes was used to sitting in his living room icing sore muscles. However, while self-treating that injured bicep, he lost hold of the 1-pound ice pack he was using. The pack slipped from his hand, landed on his foot, and broke his toe. Soltes lost it.
“I threw the ice pack and broke the kitchen window,” Soltes said. “In my fury, I trotted over barefoot and stepped on a piece of glass.”
While getting 16 stitches sewn into the bottom of his foot at the emergency room, Soltes said, he was frustrated but also inspired to reinvent that blasted ice pack.
The son of a small business owner, Soltes had entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. When he was 7, for example, he sold homemade weed killer door to door in his neighborhood. Several years later, he invested the money he’d received from his bar mitzvah into launching a mail-order service for rowing machines. By age 13, Soltes said that business had generated $100,000.
In the years that followed, Soltes launched several corporations and more than 50 different products — his most recent of which aims to modernize the way people ice their injuries.
After that fateful trip to the ER, Soltes wasted no time starting the design for his next product, and just weeks after his ice-pack mishap, Soltes already had developed the first prototype of what would become Paincakes, an adhesive, reusable cold pack that sticks to skin, no hands or straps necessary.
Soltes said the most challenging part about developing Paincakes was creating a reusable adhesive that could withstand freezing temperatures and still stick to skin.
“It was heartbreaking at times because we couldn’t get it right. We had gels that were too sticky, gels that weren’t sticky enough, gels that would freeze and harden up,” Soltes said. “Anytime you’re headlong into something and it’s not working, you’re just frustrated.”
About 1,100 prototypes and 15 months later, Soltes said, the version of Paincakes available to consumers today most closely resembles that very first prototype. “We tried various permutations,” he said, “but that first one, that was it.”
Soltes launched Paincakes last fall, targeting people he knew would benefit from it most — athletes.
“We gave away 2,000 at a marathon in Healdsburg, California, in October 2016,” Soltes said. “We stuck wet runners with cold ice packs, and it was terrifying. I was like, ‘It’s pouring rain, and I’ve got these frozen ice packs. Will they stay? Will people like them?’ It was terrifying for me because it’s that first moment of possible rejection.”
Instead of rejection, Paincakes was met with chatter — and lots of it.
“I saw people walking out of the marathon with (the Paincakes) asking, ‘What are these?’ No one had ever seen a stickable cold pack before,” Soltes said. “It just wasn’t in anyone’s lexicon.”
Following the marathon, Paincakes launched its official Facebook page, which has since grown a following of more than 30,000 in less than one year.
Headquartered in Seattle and manufactured at a warehouse in Renton, Paincakes already has garnered national attention and a global following.
“We have 60 ambassadors,” Soltes said. “They love the product, and they’re out there talking to people. I have one in Australia, and one in Dubai.”
Soltes said he knew people would embrace Paincakes for the product’s accessibility and convenience, but what he didn’t expect was for people to be so excited about — of all things — a cold pack.
“When people look at a strap and an ice pack, it’s just like going to the dentist,” Soltes said. “We’re making cold therapy fun, because it’s colorful, because it’s incredibly convenient, and because it just stays right where you need it. … Frankly, we’re trying to disrupt the entire cold pack market.”
The patented cold packs currently come in two sizes, regular and mini, and are available for purchase on Paincakes’ website. This month, Soltes said, Paincakes will be coming out with a wrap meant for the neck, patella, and ankles.