Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Lance Reasor's invention started with a simple toasty idea from a friend.
"She would take her pajamas, put them on top of the wood burner, kind of toss them back and forth and get them warmed up and put 'em on it," Reasor said.
With that, the "Pajama Warmer" was born.
"This is the bag," he told Kevin Jacobsen. "This is our little polar bear with PJ bottoms warming them over the fire."
Reasor is quick to admit his product's success didn't happen over night.
"It takes a long time to get a product to go from conception to actually getting it made and landed here in Duluth," he said."
Reasor turned to the Internet and a local group called The Twin Ports Inventors and Entrepreneurs group for help.
"We try to bring in speakers who can help explain how to go about the process of either getting a patent or developing and marketing their ideas," said Julianne Raymond, the director of the Small Business Development Center at UWS.
Raymond says inventing can be convoluted and troublesome, especially if you don't keep the idea to yourself. Twin Cities Patent Attorney Richard Billion says it's best to stay quiet.
"They say if it happens, you let it out publicly, you're done, you can't get it patented, it's a public thing."
Billion says as soon as you have an idea you think will be successful, do your research and apply for a patent.
"What a patent allows you to do is to take that property, fence it off and prevent others from making, using or selling your invention."
A quick Internet search is all it takes to find similar patents. Both The US Patent and Trade Office website and Google Patents have large databases containing documents.
"Once you apply for the patent, now you have certain rights, that come springing up, no one can then steal it or whatever," Billion said.
Billion says it can typically take two to three years to get a patent processed. And not only does it take time, it also takes money. Raymond says expect to dig in to your own pocket to get started - but there is help along the way.
"There are funding sources throughout the system where usually banks are the last source of help, there are venture capitalists, and we have an angel network in this area as well."
With nearly 45,000 pajama warmers sold across the nation and an expanded product line, Lance Reasor's little "snug" idea is on the verge of going world-wide. He offers advice to fellow inventors.
"If you have a dream, go for it. There's a lot of people I know at these meeting that they have an idea and are afraid to tell anybody about it. They'll probably end up taking it to the grave."
He says that's because their bright idea never saw the light of day.
Resources for future inventors.
Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen