Melinda has always thought of innovative ideas and creative concepts. Her formal background is in business, graphic design, and marketing, so she’s always looking at the world and how to make it better. While working out in the gym, she was thinking about how nice it would be to be able to exercise and work on her laptop at the same time. She came up with a laptop tray design with 360-degree adjustment capability and complex clamping mechanism which she named the “AttachaTray.”
In an effort to take the product to market, Melinda attended a casting call for a TLC show on women inventors in Chicago. Amazed at the number of women with great ideas, but no way to promote them, Melinda returned home with a bigger idea and Womentorz was born.
Tell us a little bit about Womentorz and how you got started.
I came up with the idea of Womentorz after attending a casting call in Chicago for a TLC show on women inventors being produced by Kelly Ripa’s production company Milojo. I was among thousands of talented women with amazing products with one thing in common … needing a way to market and gain exposure of their invention.
Obviously, I didn’t get on the show but knew there was a reason why I was meant to go and began reflecting and brainstorming about my experience. I started the process of building Womentorz™ in July of 2009 and have gone through a long road of growth, networking, adjustment of services and improvement in the quality of the website.
The site was officially launched in December of 2009, but needed to go through an entire overhaul and was re-launched in April of 2010. Womentorz has gained a large following in a very short period of time and has been blessed with representing amazing and talented women inventors.
What did you do before launching Womentorz?
I have had a business with my husband for three years called Intuitive Safety Solutions where we staff construction projects across the nation with safety professionals. I also own a business called MAK Promotions that I’ve had for almost ten years providing graphic design, decorating and staging services.
Decorating is a passion of mine and something I plan on providing more of once both of my children are in school. Unfortunately, it takes me away from the house and is more difficult to juggle with children. Being a Mom is my number one priority, so working before the children get up and balancing work time with play time throughout the day is how I handle everything.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?
For the first six months, I was working around 20 hours a day with about four hours of sleep on average. It was an extremely difficult time for me both emotionally and physically as well as a strain on my family. Most of this stress was caused by the developers I had chosen for the project who had built a site that was full of bugs. I was really lucky that I had built a community that was loyal to the concept of Womentorz and believed in my vision.
I have now found an amazing developer, Bear Creek Web, who has completely relieved this stress and helped my vision become a reality. I still work long hours, but it’s on projects that are fulfilling and directed to helping members market their products. Because I usually don’t have childcare you can usually find me on my family room couch with my son Rylie at my side even though I have a home office.
How did you fund your business?
I used some of the money our staffing business was generating as well as a home equity line of credit with a low-interest rate. We lucked out that we got into a house before the big market boom, so our house has built a lot of equity. My rule of thumb is that you should never borrow anything you can’t pay back and should never put your family in financial risk.
How would you rate your success from 0 – 10?
I would rate my success at a five because the site is still new and has a lot of growth ahead, but the most success has been with social networking and meeting amazing people in the process.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I’m a big list person! If it weren't for my list, I would be in big trouble. I also use a lot of color coding in my Outlook Calendar that lets me see where and how I should prioritize. I find the housework to be the biggest struggle. I have a bit of OCD, so if I don’t have the house together, I can’t focus on work. It’s the first thing I do every morning along with my staple cup of coffee. Thank goodness for coffee!
What has been your biggest business struggle?
As I mentioned earlier, finding a good developer has been by far my biggest business struggle. I had no idea getting into this that so many people run into the same problem. So many people proclaim to be web developers, and it’s so easy to be taken advantage of. They charge in the insane amount of money, and it’s your word against theirs.
What are your three favorite websites or blogs?
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Just do it! Don’t try to think things over too much. There’s never a perfect time to start a business. You can start with very little if you have a good plan. You should have a passion and belief in what you are doing. If you don’t believe in yourself how can anyone else believe in you?
If you’re an inventor, don’t be so afraid that someone is going to take your idea. If you don’t get out there and start sharing your product or idea, you risk someone taking your idea just because they got out there first. Time is your worst enemy … not your competition. There’s always room for competition because you can beat them at marketing, quality, and price.