The child safety seat market is about to welcome a new product that could change the industry because of its compactness and portability. Parents are already buying into the excitement. It's amassed 18,000 pre-sale units, and a crowd-funding campaign onIndiegogohas raised nearly 15 times its initial goal.
Mifold, The Grab-and-Go booster seat,is its name. It's the brainchild of Jon Sumroy, an Israel-based Brit who initially had the idea for it way back in 2000, while living in the United States. The father of three realized that his children were often without booster seats when in the care of others – and he didn't much like that. He thought there must be a better option than the large, stationary booster seats that were incompatible with his children's active lifestyle. Unfortunately, he was too busy at the time to develop an alternative.
The mifold is so small it's nearly undetectable. (Photo: mifold)
Fast forward 12 years and Sumroy was finally spurred into action after reading a newspaper article about how half of all children in the U.S. go without booster seats when carpooling, mostly because it is too inconvenient to carry the large, clunky objects around.
"I thought that if after 12 years nobody had solved the problem yet, then maybe there was a business that could be made on the back of it," he told From The Grapevine. "And I had a bit of time on my hands so I decided to start playing around."
The booster seat's size is not a faulty design: it is meant to be large. The idea is that it raises the child into the position of an adult, so that the seatbelt will fit them. In order to reduce the size of the seat Sumroy had to come up with a whole new concept.
"I thought well, if we don't want it to be big, and to put the child into the position of the adult, then what can we do? And that was the mental leap." He decided that instead of lifting the child up, he would hold the seatbelt down.
Sumroy made a prototype and took it into a crash test center in Great Britain.
"If I'm being honest they were kind of laughing at me when I walked in there. But I think to everybody's surprise it worked really well," he said. "They called all their colleagues in to watch the crash test video that was made. And that really kicked me off by showing me that my idea could actually work."
Sumroy, who originally moved to Israel in the mid-1990s for work, and has lived there on and off ever since, decided to return to the country to set up shop. He teamed with an industrial designer and mechanical engineer there and soon had his business up and running.
The mifold is set to be shipped by the first quarter of 2016. Final testing will be conducted later this year. It's likely just a formality given that prototypes have proven effective and comply with U.S. and European Union safety standards, according to Sumroy. It will initially be available for purchase online, but Sumroy said the intention is to sell mifold wherever possible, with a focus on the American market. If the reaction of parents so far is anything to go by, he shouldn't have a problem with that.
The mifold is portable and can easily fit into a backpack or glove compartment. (Photo: mifold)
"This booster seat is amazing. Anything with a smaller profile is an enormous help, especially if you have more than one kid," Ashley Primis, a co-founder of the Philadelphia-based parenting blogWee Wandertold From The Grapevine. "But for people who travel a lot or city dwellers like myself, the ability to put it in a rental car, car orUberis a game changer for getting around town."
The mifold will retail for $39.99. At that price point Sumroy hopes parents will be able to justify purchasing one even if they have a booster seat already.
"What we're seeing is that people who have a booster seat are buying one of these as well," Sumroy said. "They're buying into my logic which is that it's a great supplement for getting home from school or driving around with the grandparents or avoiding the astronomical fees that come with getting a booster seat with a rental car."
The price is roughly the same as a no-back booster seat and well below that of a high-back booster seat.
However you plan to use it, Sumroy really has only one objective, and that's to ensure that your child is safe whenever traveling in a car.