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Meet the Maker: Barry Freeder of CouchCoaster

In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

Today we're catching up with Barry Freeder, the inventor of CouchCoaster–an adaptable drink holder that drapes over the arm of your favorite place to sit. Its weighted sides keep your glass balanced and secure. 

CouchCoaster

First UK consumer show (March 2016)

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I spent much of my time on creative pursuits like drawing, painting and ‘inventing’, although the latter was generally confined to building marble contraptions from whatever my mum was about to throw out. Looking back, these were early signs of a passion for design, however, I was also obsessed with playing soccer, and like many teenagers wanted to one day imitate my heroes on the soccer pitch!

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Follow your passion and not a career path. You’ll spend most of your life working so understand what motivates you most of all in life. Start by identify your talents and try and turn them into a rewarding job or entrepreneurial venture. Have confidence in yourself and your ideas, but don’t get lost in the emotions or romance of building anything from scratch unless you can objectively say it has a solid foundation.

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Barry with the owners of two factories he works with in China (April 2016)

What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
1) Being an ‘all-rounder’ (any start-up will know that you become just about every ‘department’ of a larger corporation when you create your own business)
2) Perseverance (having bullet-proof skin really helps in the face of adversity!)
3) Meticulous attention to detail (because there are so many pitfalls in running a business that you really can’t afford to slip up too often).

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First cardboard prototype of CouchCoaster (Nov 2010)

What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Identifying how to spend your time wisely is absolutely critical. Do the things that you can do easily that play to your strengths, and ensure anything which does not or that slows you down is left to someone else. It is easy to overlook how much time you spend on tasks when starting out but it will become more and more important to strike the right balance as your business grows. Finding a mentor and growing a network of contacts to call upon for advice is also really helpful.

What has surprised you most about starting a business?
Aside from creating a product like CouchCoaster, I have come to realize that I also enjoy the day to day (operational) side of running a business. I had thought that anything other than designing, marketing and sales would simply be a chore, but actually the variety of ownership you have in overseeing all matters related to your business (and keeping them in check), is a rewarding experience in itself!

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Barry has to store stock of CouchCoaster in his 'spare bedroom' (March 2016)

What has been the most rewarding part of business for you?
‘Selling’ CouchCoaster in all senses of the word has definitely been the most rewarding aspect of my business so far. From reading the latest online review for CouchCoaster, selling my product to members of the public, or creating a new retail/distribution partnership, gives me a great sense of pride in my invention–particularly when I remind myself of its humble beginnings as cardboard prototype almost seven years ago!

Barry Quote

How has business changed since launching with The Grommet? How has our community helped your business grow?
Partnering with The Grommet has been a huge boost to my business. It has provided credibility in terms of my company being able to fulfill large-scale international orders within just months of launching CouchCoaster in the UK, and has undoubtedly played a part in winning over other retailers and distributors with CouchCoaster as well. Thank you to all members of the community who have backed my product–you have all played a part in helping me to grow my business further!

Anything else you'd like to share?
Be brave and don’t give up on your own product ideas!

 

To purchase or to learn more about CouchCoaster watch our video, here

Comments

  • Barbara green Says:

    One of my couch coasters is always on the seat of myRollator walker to transport my cold or hot drink from kitchen to living room or bedroom..not enough hands and this is so secure!

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