A Tale of Entrepreneurship
The story of entrepreneur Ben Cohen-Gazit is an inspirational one. He came up with a great idea from a personal need, realized it had great potential and jumped at the opportunity. A lesson in entrepreneurship started from that moment on.
It all started four years ago with a family trip from Tel Aviv to the north. The car seat in the back did not keep the child’s head from swinging forward, an issue many parents are familiar with: The child is perfectly strapped to the seat, but when she falls asleep her head drops forward. Improvised solutions like wrapping a towel around or physically supporting the head proved inadequate. That trip, Ben Cohen-Gazit came up with an idea that would solve the problem once and for all – a safe, comfortable, easy to install and use headrest for sleeping children in a car seat.
Idea to product in record time
Over the next few months, he studied the subject and found no medical or road traffic research that fully examined this swinging motion of the child’s head. He felt he had come up with something real and frantically worked to develop a prototype in record-time – five weeks. To test market response to the product, he went to Kind + Jugend, the world’s largest fair for baby and toddler products, with a prototype and a commercial name. He reached out to Reinhold Cohn prior to the exhibition to protect the product with a patent application before it is exposed to everyone at the trade fair. His patent application made it through at the last minute, right when he was boarding his flight to the exhibition. Industry leading companies were impressed when they saw the product; they did however, require that the seat undergoes crash-testing.
Within nine months, he had the crash test results, a manufacturing agreement with a factory in China, complete production portfolio, a new product name (NapUp), logo, packaging and a bank loan he was able to secure based on his sweeping belief in himself and the product; he was dressed for success, so to speak.
The rate at which things followed was extraordinary. On July 2015, he ordered a full container from the Chinese plant for shipment to Israel without even knowing who would market its contents. On October 2015, he was selected out of twenty global entrepreneurs to present the product at the new entrepreneur site of the ABC Kids Expo in the United States. On November 2015, he launched the product to the Israeli market at the Baby Land exhibition and it was a major success.
Cohen-Gazit has stated that “[you] need full control when you launch a new product, especially when you come to educate a market and understand the product and sale dynamics. You should start in your home area, learn some lessons and then go out into the world. One such lesson I learned was that that product could not be connected to certain seats; so we made some changes that made it compatible with all types of seats.”
His patent application was published on March 2016. He understood that the more successful his product is, the greater the chance it would be copied, especially with international ecommerce. He therefore expanded the protection of his invention to include national patent applications in many countries as well as applications for design and trademark protection.
In 2016, the product made it to the final round of this year’s Kind+Jugend international product competition. In early 2017, the company began engaging international distributors and by November 2019 had already sold over 120,000 units of the original product.
How an invention evolves
Other products were developed following the launch year, including an adult car headrest that connects to the seat and an airplane seat-connecting headrest that includes built-in headphones and a sleep mask. Cohen-Gazit’s crowning achievement however, is an innovative solution for special needs children and adults and for elderly in wheelchairs, a development also in response to personal hardship. His father, a diabetic and amputee, spent most of his life in an ordinary wheelchair that did not give proper upper body support.
In order to make things better for his father and others similarly befallen, Cohen-Gazit conceived the idea of perfecting the original headrest design meant to brace the drooping head, which would be tailored in a simple and easy way for application on any wheelchair, connecting to it in one step, folding up with the wheelchair, and not interfering with its movements.
The headrest has been tested by many users who cannot sit with their heads up, which has caused them to be unable to perform basic activities such as eating, speaking, fitting into certain spaces and moving as well as having social limitations. This headrest has greatly improved the lives of the people that tested the product, which they and their surrounding community have described as life changing.
By the time the prototype planning and design were completed, Cohen-Gazit’s father had passed away; however, many others will enjoy the latest development. After the product was presented on September 2018 at Rehacare, the world’s largest special needs expo, initial orders were placed before production had even begun. The product, the technology of which is protected under an international patent application, is currently undergoing regulatory processes in the US, Europe and Israel, and is expected to enter the market this year. He has now moved into clinical research as well examining future applications which will be financed by contributions, leaving crowdfunding as a possibility.
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