Local inventors start business with a little help

Have a good business idea but need some help getting started?

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is helping local entrepreneurs get a jump start in the world of business.William Brinsdon is the inventor of Seat Buddy, a cooling cushion for truck drivers.

"You open the valve, it goes into the seat buddy and shoots air up the seat of your pants," Brinsdon said.

If you drive truck, you know exactly why a Seat Buddy might be beneficial.

"Loading and unloading it gets really hot, especially here in the valley, so now you got to get your truck and your sweaty, Brinsdon said. "It TMs a great cooling affect with a lot of heat being produced between the driver and the seat."

And Brinsdon says it's a benefit to those he works with too.

"I'm comfortable, cool and dry so when I get to my customer I'm not all worn out, Brinsdon said.

Brinsdon came up with the idea seven years ago but it never would have taken off the ground without help from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

In September, Brinsdon was one of three people to receive a $10,000 innovation grant.

The chamber has awarded 13 grants to local entrepreneurs like Brinsdon over the past five years.

"Just having a great idea is not enough. You need to push; you need to be able to explain its great benefits, Mcallen Chamber of Commerce vice president of business development Eduardo Millet said.

That's why the chamber created the Inventors and Entrepreneurs Network (I&E Network) to give locals a chance to share how to turn ideas into action.

"It TMs not about having ideas, it's about acting on them," Millet said.

Other local inventors in the program have developed items like desert toppings packaging, to platforms that prevent laptops from overheating.

The network helps innovators with the tools they need to develop their idea through using social media, make advertising videos, and find those who will give you the capital you need to start a business.

"It TMs a process. Sometimes we have a great idea. But we need to make sure why people would want to buy it, Millet said.

Thanks to the grant money, Brinsdon now can afford to patent his product and develop a prototype for mass production.

While Brisdon has only sold a couple Seat Buddies that he sewed himself, he hopes to be in steady production in two to three years.

"I want to go global with it. There's trucks, buses, anything with secondary air, Seat Buddy will benefit the driver, Brinsdon said.

If you're interested in joining the I&E Network, meetings are every fourth Thursday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and it's free to the public.