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Ground Floor: Father's invention solves baby monitor dilemma
By Deborah Neyens, correspondent
Oct. 7, 2014 6:00 am
Four weeks before their son was born, Gerald Beranek and his wife encountered a problem of modern-day parenting: where to put the baby monitor.
Beranek's solution led to a new business venture.
'We were getting the nursery ready and the last thing I had to do was hang the camera for the baby monitor,' Beranek recalled. 'I was trying to find the best place for it that would offer the best view of the crib, but I didn't want to put a screw in the wall.'
Having read about the risk of death by strangulation from baby monitor cords, he also did not want to place the monitor on or near the crib.
'I thought there has to be a better way to do this.'
Beranek, who is a mechanical engineer with product design experience, ultimately used his 3-D printer to solve the dilemma.
'I did a quick design of an angled corner shelf, 3-D printed it and hung it using 3M Command strips so it could be removed without damaging the wall,' he said.
Baby Levi arrived in March, and other new parents who came to see the baby took note of the little shelf holding the baby monitor camera that was stuck in a corner of the nursery. They wanted to know where they could get one.
Beranek began selling his design, which he named the Vusee Universal Baby Monitor Shelf, on Etsy and eBay. Demand grew based on word-of-mouth, and he sold around 100 shelves in little more than a month without doing any advertising.
'The 3-D printer was running non-stop,' Beranek said.
In May, Beranek went into full production and began selling an injection molded version of the Vusee through his own website.
In June, he quit his job and took his patent-pending design to the New York Baby Show. There, the Vusee gained national recognition when online magazine The Bump named it one of the hot new products of the show.
Beranek said the Vusee now hangs in more than 700 nurseries around the country.
The plastic shelf is produced in Guttenberg, Iowa, and assembled, packed and shipped by Beranek out of his North Liberty home.
In addition to direct sales through his website, Beranek ships wholesale orders across the U.S., thanks to retail connections he made at another convention, the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. Total sales are about 1,500 units.
His next goal is to attract the interest of big-box retailers.
At a Glance
- Owner: Gerald Beranek
- Business: Vusee
- Email: Gerald.Beranek@vusee.co
- Phone: (319) 512-9954
- Website: www.vusee.co
Know of a company in business for less than a year that would be ideal for 'Ground Floor'? Contact George Ford at email@example.com.