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Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Gable Eaton, 54, rests his finger on a calendar as he talks about his Teq Touch product from his office at the the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Business INCubator building on Cherokee Boulevard.

The founder and CEO of Teq Touch, Gable Eaton first developed the idea for his product that acts as a barrier between fingertips and touch screens when he became frustrated with his coworkers constantly touching his computer screen.

"I had coworkers always leaning over my shoulder and touching my screen with their dirty fingers, leaving smudges, crumbs, and all kinds of things," Eaton says. "So I had to figure something out, and U Touch just popped into my head."

The Seattle native began taking classes at Seattle Colleges to refine his idea and bring the product to market. Despite years of vigorous work and finalizing the requirements for a patent, Eaton was unable to get the company off the ground due to his work obligations with various trucking companies.

Then Eaton came to Chattanooga in 2017 to work with his brother and sister-in-law at their transport company, and once he arrived in this start up-friendly city, he was able to make Teq Touch a reality.

Eaton, a Marine Corps veteran, went through the Company Lab (CO.LAB) CO.Starters program, and was sponsored by Bunker Labs, an organization that helps military veterans and spouses in their entrepreneurial endeavors. He then moved his startup into the Business Development Center because the rent is reasonable and it gives him access to other entrepreneurs.

"This is an incredible entrepreneurial ecological system we have here," Eaton says. "There are resources here for you that you couldn't find in a major city, and to find it in a great city like Chattanooga is just wonderful."

Many are familiar with facts on how filthy personal devices can be, including the notorious 2017 statistic from the National Institutes of Health that a cell phone screen is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. But shared touch screens, such as testable devices in electronics and phone stores or self-checkout aisles in supermarkets, have also emerged as a hygiene concern. For this reason, U Touch was born.

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U Touch

"Every time you go into a McDonald's, every time you go to the airport, every time you go to the grocery store, every time you go to the bank, you will come into contact with a touch screen," Eaton says.

Eaton has sold about 4,000 units of the U Touch at teqtouch.com, and he expects to sell 7,000 by the end of the fiscal year. His target customer group is germaphobes, but he believes the potential uses of the product extend far beyond that.

Although Eaton first came up with the concept for U Touch for his own personal hygiene, the business has evolved to assist anyone concerned about the potential dangers of public screens.

"This is really about providing a service and being of service to others," Eaton says. "At the end of the day, I created U Touch to protect people from the germs on these touch screens."

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