Why I will never develop a product on my own again

By Kristi Gorinas

 

I don’t watch TV during the day, but one February afternoon in 2007, a good friend insisted that I catch a special on Oprah called “Mom’s Who Made Millions.” After seeing how one mom turned craft day with her three girls into a $20 million business, I knew that I could make at least one of my ideas work. Heck, I had four girls at the time and a lot of ambition.

At that time, I needed a shaded “parking spot” for my baby to use outside while gardening and watching the other kids, but she was too little for a kids’ chair.  I needed something like an outdoor baby jumper that would keep her secure and comfortable – something for her to stretch her legs and maybe even stand in.  So it was then that the Go With Me Chair™ was conceived!

I began designing (in my head).  Before I knew it, I had a removable tray for snacks and and toys, a cup holder and a sun shade. That basically took care of all of her needs; to sit, play, snack, stretch and coolest of all, stand.  No other kids’ chair had all of that.  I knew I was on to something!

Then I thought, “What do I do next?” Having no experience in product development, I got online and started my research. I found a graphic artist who hand-sketched beautiful drawings down to every detail. I initially focused on selling the idea and called a company out of the blue to see if they’d be interested.  I lucked out – they said yes.  So I was off to California to not only pitch the chair, but an entire line of products that would compliment the chair and fit perfectly with their line.

Here’s where I made my first mistake; never put all your eggs in one basket. They loved the chair and product line.  I mean, they REALLY loved them!  After several positive e-mails and phone calls I had no doubt I’d get a licensing deal.  It was as good as done. Then I got the dreaded e-mail, “we are focusing our efforts in other areas.” Four months wasted!

So what did this mom with four kids, little cash and no experience decide to do?  Make it herself, of course!  Luckily, I had met a 25-year veteran of the baby industry a few months earlier, so I ran the sketches past her for feedback. She thought the chair was genius and wanted to partner with me to bring it to market.  Her industrial design engineer had ties in China where we found a factory to make the chair. After two and a half years of development and several factory changes, the chair was ready to make its debut at a juvenile tradeshow where it received much hype… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before all that, I made Big Mistake #2.  I got sidetracked with another product idea – a designer diaper bag with a built-in baby wipe system. After 8 months of unsuccessful development overseas, I was lucky to find a domestic factory in California to make the bags correctly. It was really a great idea that seemed too good to pass up, but it siphoned money from the chair budget. Two product lines in two years and baby girl number five… whew!  Oh, and the CA factory suddenly closed, leaving me with an unfilled order and $25,000 in raw material.  Now, back to the chair…

I knew nothing about branding, trademarks, patents, PR and marketing, e-commerce, accounting, sales, purchasing, safety requirements or importing. I was also trying to deal with a factory in China where the language barrier would cost me time and money.  I tried to manage it all on my own due to lack of finances.

Had I known about Edison Nation before I jumped into trying to manufacture on my own, I would have saved myself a ton of money and stress. I put my family’s finances and future at risk by using our 401k, savings, a second mortgage, a dozen credit cards, family loans and there’s the California factory shutdown. I had gotten so deep into debt, it didn’t make sense to stop the development and manufacturing for either product. The list of mistakes I made along the way is countless and cost me over $100,000, but I had to keep going.  I was “all in.”

Fortunately, one of my contacts worked for a company that sells similar outdoor products. He was a huge supporter of mine and also felt the Go With Me Chair had potential, especially since there was nothing else like it on the market. He showed the product to his company’s president to see his response. With the uniqueness of the product and successful sales, the president offered me a very generous licensing contract.

I continue to design new products, but I will NEVER try to manufacture on my own again.  I regularly submit my ideas to E.N. and work on my own to land other licensing contracts. Persistence and passion in my products will pay off in the long run.

If I could give other aspiring mompreneurs one piece of advice, it would be to follow through with your ideas by utilizing the Edison Nation community to submit ideas or to help you understand the steps necessary for making the product on your own. The Edison Nation website is chock full of vital information and forums that can help save you a lot of time, money and stress.

The Go With Me Chair is manufactured and distributed by Kelsyus: www.kelsyus.com.

Pssst! Want to chat with Kristi and other moms about ways to turn your “mom experiences” into a great product idea? Join her on Twitter for #InventChat January 8 at 2pm EST. 

