Crowdfunding Spotlight: mifold
November 4, 2015
We’re all about innovation making day-to-day life easier, but we love the mifold because it takes great inventing further by keeping safety in mind. It’s an amazing update for the traditional booster seat, founded by Jon Sumroy.
When people hear about how the Wearhaus Arc let’s you sync up what you are listening to with other nearby headphones, they often think of children watching a movie together in the back seat of an automobile. we like to think that the mifold would make that experience even better. So we interviewed Davide Gandus from the mifold marketing team to learn about the vision coming to life through the magic of crowdfunding.
Give us an insight into the beginning of mifold. When did Jon know it was an idea worth prototyping?
In 2001, when Rhoanna and Jon lived in New Jersey, they were part of a carpool for the usual school run. Although they had booster seats for their own children, they did not have spares for the other kids they took to school. On other days, it was their children that traveled without a booster when they were in someone else’s car. When the grandparents came to visit, they always had to transfer bulky boosters from one car to another. If they did not plan well, the kids ended up being driven without a car seat at all.
Jon thought, if he could make a booster seat that was very small and still safe, so that a child could carry it with them all the time, then his children could be safe no matter whose car they were in.
Jon’s idea for mifold was to do the exact opposite of how a regular booster seat functions; instead of lifting up the child, mifold holds the seatbelt down. Holding the lap belt down to fit securely on the bones of the hips and pulling the chest strap down to fit securely on the bones of the shoulder. It was that simple. If a booster did not need to lift a child up, it did not need to be big and bulky and the idea of mifold was born – a compact and portable booster seat that was so small, it could be carried by a child and stored almost anywhere.
Then life got busy, and mifold the vision, sat in a drawer for 12 long years.
In 2012, a friend sent Jon an article about some research from Pediatric Magazine Carpooling and Booster Seats: A National Survey of Parents. Jon realized that if 50% of US kids did not use the correct booster seat while carpooling, then there was a need for something like mifold.
Jon started working with the idea as a hobby in his spare time. Using canvas mats, straps and mountain climbing carabiner clips, Jon built improvised prototypes of mifold. When he had a reasonably sturdy version, he took it to the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK to crash test it. Jon could see that the test engineers were somewhat skeptical, as if they were wondering, who’s this guy with this totally unconventional folding, floppy device? But they ran the tests and together with Jon, were excited when the mifold prototype actually worked very well and provided an identical level of protection as a regular bulky booster seat.
Then mifold started coming to life.
How many renditions did you go through in the prototype process?
Over the last three years the mifold team of designers, engineers and industry experts have developed dozens of prototypes to arrive at the mifold grab-and-go booster seat that everyone is excited about. Here are some photos from their development scrapbook so you can see how mifold developed and changed in three years time. We have had 5-6 main design changes but a total of 30 iterations.
Have you run into any obstacles since the mifold has been purchased in a number of different countries?
As we knew car seat regulations at times can be very confusing and different in each country. Knowing that each country had different requirements we are developing different mifold versions depending on regulations and labeling requirements depending to which country it is shipped to.
You crowdfunded on Indiegogo. Why crowdfund?
Crowdfunding is a great way for a new company to determine their initial order quantities for manufacture. By supporting the Indiegogo campaign and effectively pre-ordering mifold, we are able to more accurately prepare our material and stock levels to ensure that we meet demand in terms of color preferences and languages for packaging and instructions. In return, the customer has the opportunity to receive mifold at a significant discounted price compared to the planned recommended retail price.
In addition, Indiegogo is a great platform and it allows you to expose your product in front of millions of people and get some great marketing out of it.
Crowdfunding was an incredible winning strategy for mifold since we were able to pre-sale over $780,000 worth of mifold and sell around 25,000 units passing our initial target of $40,000 in just two hours! mifold is now known worldwide and so our exposure strategy went much better than what we had planned since we sold mifold in 89 countries.
What does the ideal back seat situation look like to you? Obviously there is a mifold, but what else? Are the kids engaged watching a movie, etc?
The ideal situation in the back car seat for a mifold family would be the following:
Three kids in the back row: a 10 year old, a 6 year old and a 2 year old. The two big brothers are both sitting on a mifold while the little sister is sitting in her rear-facing 5-point harness seat. The bigger brother, Tommy, is playing games on the i-pad, while the middle brother, Alex, is chatting with his mother about his adventures in the sandbox with his friends at school, and to conclude, the two year old Emma, is singing heartily “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with her father which is driving and has a little bit of a headache.
However, we all know this is not really close to reality. A real life situation would see the two brothers fighting over who plays with the i-pad and asking daddy how much time is missing till we get to destination, crumbs and candy everywhere in the back seats, and the two year old little girl sleeping or doing some noise as well. All this leads us to the conclusion that mom’s are angels.
What is the future of mifhttp://blog.wearhaus.com/2015/11/04/crowdfunding-spotlight-mifold/old. Will there be an expanded product line or just the one product?
At the moment we are a one-product company! However, we have a number of new products in the pipeline, which we will be introducing in the next few years.