Antwaine Debnam, Founder of Tripletote launched a 60-day Kickstarter on May 26 to help fund his aspiring startup.
Innovation Destination Hartford: Tell us more about Tripletote. When and why did you create the product? How did you develop the business concept?
DEBNAM: The Tripletote™ is a patented, hands-free multi-tote for people who carry multiple things as they travel, commute, and shop. I came up with the idea for the product in 2011. My mom was a nurse for 40 years headed toward retirement (she’s retired now). She has arthritis in both hands but would still carry her pocketbook, lunch, and medicine bag to work each day. I said to myself: There has to be a better way. And the Tripletote was born. I call it “the extra set of hands we all wish we had.”
<IDH: How does your product work?
DEBNAM: The Tripletote is a hands-free tote that is an organizer for your body. The product features three hand-shaped (trapezoid) hooks for carrying things. You wear the Tripletote by placing the shoulder strap over the shoulder opposite of the side of the body with items you’re carrying. Those items are held by hooks that are attached to a base called a “saddle.” These hooks are spring loaded to securely hold almost anything you can think of.
When you’re not wearing the Tripletote, it folds up and is small enough to put in your pocket or pocketbook.
IDH: What makes your product unique?
DEBNAM: The Tripletote is different from other products simply because of the wide variety of things it can carry. The hand-shaped hooks on the Tripletote can hold pocketbooks, shopping bags, grocery bags, laptop bags, umbrellas, sneakers (by their laces), luggage, neck pillow, headphones, etc. (We actually have a list of 101 Things the Tripletote can hold.)
All other “bag carriers” aren’t nearly as useful because they are only designed to carry one thing—grocery store plastic bags. Also, you still have the pain and strain of holding these products in your hand while the product is holding your bags. What makes the Tripletote unique is that it can carry so many different things, it has a shoulder strap, so it’s hands-free, and it folds up for easy storage.
IDH: Where do you see your company in the next few years?
DEBNAM: In the next few years, I plan to grow my company in the number of different Tripletote products we offer and the revenue the company generates.
I’m planning a customer-centric business that does four things well:
- Make products our customers love and need.
- Market these products to customers for feedback and improvement.
- Manage supply chain to ensure the product is visible and getting to our customer efficiently.
- Massively engage (mainly social media) with our customers to learn what new/better products they want us to make.
IDH: How have Connecticut’s startup resources help to shape your business?
DEBNAM: My most notable accomplishment in receiving Connecticut resources for my business has to be my presentation of the Tripletote at Yale University, which was hosted by Connecticut Innovations. I pulled a stunt to drive home the usefulness of the product by taking off my shoes on stage and hanging them on the Tripletote along with a matching bag. I won the Entrepreneur Innovation Award, the Judges Choice Award, and the Angel Investor’s Choice Award.
I’ve also benefited greatly from working with the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC). They’re a huge asset—they make you ask yourself questions about your next steps and then help you find resources to fulfill those next steps.
The other resource I’ve benefited from in Connecticut has been reSET. They have a mentor program that includes successful inventors who I’ve learned from.
IDH: Any advice for entrepreneurs or startup business owners?
DEBNAM: The best advice I could offer any startup is to find your strengths then come up with a product or service that represents those strengths and joyfully pursue it.
Learn more about Tripletote at https://tripletote.com.