10 Comments Why I will never develop a product on my own again

  1. Michelle Staley

    I’m a fellow Huggies MomInspired grant winner with Kristi and have had my own experience with bringing a product to market my Busy Breathers Deluxe Oxygen Backpack. I agree 100% with the advice she shared. I was lucky enough to work with someone that had a bag on the market and worked with the manufacturer they used on my first production run. I have since then moved forward with my last two production runs with a reputable manufacturer that my wholesaler uses for their bags. I have surrounded myself with people that are passionate about my product and have been in the same industry that my bag fits into for many, many years. This has taken the guess work and risk out of the equation immensely. So I think that Kristi was dead on! Great article my friend!

  2. Kristi

    Hoping the article will encourage other Mom’s to research outlets that can help them in the process of bringing their product to market. Edision Nation is just one of those outlets that can provide guideance so not to make the same mistakes I did and they also offer the option to license your great ideas!

  3. Lana

    Hi,
    I have a baby pool product that I’m working on getting patented so that I can market it. I recently applied for the MomInspired Huggies Grant but was unselected to win the grant money this time around. Could you give some advice on whether I should have a prototype created (which I already do) it’s just not professionally put together, I did it myself the best I could, to present to Huggies when I apply for the grant again this year? All I submitted with my application was a good sketch being that I’m a Graphic Artist but looking at those who won the grant, most of the winners had the actual product already built. So I was wondering if that is actually what Huggies want to see??
    I have a great Patent Attorney who’s ready to work with me on my product and has the resources I need to market to the stores but I just need to get start up money to get things rolling…any positive advice would help!! I feel like I’m at this all by myself….

  4. Kristi

    Lana,
    I am excited for your new pool product venture – good luck on your journey! It is very exciting to come up with a unique and patentable idea.
    You are doing the right thing by working with a Patent attorney to protect yourself and the product.
    I am unable to comment on Huggies behalf, but I can tell you that two of the 2011 winners had only concepts/ideas and not finished products or even prototypes.
    Again, I wish you the best with your idea!

  5. Lisa Cash Hanson

    Kristi I love how you are so driven to create! And I LOVE your Go With Me Chair.

    I’m a Huggies Mom Inspired Grant Winner for 2012. I’ve never produced a product either. What I love about inventors and inventions is there are just as many ways to bring a product to market as their are products. Well almost. Some people say they never want to do it, others like your story have made millions, some go broke and some end up in the middle somewhere. Some are super successful with a licensing deal. For me I’ve decided to go for it 100%. I’m bringing my own product to market and not looking back. But I have to say winning the grant and having a friend like you is probably one of the best things about being an inventor:)

    I believe no matter what a persons dream is they can make it happen. I heard a very cool message today. One famous singer told another that his song basically was too simple and not that good. You could imagine how he felt- deflated. He never sung the song for a long time. Until one day he starting humming around church. The Pastor said- you need to do that song. He said,” No it’s not that good” ( of course remembering what the famous singer told him. Long story short he did sing the song and to date it’s one of the most famous Worship songs of the day- Here I am To Worship. Chris Tomlin.

    Sometimes no one understands the dream in a persons heart but each of us should pursue that dream down whatever path we desire. You never know what could happen.

    I love your post BTW 🙂

  6. Lana

    Great post Lisa Cash!

    Kristi,
    Did you have a patent on your product before you pitched it to companies?

  7. Essie S. Best

    The chairs are excellent and well built. The oak is only oak stain (it is I believe fruit wood?) but overall blends well with my other oak items. The chair pads look nice with just about any simple design. The legs have built in slides which is nice (as it won’t mark your hardwood floors). To open/close them they are a little stiff at first but after a few times they loosen up a little. Overall very pleased with the product.

  8. Mary Ellen Hale

    Hi, Kristi ~ Thank you for your blog post. Your Go With Me Chair is a work of mom-genius:) Count me as an inspired-by-you inventor and possible customer!

  9. Mark

    After patenting my idea, I spoke with a few people. I could build the company up myself which would take 5 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would then own the new idea and its worldwide marketplace. If I was younger and had more money I might have went this route. Difficult, but very exciting. Instead, I chose to sell my patent and recieve royalties in perpetuity. Now, my time is free to invent other things!

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