Starting a company with a new product invention provides both excitement and challenges for an entrepreneur. Bob Steffen is certainly aware of this. He has started several businesses, but his most recent venture presented the greatest difficulty.
Steffen invented a child car seat monitor. The device sends a signal to the smart phone of a parent. Steffen’s monitor detects if the car seat is improperly installed, which is a common problem. The instrument also measures the back seat temperature to determine a baby’s comfort.
Obtaining financial support to market the product was Steffen’s initial trouble back in 2010. That was before all the current features were added to the monitor. At first, the device only detected proper seat installation and whether the seat becomes unbuckled.
As Steffen continued to refine the evolving technology, his efforts paid off. His company, Cars-N-Kids, finally obtained a US patent for the car seat monitor in 2012. In addition, the enterprise reached agreement with a manufacturer to include the device in its product line of car seats. Tomy, a Japanese maker of children’s products will begin selling its new First Years car seats later this year with the iAlert monitor of Cars-N-Kids
The product redesign and development of a smart phone app required Steffen to raise $650,000 of capital from angel investor friends. Steffen is still seeking additional funding, but now reports that potential investors are finding him. As the first products using the iAlert are about to enter the market, Cars-N-Kids is continuing engineering work on the monitor. Steffen hopes to adapt the product for wireless connection to a dashboard warning light.
Steffen also expects to land contracts with other car seat manufacturers plus create a standalone device that functions with any seat. Having already reached major milestones this year, his determination and vision are leading his company toward further successes.