A Small Business with a BIG Idea
Most if not all products are
developed to solve a problem. This problem just so happens to be a very
common problem for both men and women. So, what is this problem? A very
sore lower back that made it difficult to enjoy my favorite warm
weather activity, mountain biking. So, what was my solution to that
Back Support Belt.
In 1997 my lower back pain was
getting so bad I was concerned that I would have to give up mountain
biking. So, I started my search to try and find a back support belt
that would provide full freedom of movement and not affect my breathing
while biking. Well, after many months of searching there was nothing to
be found. Since I did not want to quit riding I decided to develop one
myself and so the process began.
In my search for a
belt I found a company called Kevco/Stubbs racing that manufactured a
very high quality Kidney Belt for Motocross. I liked the construction
and quality, so thought I would contact them to see if they would be
interested in a redesign. Well, it just so happened that they were more
than willing to help. Kevco/Stubbs is owned by Frank Stubbs Company and
they manufacture all different types of orthopedic support devices.
Now, with a manufacturer who has the ability to cut and sew up any
style of support device, we started the process of designing the
perfect back support belt.
First I told them
what I needed
and then to get a jump start they sent me a box of different types of
devices to test that they already manufacture. One of these devices, an
upper back support belt for women worked quite well. It was very narrow
in the front and had a gradual taper to the back. The belt was not as
wide as a kidney belt and because of the smaller size, the belt
actually stayed in place while riding and it did not affect my
breathing. It still had some problems though, but we had a great place
to start. Well, in the next eight months we worked those problems out
and by the end of 1997 had a product that was much more refined.
The next step was
to find some
people to test the sportBELT. Who better than your friends. I passed
out a bunch of sportBELTs for them to use for work and play. Everyone
was an avid athlete and the variety of day jobs were from desk jockeys
to construction. What a great testing ground. It did not take long for
everyone to take a liking to the sportBELT. The word got out quickly
among friends and family and that was proof that the sportBELT worked
and worked very well.
What next? Well in
1998 I sent the sportBELT to many magazines for testing. Two major
sports magazines, Mountain Bike Action and Skiing tested
and wrote great editorials about the sportBELT. Too bad they messed up
the company name in both articles and misprinted our phone number in
one. Oh well.
1998 was also the
year of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Here in Minnesota we had
a local skier on the US Alpine team who was in the news because she was
having back problems. A light bulb went off in my little bald head and
I got on the phone to the US Ski Team. The Director of Athlete
Preparation in the Sport Science Department was interested and agreed
to test the sportBELT. I sent them some belts to use in Nagano and sat
back to watch the Winter Olympics.
Shortly after the
Winter Olympics I received an e-mail from the US Ski Team Director of
Athlete Preparation. One skier, who had a very
bad back, used the sportBELT in Nagano. He stated that the sportBELT
worked quite well, since he got 9th in downhill and 13th in SuperG.
Both finishes were better than his world rankings at the time. The next
step was to supply enough belts to the team so that they could continue
using them in competition.
Some day, it would be great to
money off the sportBELT. But, as in all new business ventures it takes
a while. So, for now I have to keep my day job and hope that some day I
will sell enough sportBELTs to be self employed. So, please buy a
sportBELT Back Support Belt and help a small business owner
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