Her Grandmother’s Heartbreaking Illness Inspired Her to Create the Most Wonderful Business

Yao and grandmother
Eatwell on Indiegogo

People often become entrepreneurs after facing a problem, then figuring out how to solve it with a new product.

For San Francisco designer Sha Yao, the problem was how to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia eat more easily. When her late grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease, Yao watched her struggle to feed herself with traditional dishes and flatware.

Inspired by her grandmother, Yao decided to design a better set of eating tools — a commitment that turned her into an entrepreneur.

An Overnight Success That Took Years to Develop

Yao realized that making a few small adjustments, such as creating spoons with wide, curved handles, could help people feed themselves more easily, reports Good.

She volunteered at a senior care facility to note what kinds of adjustments would be most helpful, and launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to support her work. It raised $70,000 by December 2014 — a total that’s now approaching $100,000.

Eatwell won first place in the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge and is currently getting a lot of positive press, which makes it seem like Yao’s product is an overnight success.

However, as Yao explains on her Indiegogo page, it’s taken years of research and development to bring Eatwell to fruition. She’s faced challenges with quality control and manufacturing, and has had to delay reward shipments to her Indiegogo backers.

Entrepreneurs, take note: When you have a truly great idea, it may still take years to see your vision become a reality.

Be prepared to invest time and money into your product as you develop the best version possible. If you are successful, both you and the people your product was designed to benefit will reap the rewards.

Want to know more? Read the full article on Good.

Your Turn: What problem could you solve with an innovative product design?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.