beddybye

Bye Bye BeddyBye

The 3rd prototype. BeddyBye does not come with the adorable bear suit.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning you’ll know that about a year ago I invented and developed a product for babies. My friend was complaining that her baby only falls asleep in bed with her, but she’s so afraid of smothering him she can’t relax – and then when her baby falls asleep he would wake up if she tried to move him to the crib. I designed a baby bed that was safe to keep in the bed with the parents. It has sturdy walls to prevent smothering, a stable base to prevent it from toppling over, and a catch to prevent blankets and sheets from riding up over the baby’s face. I did all the research and found the perfect slope to hold the baby in a position that prevents acid-reflux and SIDS. All this, and it has handles so you can move it into the crib without waking up the baby. Eventually the parents could ween the baby off falling asleep in the bed by keeping the product in the crib. I called it BeddyBye. After reading that some parents use car seats in bed with them, I realized that my product would be filling a void in the market place.

Reilly asleep in the 2nd prototype

There were a lot of highs and lows. I took an idea and developed into an actual product. I created four prototypes; the last one my cat still sleeps in every day. I held focus groups, I worked with consultants, I formed an LLC and bought the domain name for Beddybye.com. Whenever something was too intimidating and stressful I just thought of how much I wanted to see my future kids sleeping in it. I knew that I would need to get investors because the start up costs were extremely high, however, eventually there was a hurdle I couldn’t get past.

The baby product industry is tightly regulated (fortunately), and after speaking with a woman from one of the 8 safety boards I would need to get approval from, I realized that my idea was not going to get approval. The woman at the safety agency told me that they need to predict and prevent the most dangerous situations such as what if the parents put it on an unstable water mattress, or if they’re sleeping on a twin size mattress with the BeddyBye hanging over the edge. Or what will happen if the parent is a sleepwalker and kicks it off the bed in his/her sleep? These were all considerations that could only be addressed by completely changing the design and concept. Without safety approval I would never be able to sell the BeddyBye in stores, and the cost of insurance would be crippling.

My friend’s baby in the first prototype

I decided to take a break from the project (over 6 months ago). As I got some distance from it, I realized that I really hated working by myself. It’s extremely lonely. Several times I’ve thought of taking up the project again (I still think it’s a great idea, and when my cat sleeps in the prototype it breaks my heart), but honestly I don’t have the energy for it. I was at a TED talk the other day and a woman who started an art dealing business talked about how it takes delusional self-confidence to start your own business. After talking to the safety agency I lost that delusional self-confidence and it’s nearly impossible to work without it.

I know people have the best intentions when they offer suggestions for working around the safety regulations, but to be perfectly honest it’s a really sore subject for me and I don’t like talking about it. It was very hard for me to give this project up. It was hard for me to focus on the things that I learned rather than look at it as a failure. But I want to move on. So for the record I’m done with BeddyBye.

The Realization

Sorry for not posting more frequently, I’ve been very busy at my part time job teaching ESL this week. But I did want to share a big decision I’ve made this week.

Since I came up with the BeddyBye idea I’ve read a lot about entrepreneurship. All the advice suggests that you ask yourself how involved do you want to be. Do you see yourself running the day to day operations of the business, or would you rather develop the concept and then sell it?

For a long time I was certain that I would want to run the day to day operations – work with manufacturers, run the website, organize the shipping and inventory, and improve marketing. However, when I think about how much is involved with manufacturing it is overwhelming. There is a reason why so few people enter the manufacturing business, or sell their ideas to an established business- the start up costs are so high for an individual entrepreneur. I realized that I don’t want that to be my full time job.

I have decided to take a month long break from BeddyBye and then I will focus on selling the idea. I think the best option is to get a provisional patent and then sell the idea with the website domain and the LLC. I want to see my dream realized, but when I’m honest with myself, I recognize that I don’t have the energy, drive, or money to handle the manufacturing hurdle. In other words, I would like someone with the experience and resources to take over.

But don’t feel bad for me. I don’t look at this as a failure or as settling. When I set out on the HeSo project my goal was to take my dreams and ambitions more seriously. My goal was not to focus all my attention on one idea. So if I am able to downsize the BeddyBye project, teach ESL (which I love), and work on my exciting next project (which I will write about in the next month or so) I will be true to my HeSo.

