A Better Tray
“I came up with the idea for the product because my son kept dropping stuff on the floor and spilling,” says Alyson Probst, founder of Star Kids Products.
Her son was two and a half, and Alyson couldn’t find a safe tray for him to use in the car — everything on the market was made of hard plastic, which Alyson didn’t feel comfortable with.
So Alyson decided to make something better. Never mind that she didn’t have experience in product development — she worked to develop a prototype and get the product on the market. After releasing an initial version of the product, she pulled it from the market because it didn’t meet her high standards. In 2006, she released a redesigned travel tray, which is “firm enough” to be useful but “still soft enough that it’s safe.” Alyson says the tray is easy-on, easy-off for carseats, has helpful storage pockets, and is easy to clean. It’s also been crash-tested to ensure safety. The tray won the Whirlpool Mother of Invention award in September 2006 — one of Alyson’s proudest moments — and has since won numerous additional awards for the product.
The Snack and Play Travel Tray is currently available at large retailers like Babies”R”Us, Buy Buy Baby, and Hobby Lobby, as well through Amazon.com.
The company has received an SBA loan, but is also looking for additional capital to expand. Alyson would like to increase the product line through licensing or partnerships. “We’re looking to become a large company with multiple products in the travel accessories area.”