The old axiom that necessity is the mother of invention is particularly true — and can be profitable — for inventive moms who build businesses around solutions to parenting dilemmas. But moving from inventor to full-fledged entrepreneur takes time, perseverance and, yes, money. Consider the journeys of these mompreneurs who launched inventions while taking care of their kids practically full-time.
Founder of LulyBoo LLC, Santa Ana, Calif.
Pazit Ben-Ezri, founder of LulyBoo LLC and inventor of the Baby Lounge.
Invention: Baby Lounge
In 2006 Pazit Ben-Ezri’s 3-month-old son Ronnie often couldn’t sleep unless he was in his crib. But with a family always on the go, Ben-Ezri found that putting Ronnie down for a nap at home was nearly impossible. “I had gotten to the point where I didn’t go out because of this,” says Ben-Ezri, 33, who had been a nursery-school teacher. So Ben-Ezri decided to make a small cushion with handles that fit in Ronnie’s crib, but could be removed to take him on errands. She drew sketches, taught herself to sew, and created the first Baby Lounge, a foldable bed that can be worn like a backpack.
Everywhere she went, Ben-Ezri fielded comments from moms who wanted the “backpack bed.” She gave away several prototypes in exchange for feedback and incorporated changes, such as a waterproof bottom and a sun canopy. But it wasn’t until attending her second juvenile products trade show in 2009 that Baby Lounge took off.
“The buyers need to see that you are serious,” says Ben-Ezri, noting that it still took seven months of negotiatons after the show before securing her first deal. She got orders from Target.com and BabiesRUs.com for the $75 Baby Lounge. To date, Ben-Ezri has sold tens of thousands of Baby Lounges and began turning a profit this year, although she declined to disclose revenues.
Ben-Ezri’s Advice: Go out of your way for feedback. Ben-Ezri offered prototypes of her product in exchange for feedback, which became critical in product development. And she walks store aisles to watch how customers react to the travel bed.