By Stephen J. Kotz
Like many young children these days, Matt Mogol’s 2-year-old daughter loves watching videos on Daddy’s laptop or talking to Grandma via Skype, but when little Penelope gets excited, she likes to pound on the keys. Sometimes, when she inadvertently shuts down the movie she is watching, the tears flow. Sometimes, when she pulls a key off the keyboard or spills her juice on his laptop, Daddy feels like crying too.
Fortunately, though, Mr. Mogol is an inventive sort. Instead of taking the computer away from Penny, he started brainstorming solutions. He found one in a piece of leftover plastic that he had fashioned into a cover that slips over the open laptop screen and secures to the keyboard, creating a flat surface that is impervious to a child’s hands, drink or food.
It wasn’t long before Mr. Mogol, who is also of an entrepreneurial bent, saw a business opportunity. When he was out with Penny and he set up the prototype of the product he has named the Kid Lid, strangers asked him where they could get one. He got a patent for his invention and began working with friends in the business world to come up with a marketing campaign for his new company, Mogolo, and hopes to have the product, which will sell for about $30, in stores as early as Christmas.
“I’m really trying to create a brand that makes technology safe not only for the child but for the device, which are expensive and fragile,” he said this week.
“Not only is it a board to protect my computer, but it has allowed me to introduce technology to my daughter and not use the word ‘no,’” he added, noting that he wants to give his daughter autonomy, but when he hovers over her because he is worried she will damage the computer, it sends a conflicting message.
Like many modern entrepreneurs, Mr. Mogol turned to Kickstart.com to try to raise money for his product. Although it appears he will fall short of his goal to raise $17,500—his campaign ends today, July 31—he said the experience has provided him with invaluable feedback from would-be consumers about everything from the color they would like to the sizes they think he should make.
Mr. Mogol is already brainstorming other products such as a keyboard cover with oversized keys that would make it easier for young children to use a computer or smaller Kid Lids that would fit on cellular telephones or devices like iPads.
He is also negotiating with stores ranging from GeekHampton in Sag Harbor to the national chain Target to carry Kid Lids once the logistics are figured out.
Mr. Mogol was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and studied business at Babson College outside Boston. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he eventually launched his own cosmetics and body products firm, focusing on private labels for the hotel industry.
He later joined the company of a friend who had a digital marketing company, where he was in charge of business development. “We tried to really understand what their problems were as opposed to just providing marketing, he said. “And then we’d work to solve their problems through technology.
Mr. Mogol found himself on the East End about four years ago. “I found myself asking, ‘What am I going to do for work?,’” he said. “Go into real estate, open a restaurant, become a mailman?”
Now that Mogolo is getting off the ground, Mr. Mogol said he hoped he could base his company in Sag Harbor. “I can see myself in Sag Harbor,” he said, “becoming an employer,” hiring sales and customer service staff to work here.
In the meantime, though, he said he would enjoy spending as much time as possible with Penny. “If I’m busy and need a few minutes to fold the laundry, a little Mickey Mouse does the trick,” he said.