Financial Empty Calories

I’ve started to teach ESL again and I love it. At first I fell into the trap of comparing my new paycheck to my old paycheck. That is the worst thing I can do. There’s no point in comparing salaries between two completely unrelated jobs. You need to compare happiness, and satisfaction. At my old job, my only sense of satisfaction came from making money. When that’s the case, you need to keep making more and more money in order to feel satisfied. It’s like eating empty calories – there’s no substance.

Here’s a much better way of looking at it my new part time job: I’m getting paid to have fun. I really enjoy talking to my students, hearing about their cultures, and coming up with new ways of making the past perfect verb tense fun. Besides for the grammar, it’s a lot like hanging out at the hostel  when you’re backpacking and meeting people from all over the world.

If someone paid me to watch movies I love, I wouldn’t scoff at the paycheck, or compare it to how much I would get paid to do something I don’t like, I would say , “how did I get so lucky?

Am I trying to tell you money is bad? Hell no. I want to be able to travel all the time, and eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis when my feet are hurting, and wear pretty clothes, and not have to worry about bills. I’m still working on my BeddyBye invention, and I hope it will make me a millionaire one day. The difference is that the money won’t be the only source of satisfaction – it will be a reward for my hard work, dedication, and risk-taking. But just knowing my product made one person’s life easier would be worth it too.

p.s. My main priory right now is finding a mentor to talk to. If anyone knows someone in the manufacturing world who would like to be a mentor, I’d love the connection!

The Will for BeddyBye

I finally got over my depressing cold. You know those colds that leave you in bed for a week moaning, “what’s the point? I should just give up.” But as soon as you can breath through your nose again, and stand up without feeling woozy your will to live gets surprisingly stronger.

Another will that has gotten surprisingly stronger is my will to make BeddyBye succeed. My cat, Reilly, slept next to me (in the BeddyBye) for many of my Nyquil induced naps. Nothing made my heart swirl as much as seeing my little baby curled up in my invention. And then I thought the only thing that would make my heart swirl even more would be if my actual future baby could curl up in an actual BeddyBye. And then I thought, “Damn it I have to do this.”

And last night I came up with the final missing piece of my design. The piece that will make the BeddyBye completely safe (which can not be undervalued when you’re talking about products for babies). The overall design has changed a lot, and I’m not sure how to make the prototype, but as Rhett Butler said so eloquently, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Or perhaps Scarlett said something more apropos, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Ahh shocks I love that book so much. If you’ve never read Gone with the Wind you have to. It’s so much better than the movie.

A Failing Course of Action?

While I was getting swept up in the excitement of my LLC approval, and having a successful focus group, I forgot about the lingering manufacturing costs.

My current design for the BeddyBye has a plastic infrastructure, a urethane foam covering, as well as a custom fitted sheet. The plastic and foam both need to be made with a mold. Molds are great if you have tens of thousands of dollars lying around and you know that you’ll be selling huge quantities, but the upfront costs make it almost prohibitive for anyone who’s starting out.

So far the cheapest quote for making the mold for the plastic component (JUST the mold – not even the finished product) was around $8,000. Yesterday I got the upsetting news that the molds for the foam (who knew foam needed a mold?) would be $3,000. The kicker is that on top of the mold cost, the cost per unit (if I’m ordering 100 at a time) is $45 each! And that’s just for the foam. There’s no telling how much the plastic units and the fitted sheets will cost. The upfront manufacturing costs will most likely be around $14,000. Even if I forget about the upfront costs, it will  cost about $120 for each baby bed to be made once I have the molds. A hefty number especially when market research indicates that I need to keep the price under $100. With these numbers it’s impossible to ever turn a profit.

This is when I think: Why couldn’t I come up with an easier product? or better yet, Why couldn’t I just be happy with a regular job?

So far I’ve invested $3,500 in this project. That’s nothing compared to my emotional and time investment. At this point I fear “escalation of commitment to a failing course of action.” In other words, am I holding on to an impossible dream just because I made an initial investment? Should I get out before I risk even more?

NOOOOO! That’s the whole point of this blog. I wanted to make the struggle public to hold myself accountable. Otherwise, I would have given up the second I first thought of BeddyBye. When I started the HeSo project I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I was leaving a secure, easy job for the horrifying thrill of following my intuition, believing in myself, and taking risks. Just as a difficult workout makes the heart grow stronger, I believe making difficult decisions will make my HeSo stronger!

Stay tuned for some of the solutions I have brewing!

Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.

Denis Waitley