When twin brother and I were toddlers, back in the early 1950s, twin strollers weren’t on the market. Our dad thought of the idea, but quickly dismissed it as a fantasy time investment. Too bad! If he followed through with his brainchild, we would have become a rich family. Today there are plenty of dads who are motivated to turn bright ideas into million dollar businesses.
Take Jon Sumroy, the brains behind mifold—the most advanced, compact, and portable child safety seat in the world. In 2001, while living in Englewood, New Jersey, Sumroy carpooled his and the neighbor’s kids to school. In an email interview, he said, “Whenever I drove, my kids had their booster seats, but whenever they were in someone else's car they were unprotected. I wanted to find a booster that was so compact and portable that the boys could carry it with them all the time.” Sumroy wanted to make sure his sons were so safe no matter whose car they were in.
That's when he came up with the idea for mifold the Grab-and-Go booster. Ten times smaller than a regular booster seat, mifold brings the seat belt to a child’s size. The seat is so compact it can fit into a kid’s back pocket.
In 2012 Sumroy read an article in The Pediatric Journal on research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The study showed 50% of children in the USA in carpools don’t have a booster. In an e-mail interview, Sumroy said, “I realized that, if 11-years later no one had solved the problem, then maybe my idea could be a viable business. I dusted off the plans, built a prototype in the garage and the rest as they say is history.”
The Chicago Tribune says this about mifold: “Could be the most innovative development in car seats in decades.”
Edward McClosky needed to solve a delicate problem—his daughter’s diaper rash. He needed a chemical-free baby wipe. Since none could be found, McClosky invented WaterWipes. WaterWipes was a huge hit in the UK and can now be found in American stores like Babies “R” Us and Target.
Stockpile gift card is Avi Lele’s brainchild. He wanted to give his children, nieces, and nephews stock so they could learn to invest their money instead of spending it.
Why would kids want stocks when they would probably prefer computer games or a new iPhone? Lele says, “Most kids have no idea they can own stock in a company they love, like Apple, Disney, Facebook, or Nike. But lots of kids want to own stock once they realize they can, and we're seeing this firsthand at Stockpile.”
Stockpile reports 20% of their brokerage accounts are actually owned by kids and teens, which is unheard of in the brokerage industry. Lele says, “I think it's because we've built an incredibly engaging experience for young people. When a kid opens a Stockpile account, they get their own login so they can track their stocks without bugging mom or dad. They can even place trades on the Stockpile app that go to their parent’s smartphone for approval.”
For example, Lele’s 15 year-old son uses the Stockpile app to place a trade for $20 of Under Armour stock. That shows up on his dad’s phone, and if Avi Lele approves the transaction, the trade goes through and the stock shows up in his son’s account.
Lele was inspired to develop a gift card for stock a few Christmases ago. He says, “I was shopping for my nieces and nephews, and I thought, ‘wouldn't it be neat to give them stock in their favorite companies instead of more stuff that they'll just play with a couple of times and forget about?’ So I tried to do it, but it was such a hassle, I gave up. I needed to open brokerage accounts for them, but to do that, I needed their social security numbers, which of course I didn't know. And the stocks I knew they'd love were just too pricey—hundreds of dollars a share for Apple and Google. So I went back to the toy store that year, but I couldn't get it out of my mind and figured there had to be a way to do this.” And that's how Stockpile was born.
Stockpile gift cards can be found at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail locations. Now buying stock is as easy as picking up a bag of chips.
Marc Toland, a father of two girls, was concerned about his daughters’ safety. Worried about the dependability of traditional smoke detectors, Toland invented Sooner Alarm’s PlugSafe. Heat sensors in the device have an added layer of security detecting problems at the most frequent source, the electrical outlet. A wireless connection to the remote alarm notifies families of any fire before it spreads.
Dadpreneurs like Jon Sumroy, Avi Lele, and so many others have solved parenting problems from diaper rash to compact child car seats and fire security systems. These innovative dads are providing us with products and services that improve our daily lives.
So this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, 2016 give your father a huge hug and a big smile. Even if he didn’t invent a twin stroller or have an epiphany to augment our lives, his love sure improved yours. Happy Father’s Day!