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USU graduate launches 'Lost Socks' campaign

By Sarah Romero
On March 19, 2014

The solution for perpetually freezing feet may be in the near future for USU students.

Recent USU graduate Bryan LaBar launched a Kickstarter campaign for his invention “Lost Socks,” and wants student’s help to make his idea a reality.

LaBar described his product as a pair of sweatpants attached to foot slippers that can be rolled up inside the pant leg.

“It’s just really convenient because you can put the slipper on and you can actually go outside to do something,” said Chase Casillas, LaBar’s roommate last year and self-proclaimed product tester for Lost Socks.

According to its website, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects such as films, games, technology, art and more. Anyone can create and upload a project to it. If people like the idea, they can pledge money to help the creator make it happen.

“People have great ideas all the time, but the biggest barrier of entry is often the capital behind that idea,” LaBar said. “With Kickstarter, you pay a small fee for them hosting the website and getting your name out there. You find out all the costs that are going to be associated with your first purchase order, and you market and advertise it like you already have the product.”

LaBar said if the project fails to fund within the given time, the pledger’s credit cards aren’t charged. If it is funded, the creator has 90 days to complete the order, or the money is returned to the pledgers.

The idea for Lost Socks came to LaBar during his involvement with USU’s Entrepreneurship Club last year.

“I met some guys who had a lot of great ideas and they gave me some advice,” he said. “They told me you could find opportunities everywhere, so really I just started to look around.”

LaBar said the “cold, dingy apartment” he inhabited during one of Logan’s colder winters inspired him to create a product to keep his feet warm.

“The people I was surrounded by at the time were mostly students living in cold apartments,” he said. “I noticed that a lot of them would pull their sweatpants down over their toes, and kind of grip them, so the idea for Lost Socks was born.”

LaBar decided to pitch his idea in the 2013 Elevator Pitch Contest hosted by USU.

“I was pretty nervous because I was going up against some people who had some fantastic ideas,” he said. “I actually tied for first with a guy who came up with a quick-connect coupling device for use in hospitals and stuff like that. To me, it blew my invention out of the water.”

LaBar said he thinks the feasibility of his idea actually becoming a small business helped him to win.

“And I think I maybe had practiced my pitch a little bit more than him,” he said.

LaBar used the money he won from the competition to develop intellectual property rights, start an LLC, create a patent for his product and make some prototypes of his invention.

“I developed a relationship with a manufacturer in China,” he said. “The rest of the money was used to make samples.”

LaBar said he has five or six different samples. Some are the basic samples he personally made from existing sweatpants and fabric from Wal-Mart. The other samples were manufactured in China as quality control prototypes.

“I’ve been wearing and washing them to see how they hold up,” LaBar said. “As soon as I have the money to place my purchase order, I’ll send it to China and they’ll manufacture it and send them back.”

LaBar said the manufacturer requires him to order at least 2,000 sweatpants.

“That takes a lot of money,” he said.

LaBar’s project will only be funded if at least $16,000 is pledged by Sunday, March 30. As of Monday, $3,227 is pledged.

“I want students to know about the campaign and I’d absolutely love their support,” LaBar said. “But I’d also want them to know that I got my support from the Entrepreneurship Club at Utah State. Really, that’s where I developed these first relationships and where I got the nerve to actually start my own business.”

He said if he’d presented his idea to other students in classes who didn’t understand entrepreneurship, they probably would have laughed at him.

“And in all honesty, I’ve gotten laughed at quite a few times for the idea,” LaBar said. “I guess succeeding is more about perseverance rather than immediate gratification.”

Casillas said students should donate to LaBar’s campaign because it is a product college students can use and relate to.

“It’s a product you can use while you’re in college,” he said. “Most likely, you know what it’s like to be cold and to have a poor housing situation as a student where you’d need something like this to keep warm.”

LaBar said he’s proud of what he’s accomplished so far, with what little resources he has.

“I’m passionate about it because I’ve worked on it and put in the time,” he said. “I don’t think that prior to this I was ever this passionate about pajamas.”

Students can donate to LaBar’s campaign by visiting kickstarter.com and searching for “Lost Socks,” or by typing in the URL: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/647012072/lost-socks?ref=search.

sarah.men@aggiemail.usu.edu

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