Little Cloud Nine Travel Pillow
Next up in our series of interviews with contestants in Walmart’s Get on the Shelf contest is Steve Diemer, inventor of Little Cloud Nine travel pillow. What a great idea!!
What product did you submit to Walmart’s Get on the Shelf contest?
My product is called Little Cloud Nine.
Where did the idea come from?
My wife and I travel and I have been blessed with a bad back. I could never get comfortable in coach class seating and the tray table on the seat in front is even too close to place your elbows and rest your face in your hands. I had observed many people experiencing the same problem getting comfortable. Those that were able to sleep would probably avoided sleeping had they knew how open their mouths were, where the drool was coming from …..it was just unflattering.
We were on the way to Hawaii after some back surgery and came up with idea to create an inflatable tube that allows the user to breath while concealing the user’s face from the rest of the public. In addition, this product doubles as a lumbar support when the user does not need to sleep. I happen to live close to DeCrane aerospace where they make custom aircraft seating and visited with their head aeronautical engineer and he said this was a jolly good idea and why had they not thought about it.
So, we made several prototypes until we found the right one that allows the face to be cradled like a chiropractors table but while in a sitting position. We had zero manufacturing experience but I knew I needed someone familiar with specialized fabric welding. After much trial and error, I found a master of the technique that I needed in Blaine MN. He had his own company, Sunrise Packaging, and helped us take our prototype (made out of balsa wood) into the material we needed for its light weight and inflatable properties.
What’s your background (and or day job)?
My first job was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot and I went into insurance and financial services when I completed my tour. I have been in financial services for the past 35 years.
What difficulties did you have creating the product?
The first hurdle was obtaining the patent and trademark copyright. We did this from drawings prior to the working model being ready to use. The second hurdle was finding someone with manufacturing expertise . The third hurdle was finding an American Company.. It seems lie the manufacturing utilizing this material are all in china. the next hurdle was packaging, art work, pricing, distribution and determining a fair price. It is my intention that this product be available to the masses at a very low price. the final hurdle has been getting the airport vendors to try a new product It is so unique that it looks odd, but compared to a snoozing person in coach class with their mouth open, it is a beautification in coach class!!
Have you sold any? (or is the product currently for sale somewhere already?
I have sold several hundred using google adwords. I am currently attempting to get my product out using a google seo company to help me get into more areas that just adwords.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice to someone in my position would be, “don’t get started unless you have enough money to plow into the program. I have about $70,000 of my own money in the project and have gross sales of just over $10,000.”
Be sure you have adequate capital, a great plan, test your product and then jump in with both feet.
Good luck, Steve!