In this inventor interview Rebecca Rabson explains how she developed her invention SmartSeat Chair Protectors from a need that she and her family had.
Tara: What is your name, invention name and website URL?
Rebecca: Rebecca Rabson, SmartSeat Chair Protector, www.smartseatdiningchaircovers.com
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Rebecca: I live in Newton, MA with my two boys and my husband, who also is one of my business partners. Our third partner is a dear friend with two kids of his own. He lives with his family in CT. My background is in the law. I practiced white collar criminal defense in NYC for several years before having kids and had been a stay-at-home mom for about 8 years before we launched our company.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Rebecca: The SmartSeat is a waterproof, stain resistant, and machine washable seat cover for upholstered dining room and kitchen chairs. It protects like a vinyl seat cover, but is made from a soft and comfortable fabric. I came up with the idea after we purchased a new dining room set for our home. I couldn’t find any waterproof seat covers that provided discreet protection, got the thumbs up from my kids, and didn’t entirely change the look of my chairs.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Rebecca: After coming up with the idea, I created my own prototype, although I didn’t think of it as a prototype at the time. I simply wanted something that I could use! After getting great feedback about my covers from friends and family, my husband put me in touch with a woman who helped us create an official prototype and the pattern and specs necessary to contact manufacturers. We also began the patent process.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Rebecca: Though I made the first samples of the covers to use on my own chairs, our first official prototype was created by a designer. She also created our pattern and spec sheets.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Rebecca: Once it became clear that we were going to work on bringing this idea to market, we filed a provisional patent. We then hired an attorney to filed our patent application.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Rebecca: We never considered licensing our idea.
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Rebecca: The internet is a wonderful resource! I located contract manufacturers throughout the US and contacted several before settling on a factory in PA based on the quality of their work and the price that they quoted. They’ve been making our covers since we started about 18 mos. ago.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Rebecca: We have not engaged in any paid marketing. Most of our promotion has been through social media (facebook, twitter, pinterest) and word of mouth, as well as SEO and blogger reviews.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Rebecca: The most difficult element was just getting started. I knew nothing about manufacturing and the learning curve was steep. Lack of resources also made things challenging, as we are self-funded and were never interested in either getting deeply in debt or seeking outside funding.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Rebecca: It was approximately 6 mos. between creating our first official prototype and our first online sale.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Rebecca: Absolutely. You learn a lot along the way. I would work to ensure that I had much bigger margins if I could do it all over again. Though I love our fabric (I think that it is what makes my covers so special), it is unfortunately expensive. And we have been unable to find alternatives that I think are as high quality.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
Rebecca: Anyone interested in learning more about SmartSeats can visit our website, www.smartseatdiningchaircovers.com, our facebook page, www.facebook.com/seatcover, or email us directly, email@example.com
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