Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How a tired mom turned an everyday accident into a $1.3M business idea

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As a first-time mom and passionate reader, Lou Rice often breastfed her son while reading her Kindle.

But in June 2022 the unexpected happened.

In what she describes as the “eat, sleep, repeat” haze, Rice stumbled a “first of its kind” million dollar idea.

“Archie was feeding and I just sort of found myself dozing off but woke to him crying,” she said.

Rice soon realized the Kindle she had been holding had slipped from her hand and hit her son on the head.

Australian mom Lou Rice invented the “Strapsicle” to make it easier to hold onto an e-reader.

While Archie had no injuries from the mishap, it was from this accident that Strapsicle, a silicone strap which attaches your e-reader to your hand, was created.

Fast forward 18 months and Strapsicle is quickly becoming the world’s leading Kindle accessory, with co-founders Rice and her partner Ben Stainlay having made more than $660,000 in revenue.

“Ben likes to solve problems, he’s a problem solver and a true inventor,” Rice said.

Rice got the idea for the Strapsicle when she dropped her Kindle while breastfeeding her son Archie.

Stainlay first designed the straps from an old silicone mat at their Bondi home, which allowed his partner to carry-on reading while nursing. 

“After a couple of weeks using it, I could even fall asleep with it and it wouldn’t fall out of my hand, I tried to go back to reading without it and I hated it,” Rice said.

The couple decided they were onto a business idea after friends and family experienced similar issues.

“We had the luxury of time, we were lucky, Archie was sleeping well, it was lockdown and we weren’t socializing, so we thought, let’s give it a go,” Rice said.

Rice started the business with her partner Ben Stainlay.

Rice fondly described her partner and Strapsicles co-founder as a “purest inventor.”

“Having experienced a cancer scare two years prior, Ben was motivated to pursue his passion for inventions and Strapsicles was the perfect project,” she said.

After the couple secured a suitable manufacturer and workshopped two prototypes, they had their winning design.

“It was such a good feeling to get that first shipment of the product, like we’ve actually made something, this is so cool,” she said. 

Stainlay designed the first Strapsicle device using old silicone mats.

As Strapsicle grew in demand with kindle readers, Ms Rice said she was able to quit her corporate job in February this year.

“We had no idea of the level of its success, if I could tell myself that within two year we would surpass $660,000 after the first year and be on track for $1.3 million, it’s wild,” she said.

Initially finding success with the help of online influencers, Strapsicles has continued to grow its customer base after it launched an online store through Amazon.

“A lot of our success has come from Amazon as Kindles are huge in the US, as soon as I got us on there things really took off,” Rice said.

“There is just so much opportunity, we haven’t even scratched the surface.”

The business ins on track to earn $1.3 million in revenue after two years.

Rice said it’s not just Kindle readers who love the product, since launching she has received countless thank you messages from those living with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, carpal-tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.

“People living with conditions where they can’t pick up a book have told me they can now finally read again, it’s really helped deepen our purpose,” she said. 

Strapsicle has also made headlines after winning the “Best New Product” at the New Zealand Gift Fair earlier this year and “Product Innovation of the Year” at the national Awards in August last year.

Many users of Strapsicles have taken to social media to share how the “simple but effective” design has changed their joy for reading. 

The product is popular with people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, carpal-tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.

“I have a Strapsicle and find it useful…honestly, even if I have a single finger under the strap, it makes a world of difference,” one user wrote. 

“Just got mine a week ago and loving it so much more than any of the other grips I’ve tried,” another wrote. 

Now with fans across the globe, Strapsicle could be branching into other designs with iPads and phones next on the agenda.

“It’s something we’re thinking about, but we want to do it right,” Rice said.

The couple will be heading to their first trade show in New York in August this year. 

“On one hand I feel like we are this new business, a bit of a hot mess, but on the other hand we’re constantly growing and we figure it out as we go,” Rice said.

When it came to sharing where she got the confidence to start her business Rice said there is nothing like the rush you feel when you receive your first orders.

“You’ve just got to do it, just keep going and get out of your own way” she said.

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