A few years ago my son-in-law was a daily commuter between Philadelphia and New York City and like many other busy executives he used the travel time to and from the office to work. The problem was that while he worked on his laptop he also wanted to be able to enjoy his morning tea but there was no place to hold a beverage that would conveniently allow him to do both at the same time.
Since the fold down tray on the train was too small to hold a beverage and a laptop at the same time he resorted to holding his drink between his feet on the floor of the train. This setup was not convenient but If he spilled the beverage on the train floor the biggest problem might be wet socks. He needed something which would clamp to the fold down seat tray and hold a beverage container, if a tray one was available, or better yet attach to his laptop. Jeff had scoured the internet in search of a cup holder but nothing was available.
How We Got Started
Jeff knew that I owned a few inventions so he brought his problem to my attention. We discussed what the characteristics of the device needed to be and I told him I would think about it on the way back home to Sarasota. I began making sketches as we flew home. Once we were home I began drafting various devices that appeared to meet the requirement Jeff and I had discussed. After having a very expensive prototype made by a local machine shop, I realized that there would obviously be a need for many more prototypes and I couldn’t afford the costs to have them made by the machine shop. I would have to make them but I would need to buy some special equipment in order to build working prototypes. So I backed one of the cars out of the garage and moved in the equipment.
From Prototype To Production To The Market
Once a working model had been developed a few months later, I needed to have a marketing survey done to determine if the product was indeed marketable and if so how big was the market. A friend suggested I contact the SCORE organization where someone would be willing to offer professional guidance. From my contact with SCORE a marketing survey was done by Students at the University Of South Florida – Sarasota-Manatee campus that confirmed our beliefs in the acceptance and potential market size. The product also received a name from the survey, “The Laptop Butler”. Also, from SCORE contacts a local manufacturing company was discovered that did 3-D model printing. We applied for a patent and production began soon thereafter.
The Butler Did It
My name is William H. Merritt. My son-in-law and co-inventor is Jeffrey Taylor. Our Laptop Butler cup holder solved the problem Jeff was experiencing and it will solve yours! With the Laptop Butler you can safely hold a beverage close by and work on your computer at the same time in cramped quarters such as on the train, airplane, bus, in the terminal or in out-of-the-office location such as a park bench. The Laptop Butler cup holder, has many other uses, such as on a boat, anywhere you need a cup holder to hold a beverage container.