June 24, 2016

Mostly sunny

Business beat: Happy Blankie is one ‘big idea’ for local youth


Staff Writer

David Holdridge is one of the few 8-year-olds in the world who has a portfolio for his inventions.

Sitting in his Medina living room, David picked up his blue plastic folder, which is labeled “David’s Portfolio” in an 8-year-old’s scribble — and withdrew plans for his newest invention. This one, he said, is going to go all the way.

It’s called Happy Blankie and, as David explains it, “It’s a very soft blankie with a very soft animal face.” David plans to sell the blanket in varying bright colors and in the shapes of a frog, pig, cat, bear, dog, hippopotamus and lion. On the back of each blanket, he plans to have the letter the animal’s name begins with.

David Holdridge came up with his latest invention, Happy Blankie, after his mom asked the 8-year-old and his 14-year-old brother to come up with ideas for a summer business. The blankie is a very soft blanket with an animal face on the front and the letter the animal’s name begins with on the back. The Medina resident plans to produce Happy Blankies in the shapes of a frog, pig, cat, bear, dog, hippopotamus and lion. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)

The idea came about when David’s mother, Emily, asked David and his 14-year-old brother, Matthew, to come up with ideas for a summer business.

“They were maybe going to do cookie sales or clean up the neighbors’ yards,” Emily said.

But David, she said, always has bigger plans.

“He’s always had product ideas since he was four. … He’s very into business. Always has been,” Emily said.

“My ‘A-ha moment’ came to me when I was looking at stuffed animals and blankets,” David said.

David drew up some plans for Happy Blankie and brought it to his parents. The Holdridge family then made a prototype of the blanket — a green frog, made of soft plush fabric.

The family then took out their camcorder and allowed David to explain his new invention. They sent the tape to one of David’s favorite shows — “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch on CNBC. The show often features entrepreneurs and tests out their ideas.

On March 31, the show aired David’s tape, in which the second-grade student at Ella Canavan Elementary School pitched his idea to the show’s host.

“It’s your little kid’s new best friend,” David said on the tape.

Since the airing, the Holdridge family has been working on producing more prototypes, which will be sent to “The Big Idea.” Emily said they will test the products and she hopes they will then have David on the show to discuss them and go over the results of the marketing tests.

But the Holdridges are not letting the progress stop while the show does the tests.

“We already have a manufacturer in China lined up,” Emily said. She explained the manufacturer needs a $9,000 to $10,000 order before they begin producing the Happy Blankie line.

So to get the word out, they have created a Happy Blankie Web site, HappyBlankie.com.

Emily said David helped with every aspect of the Web site, including Happy Blankie’s logo that features vibrant colors and a bouncing letter font that David picked out.

“Everything he has a say in and we know when he doesn’t like something because he’ll say it,” Emily said.

And David plans to get in front of the camera to promote his new product.

“I would like to have a Web show, sort of a talk show,” David said. As he sees it, his talk show “D-Bob” would feature David answering questions from young children about inventing.

“He wanted to do that so he could have a voice with Happy Blankie,” Emily said.

Emily explained much of David’s business sense comes from watching his mother with her business — an Internet gift store called Red Carpet Gift Boutique (WalkRed.com). But she said David is a lot more laid back about his new business than she is about hers.

“What’s so great about it is he’s not anxious about it. He never worries about what’s going to happen,” Emily said. “I really believe he’s on to something. I really think this is marketable.”

But even if it doesn’t work out, said David’s dad, Zach, David will have learned from the experience.

“This is something he’s going to remember forever. He’s always going to have it,” Zach said.

Port authority

For the third time since the organization’s inception four years ago, the Medina County Port Authority (MCPA) is backing a building project in Medina County.

Using bonds from the Summit County Port Authority, the MCPA will finance a $6 million building for Digestive Disease Consultants of Medina on Industrial Parkway North in Brunswick. Construction will begin soon on a 40,000-square-foot facility for the medical practice that offers gastroenterology, endoscopy and hepatology services.

MCPA Administrator Jim Doutt explained Digestive Disease Consultants approached the MCPA when the group was looking for financing opportunities for the project.

“I guess that’s good because that means the word is getting out there that this type of financing is available to companies,” he said.

Doutt said the bonds from the Summit County Port Authority feature fixed-rate financing for 15- to 30-year periods and are available for various industrial, commercial, charitable and public projects. Digestive Disease Consultants’ bond features a fixed interest rate for 20 years.

Doutt said it is up to the company when it begins construction.

“It still holds true that the customer dictates the construction,” he said.

The MCPA also backed a new municipal building in 2005 for Seville on Royal Crest Drive and in 2006 it supported a manufacturing facility for Superior Roll Forming in Liverpool Township.

“I’m real pleased because the port authority has… three projects in the pipeline and they’re all in different parts of the county,” Doutt said.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or business@ohio.net.