Inventor Mums

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

Forget grey hair and labcoats, inventors these days are more likely to be juggling a baby and housework. Much maligned stay at home mums are now proving they've got the best and the most lucrative ideas. Tonight we meet three mums who have taken simple household ideas and turned them into multi million dollar businesses.
This is the latest hit dance DVD produced by mum of two Mary Toniolo - 'Get Up 'n Move' stars her daughter Gabriella. And might even be as successful as her award winning portable children's dance studio 'Bella Dancerella'.
Named toy of the year in the United States, it sells in 20 countries. Her business partners include Disney - not bad for a former secretary.
"We often hear of many mothers inventing for their children. Often its because they've identified a need for the child or for themselves in terms of their day to day life or making things a little bit safer" says Troy White from Industry Development Centre.
Innovation expert Troy White sees around 1400 new ideas each year at the Industry Development Centre of NSW. Convinced mums are inventing some of the simplest, smartest and most lucrative new products.
"Perhaps one of the best known success stories is Julie Clarke who developed the Baby Einstein Corporation in the US, went on to develop a multi million dollar business from her home" says Troy.
Vicki Solopotias began her personalised gift product business in her garage. Her 20 staff export almost a million gifts annually to the USA, Canada and New Zealand.
"The turnovers its huge! It's an evolving business, we're establishing a new company. We've even secured the Simpsons license to do license Simpson products and thats been due to the success of personalised products" says Vicki.
Vicki loves her financial freedom and family flexibility.
"Definitely! I'm able to do conference calls from home. I do a lot of work on the mobile and its just that flexibility of when you're in your own business it doesn't really matter where you are... you can operate it from anywhere" adds Vicki.
12 months ago single mum Kathryn Seelen reinvented the lunchbox.
"Motivation came through sheer frustration for not being able to get a lunchbox that catered for my girls."

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After just 6 months Kathyrn's already cashing in. So far shes made $10,000 the prediction being business will rise to $150,000 next year.
Through personalised products Vicki has now turns over 2.5 million each year and Mary Toniolo's Bella Dancerella a staggering $210 million worldwide.
"I think they start out, like many people they have an idea of how to improve their life... and often they go along to the shop to try and buy the product they were looking for in the first place, find its not available then think well why isn't it" says Troy.
Of the 1400 innovations presented to the development centre every year, only a handful ever make it to manufacture.
"The business can be very lucrative but its important to understand it can also be very risky so while millions of dollars can be made, millions can be lost so its important to go through the process in the right way" advises Troy.
"Do your research, make sure that there is a market there and just be really passionate about what you're doing and go for it" says Kathryn.
Vicki advises "The advice I'd give to mums out there just trust your instinct."
And Mary; "You don't dream about it, you just do it."

www.boxydesign.com.au
www.personlisedproducts.com.au