Frustrated with cleaning up after the kids in the bathroom after brushing their teeth, Port Elizabeth house mom Amelia Boggenpoel pitched in 2007 what seemed to be a silly idea at the time – that of inventing a toothpaste dispenser to husband Vernon.
Inspired by her all too common experiences as a stay at home mom, constantly cleaning up after spilt toothpaste all over her bathroom, Amelia came up with a bright idea of a toothpaste dispenser that would not only dispense 99% of the content, but would also hamper the “nightmarish right of toothpaste spilt all over the place after the kids had used the bathroom.”
Since then Amelia had the task of first convincing her husband that the idea was practical and subsequently having to sell the idea to various funders, retailers and investors. Although some have been skeptical of the idea, the Boggenpoels have thrown everything they have into turning the idea into a resounding success.
Amelia began working on the concept for the dispenser, initially designing one from wood; but later settling for plastic as the ideal material. Their determination resulted in the Boggenpoels producing some 1 000 dispensers with positive reviews from the market.
“I proposed the idea to my husband and he embraced the invention. Together, we then dedicated our focus into making a success of the idea, so much so that last year we sold our house to invest into the idea.
“Determined to see through the invention, we eventually approached a designer, Andrew Gilmore, who sketched the final concept. On completion, the design was sent to a China-based manufacturer, Huli Xiamen Duchy Industrial Designs.co.Ltd, which created the first prototype” says Amelia.
On receipt of the prototype, the Boggenpoels went on to approach the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) for assistance with the development of moulds; upon which they later went on to manufacture samples of the toothpaste dispenser.
“The Boggenpoels came to us with a prototype, to which we offered industrial trial support which entailed developing the moulds. In addition to this, we provided business support, in other words; product packaging and access to markets, which amounted to R200 000,” says ECDC business advisor, Wendy Hempe.
A total of 100 samples were distributed to consumers on trial and upon receiving positive feedback from the users, the Boggenpoels advanced to mass production. They then approached a locally-based plastic manufacturer in hope of selling the proudly South African product to renowned retailers.
Nearly 1 000 dispensers were produced, from which just over 250 were sold. The targeted retailers showed little interest in the product, reasoning that they did not have a market for it as yet.
“Our enthusiasm and plans were almost vanquished by the lack of response from the targeted retailers as each door we knocked on seemed like a dead end. Although we have approached a number of them without any positive feedback, we are still very optimistic about our invention,” says Amelia.
In an effort to get the patented product to the market, the Boggenpoels have been setting up promotional stalls at local malls, selling their product to willing consumers. The feedback received bore proof that the concept had enough potential.
“We have received great reviews from our niche market so far; with most telling us what a wonderful concept this was and how it had improved their homes, has really been encouraging,” Amelia adds.
Hempe says that she hopes to see the project securing a bigger market, in the form of outlets such as Game, Dischem, Clicks, etc. “ECDC support for the project could result in a factory being built, funded by our investment unit which would result in job creation within the province,” she says.
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