The Traveling Laptop Butler Cup Holder — Solving Commuter’s Problems
The traveling laptop butler cup holder to the rescue! A few years ago my son-in-law had a daily commute 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 a problem – 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, hopefully 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 was available, or better yet attach a beverage holder to his laptop and rest the laptop on his thighs. Jeff had scoured the internet in search of a cup holder but nothing was available.
I did some research to determine the potential market size. The research considered the following. 1) The number of monthly commuters that used the rail and air systems, 2) The number of those people that used a laptop and consumed beverages while they traveled. 3) After gathering that information we looked at consumer buying habits and determine that the potential market for our product could easily be very high.
How We Got Started On The Laptop Problem
Jeff knew that I owned a few patents 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. Once we were home I began sketching various designs that appeared to meet the requirement Jeff and I had discussed. I gave a drawing to a local machine shop and after having a very expensive prototype made realized that there would obviously be a need for more prototypes. I couldn’t afford having prototypes made by someone else so I decided to make prototypes myself. I backed one of our cars out of the garage, bought some equipment and began to make prototype after prototype.
The Laptop Cup Holder Development, From Prototype To Production
At first I made prototypes from various plastics and then graduated to aluminum. After several months a working aluminum model was produced that met our requirements. We applied for a patent on the product and it was awarded on September 14, 2010.
I needed someone that could do a marketing survey to determine the products marketability and a friend suggested I contact the SCORE organization, where someone might be available to provide free professional guidance. From my contact with SCORE I met Jon Stuart, a marketing professor at the University Of South Florida – Sarasota-Manatee. He offered to have his marketing students perform a marketing survey using my product. The students performed a study at the Sarasota International airport using one of my aluminum prototypes. Concurrent with their marketing survey a marketing class at Tennessee Tech also performed a study. Data gathered from these studies confirmed our beliefs in the acceptance and potential market size. The product also received a name from the USF survey, “The Laptop Butler”.
Also, from SCORE contact a local manufacturing company was discovered that did 3-D model printing. Necessary design changes were made to permit the product to be injection molded economically. Once the 3-D Production designs were fine tuned the molds were ordered, sub vendors identified and parts procured production began.
The Laptop Cup Holder To The Rescue For Millions Of Commuters
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 and 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.