Once the idea was born, the next logical step was to start doing as much research as possible. I needed to understand a few things. First of all I wanted to know if there were already other similar products for sale. I did the searches necessary to find a few cheap looking pillows on Etsy and Amazon. None of them had the realistic shape I wanted, and none were made of real high quality materials like the memory foam we use. I also came across the boob sex toy category. These are dense, waterproof, latex materials used for masturbating. The shapes of these are fantastic but I made the decision early on that we didn't want to create just another sex toy. I wanted the Booby Pillow to create a totally new category of product that somehow could fit between sex toy and home decor. It's definitely taken some time but I think we've struck the perfect balance. Customers love how realistic the pillow is and good it feels to hold or lay on - but they're just as comfortable having it visible in their home. I think it's a telling sign for example that many of our customers are women who buy the pillow for their husbands, boyfriends or partners.

The next type of research was all about the shape and size we should design. Since I wanted the material to be memory foam I knew it would need to be cast out of a mold, and I figured that thee mold would need to be made from a digital design. I didn't know that right out of the gate but after reading a few articles I quickly understood this was the case. I almost ended up going in a totally different direction though. One of the first business relationships that presented itself was with a well known Hollywood props designer. I learned about him through some friends who hired him to build clear plastic mannequin bodies. They were super realistic so I figured he would know exactly how I should create my pillow. And as soon as I told him about the idea he loved it and wanted to partner up. At first I thought this made a ton of sense. A well known and highly talented Hollywood prop designer helping make the world's sexiest and most realistic boob shaped pillow; a no brainer. But once I started learning more about the process of creating props for Hollywood I realised it was very different than what I'd need to bring the pillow to life. You see, Hollywood props are made by hand. The initial idea may be drawn, sketched, or made digital. But the next steps involve hand making the sculpture and using it to create a mold made of latex or rubber. The figures that can then be cast from these molds become prototypes and the process repeats itself until you have just the right shape. This works great when you want to make just a few copies but it doesn't work if you want to create hundreds or thousands of replicas.

To make a high volume of figures you need a mold made of either aluminum or steal. And molds of this material can't be created by pouring molten metal around a hand made object. Instead these molds are made by taking a solid block of the metal and cutting it using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Router. So a digital design was needed from the start to cut the mold. Long story short, I realized that while the prop designer was highly talented it just didn't make sense for the product I wanted to create. I've been through a few business partnerships and I think it's incredibly important to understand what each person brings to the table before agreeing to work together.

The next part of the research was the most fun; finding the right shape...


Barcelona and the idea

The original inspiration for the booby pillow popped into my mind in 2010 while living in Barcelona. I say "my mind" because to this day my girlfriend swears the idea was originally hers. In fact, my best friend who was visiting us at the time also claims it was he who dreamed up the concept. My response is always the same... "ideas are a dime a dozen but execution is worth a million bucks".

The origin of the idea is nothing too exciting but it did involve the right puzzle pieces falling into place. One of those pieces was meeting the founders of a games startup who were funding their fledging company using their own cash. No outside investors, no friends and family money, just their own cash. They had managed to build up funds by selling their previous business, a boob and penis bean bag company. That's right. These entrepreneurs told us about their bean bag company and the process of filling giant boobs and penises made of bags half their size. It was hilarious and genius. Here I'd been making money in tech for nearly 10 years when these guys came into my life and taught me an important lesson. Ideas don't have to be one of a kind to work, they can be simple and well executed. The impression had been made.  

The other puzzle piece was our living room. After traveling for 8 months my girlfriend and I moved into a barceloneta apartment with a couple other roommates. The apartment furnishing was pretty simple and that was also true for the central room in the house. We had a large coffee table with cushions all around. No couch, chairs or other furniture. But it was perfect. We'd have friends over and lounge in that living room for hours. And it was in that room having this conversation with our new entrepreneur friends that the idea was born. 

What better pillow than one with breasts? We immediately fell in love with the idea. Breasts are beautiful and pillows, like the ones all over our living room, are an essential part of our lives.  And if our friends could make boob bean bags then I should be able to figure out how to make boob pillows right?

Little did I know at the time that I was embarking on one of the most challenging product projects of my life...