Emily Leber / For The Post
When students do laundry, they can be stuck having to juggle their laundry basket, detergent, dryer sheets and fabric softener while walking up or down flights of stairs or outside to a different building. Four individuals saw that and wanted to create a product that could hold laundry items in one container.
During the Startup Weekend Athens event at the Ohio University Innovation Center in 2015, Josh Coury, a 2016 OU alumnus; Patrick Kelley, sophomore studying marketing; Lori Bentz, a 2016 OU alumna; and Anna Sowash, an order fulfillment specialist at Ecolibrium Solar in Athens, took third place with the Laundropack, a container designed to carry laundry supplies, such as detergent, dryer sheets and fabric softener.
Kelley said the product is slightly larger than the average water bottle and holds a two-month supply of all materials necessary to complete the average laundry cycle, including detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. It also has a lid that serves as a dispenser.
“We decided to participate in Startup Weekend simply because we heard how fun and accelerated the weekend was developing a business concept as much as possible in just 72 hours,” Kelley said.
Startup weekends are often global and give individuals the opportunity to come together and create new inventions or ideas. The OU Innovation Center has hosted six startup weekend events since 2012.
Kelley had the thought of the Laundropack a few days before the Startup Weekend, which made Coury decide to join in, allowing the two to work together for the first time since meeting in the OU Entrepreneurs club. The team then had 72 hours to finish its product and present it to a group of judges.
“I think we developed a pretty complete prototype for Startup Weekend given the time and resources that were available to us for the weekend,” Kelley said. “Our team really came together in a short amount of time to earn third place and crowd favorite.”
After Startup Weekend, Coury and Kelley decided to keep moving forward with their invention, by surveying more than 300 students at 30 universities throughout the country to validate the necessity for their product on college campuses. After multiple prototype variations and countless meetings with mentors and professors, they filed for a provisional patent in August 2016. They are currently working toward obtaining a utility and design patent.
The team’s hope is that college students across the nation will be able to see the need and importance of their product and use it in their laundry routine. They don’t have a set timeline for when the product will be released, but the hope is to have it out soon, Kelley said.
Coury and Kelley are currently in discussion with a logo licensing company, manufacturer and a nationwide merchandise retailer with the goal of establishing a licensing agreement. Their hope is to have their product in stores by the upcoming Fall Semester.
“Moving forward with the concept, I think I am most excited to actually closing a deal,” Kelley said. “After countless hours of prototyping, business modeling and meetings and calls with professors, the dream in my mind has always been to achieve that moment of walking into a large retailer and picking our product up off of the shelf.”
Photos provided via Patrick Kelly
Developed by: Kevin Pan / For The Post