Dawn Firsing-Paris is a living proof to the common belief that if you need to get something done, ask a busy woman.
A few months ago, with two jobs as well as two young children, Firsing-Paris took on another challenge – inventing a new product. Not only did she do it, but she also won the highly coveted approval and mentorship of super “shark” entrepreneur and investor Barbara Corcoran.
What pushed this mid-forties mom into the entrepreneurial world? The frustration of cleaning after her kids’ sticky mess after they enjoyed their favorite frozen treat.
“With the [kids] eating these ice pops and ice cream and having this drippy sticky mess all over the floors and outside, I kind of felt there’s got to be a better way,” says Firsing-Paris.
Tired of washrags and paper towels, Firisng-Paris decided to figure out a way to prevent the dripping all together.
After extensive research, she came up with her idea for Dripsters – colorful compressed sponges in fun shapes that slide up the ice cream stick to soak up the drips. As the ice pop melts, the compressed sponge soaks in the liquid, and expands. The sponge can then be washed and reused.
She started exploring who could produce her Dripster. “I went on this website called AliBaba and it has all different companies from all over the world that can make differently things. I went looking for a sponge factory and then I just started emailing people saying: can you make this?”
After a few months, Firsing-Paris realized that the factories would only produce the sponges in large quantities. The numbers they required held her back from turning her idea into a reality.
Then, a trip to Disney Land changed her mind. “It was 90 degrees out and my son was eating this giant ice cream on a stick,” says Firising-Paris. “It was melting everywhere. It was all over him, it was all over the ground.” The experience made her determined to pursue her idea, even if she had to “use all 12,000 myself.”
She placed her order with a factory in China, found an ink plant in Kentucky that produces non-toxic inks, and shortly, she had thousands of Dripsters delivered to her house. Now she had her dream product but could she sell it?
Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran Swims In
“Barbara Corcoran happens to be my favorite shark and I wanted her opinion. So I went on her website and just sent her an email ‘what do you think of this product?’”
After a couple of weeks of silence, Firsing-Paris received an email from Corcoran’s assistant inviting her to a mini shark tank competition on the ABC’s daytime show The Revolution.
“I was hoping I wasn’t going to forget what to say and hoping that she would like the idea,” said Firsing-Paris.
Corcoran not only liked the idea, but she picked Firsing-Paris as the winner of the competition and awarded her a $5,000 check towards the promotion of Dripsters. (Watch episode below.)
And this mom inventor also won over a shark’s heart as Corcoran has taken Firsing-Paris under her wing mentoring her via Skype calls. “Barbara is fabulous. She’s going to tell you exactly what she thinks and what she can do. I love working with her,” says Firsing-Paris.
The experience has convinced her that having a mentor is a must in every start-up. “Someone who has experience and that can help you every step of the way and that can have some connections and give you good advice, that’s what you need.”
She says the experience of starting her own company, after years of working as a Registered Nurse, has been a refreshing change. “I never thought that I would own my own business or create something. I’m ready for a new adventure and to try new things. It’s definitely been fun”
Dawn Firsing-Paris shared her story with us on Your Story Exchange, a place where business owners talk about their start up experiences. Share your story and read others.