Creating an invention and getting a patent is step one in a very common entrepreneurial path.
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After that, there's still a lot of work to do. We asked inventor and entrepreneur Tangela Walker-Craft to share her experience with us.
Tangela, the first question is an easy one. Where is your business located?
Great. So why don't you tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Simply Necessary, Incorporated markets and sells a child care pillow that I invented and patented.
The pillow can be used from birth well into the toddler years. It uses include but are not limited to:
- Breast feeding pillow with built-in privacy cover-up
- Pillow and body wrap for babies
- Portable toddler pillow and blanket
- Portable diaper changing surface
- Sun and wind shield for babies and toddlers
- Arm cushion for carrying babies and toddlers
- Extra hand during diaper changes etc.
- Arm warmer during cold weather (especially during outdoor activities)
- Travel Pillow for all ages
When did you start the business?
We started our business in December of 2005.
What were you doing before this?
Prior to starting Simply Necessary I was a high school English teacher.
Where did you get the startup money?
My mother loaned me the money to start my company.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Our competitors are other breastfeeding pillow or swaddle blanket manufacturers.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I honestly thought retail stores would recognize how innovative my product was and immediately want to put it onto their store shelves. It is very difficult to get retailers to give a new product a chance.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I had not spent most of my advertising budget for the first year with a single PR firm. I was disappointed with what they did for the money that I spent with them.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I have been able to keep my business going by doing some of my own PR work. I have depended on word of mouth advertising and the help of mom bloggers to help spread the word about my product.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Do your homework! Make sure that you have a really good pitch for your product and anticipate questions that customers and buyers will throw at you.
Be careful with your budget; over estimate all of your costs because the market is subject to change. Your cost for goods can fluctuate drastically depending on your product.
That's great advice. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck with Simply Necessary. It sounds like a great product!