When John Whitcomb came up with an idea that air cells on the outer surface of a helmet could reduce concussions, he thought this would be a slam dunk idea on the fast track to success. However, the road from idea to product isn’t that short.
Whitcomb Technologies – BizStarts Entrepreneur Member
Concussions are big news. Mothers are worried about their kids playing contact sports. Athletes are retiring early for fear of injury and long term effects. When John Whitcomb came up with an idea that air cells on the outer surface of a helmet could reduce concussions and with testing proving these reductions at 80%, he thought this would be a slam dunk idea on the fast track to success. John applied for and secured several patents to protect the idea.
However, the road from idea to product isn’t that short. The steps in between are a lot more numerous than just conceiving a concept. How do you manufacture robust air cells that don’t pop? How do you make them curve over a surface like the scalp? How do you make them look “rugged” or stylish? How do you get over regulatory hurdles? After the product, next there is building a company, finding a factory, making machines, and even simply hiring a CEO.
That’s when John came to Bizstarts and asked for help. Provided with Dennis Torrko as a mentor, John began to assemble a list of strategies that needed to be accomplished: make a prototype, define a market, choose a first product, test it’s appeal, find a CEO, find investors, write a business plan, and find a legal team. Above all, he had to decide which would be his first priorities. Each of these steps has had a success story, followed by a curve ball and a setback. But now, in August, each has shown progress.
“I’m a doctor in a private practice, not a business CEO,” John says. “It all starts with Bizstarts. Without their help and guidance, I’d still be a doctor with a private practice and three patents without much direction. I’m most interested in whether Wisconsin can help define an idea, develop it and whether the will power exists to make something new here in Wisconsin. I think it does.” He notes that the path of an entrepreneur is up and down and needs time to mature: “In a complex world, we need help to get over all the intricacies of legal obligations, fiduciary responsibility, and patent protections.” John understands that while ups are always attached to downs, good entrepreneurs are never deterred.