Friends and co-workers Mike Sewell, Ron Ely and Kelly Coddington of Springfield, Missouri enjoyed discussing business opportunities and inventions. The trio have dabbled in solo business ventures including an emu farm, independent cable installation, shaved ice and a Christmas tree farm.
When Mike approached the team with a new idea, they put their heads together. “People often use a paper towel or their foot to open bathroom doors so we wondered what we could do to make the process better and easier,” says Mike.
Their first challenge was to create a device that would allow the user to pull the door open with their foot. The first prototype was built in the garage and sent to their patent attorney. The team next consulted metalworkers and manufacturers to help perfect their design.
Their second challenge was overcoming user or customer concerns. The third challenge was building awareness and acceptance. “Through several redesigns of our product, giving away hundreds of product samples and listening to concerns or objections, we worked through each obstacle.”
Although their biggest fear was not obtaining a patent, slow sales was also a huge concern. Eight years and $40,000 later, they obtained the patent for StepNpull in 2015. “Sales have taken off the last three years and we’re listed in online catalogues with several brand-name stores.”
Their product is also in use at local Lowe’s and Menards stores. With help from Missouri State University, the StepNpull team is currently working on distribution for government contractors and international clientele.
Through their experience developing the StepNpull system, the team is thankful the process took longer than they wanted. “The time has been helpful to absorb information and adapt through feedback,” says Mike. “A business won’t grow as fast as you’d like it to, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll find that success.”
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Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus, Missouri and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.