Two Cape Coral students are now in a national on-line contest for their inventions. Each worked separately with their mother and each has a separate business - with their own website and patents pending.
The contest is called Get On The Shelf and is sponsored by Wal-Mart, which invited businesses and individuals to submit products that are not sold by Wal-Mart. The firm is going to let the public vote for their favorites.
There will be three winners, getting a shot at selling on Walmart.com and enjoying valuable free marketing support. The grand prize winning product could be carried by Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar stores, too.
The local family includes 13-year-old Austin Lovell who invented the Reflective Mailbox, and eight-year-old Lauren Lovell, who invented Snap Shoe Chainz, and mother Audrey Lovell.
They entered in February (entry is now closed) and were welcomed into the contest, and are now asking for your vote - online or by text - now through April 3. It will help them move on to the second round, with the top 10.
Here is what they penned for their entries:
For Austin "Created by a 12 year old student (he was 12 at the time) the reflective mailbox will solve the nighttime dilemma of drivers running into your mailbox at night."
For Lauren: "The first charm bracelet for your shoe! Children can mix and match our specially made shoe snaps, shoe chain colors and custom made charms for a one-of-a-kind fashion accessory."
You can vote for them online at getontheshelf.com - with links to www.getontheshelf.com/product/5011/Reflective-Mailbox and www.getontheshelf.com/product/4810/Snap-Shoe-Chainz.
That takes you to a Facebook page, but it's easier to vote by text or through their own websites, Audrey said.
Their websites are ReflectiveMailbox.com and SnapShoeChainz.com, which tells more of their stories and has text and voting information.
Of Austin, Audrey said, "He's always had an interest in the science fairs at schools, and this was his first year in the Inventors Fair. We are all members of the Edison Inventors Association and include meetings with the children. So this has allowed them to expand their knowledge and ideas of what's possible."
Lauren also has the knack and interest.
They are both in the patent process. "It's not as costly as people think."
"Having the idea is the easy part of the inventions, then comes the harder part of the invention process which is creating the actual product," Audrey said. "Part of that is trial and error with many different prototypes."
Of Lauren, she said, "She was very active in the entire process from molding different products out of clay at first, fitting them on different types of shoes to make sure they worked, researching the different materials that would work best and helping with the precise measurements that are needed."
"I liked working with my mom on the project," Lauren said. "I want to invent more things in the future, with fashion. My favorite part was getting to create the name. I'd like to see other people wear my invention, like my friends wear the product, and maybe, go to Disney and see people I don't know wearing them."
Statistics are one of Austin's fortes.
"There were approximately 1,000 injuries and 34 deaths in four states in one year.
"I was thinking this invention could possibly save lives. And if you really think about it, you could save money because if someone keeps replacing their mailbox it could save money because all you have to do is buy one mailbox. "
He also enjoyed working with his mom with this, he said.
"This is my first big invention but I'm hoping to think of more ideas that could go along with saving money or lives."
Theses are two separate family businesses, besides their parents' regular jobs.
The mailboxes are being produced right now, and they can be purchased through the website or by phone at 573-6717. Lauren's are in the final production stage so not yet available.
"We're hoping Wal-Mart contest can help with that," Audrey said.