By Danny restivo
In 2008, Jerry Balestrino was lying on a bed with his laptop resting on his propped-up knees. While surfing the Internet, he realized his posture wasn’t conducive for both relaxation and work.
“I thought, ‘Boy, if I can just get this thing up my legs a little bit, and get the keyboard away from my stomach and out of my waist,’” said Balestrino.
He said that was the moment when the lightbulb turned on.
When Balestrino returned home to Hubbard, he started tinkering around with a device that would allow him to recline on the couch while casually browsing the Internet. With two binder clips and a nylon dog leash, Balestrino came up with the first Laptop Trapeze.
He said the device is a simple solution that allows him to recline while using his laptop or tablet. The strap attaches to the bottom of the computer and wraps around the knees. It secures the laptop on the knee so both hands are free, said Balestrino.
He said he got great feedback from family and friends but didn’t put too much stock in their response.
“They’re family; they have to say nice things,” he said.
Balestrino sat on the idea for a few more years, until the death of his father. He said the tragedy refocused his efforts on the design process, which included a more professional-looking item.
After finalizing on a prototype that didn’t include a dog leash or binder clips, Balestrino decided to enter the 2011 Invention and New Product Exposition show in Pittsburgh. According to a press release, the event is billed as “America’s largest invention trade show.” After having reservations about attending INPEX, Balestrino’s intuition was validated. He said interest in his product peaked, and he won an award for best computer-related product at the show.
“I was like, ‘You know what, people really like this, so let’s make a go of it,’” he said.
For the next year, he turned his confidence into action and started looking for companies to manufacture the Laptop Trapeze. After settling with a company in China, Balestrino had 5,000 items produced. He then turned his attention to marketing the device by setting up a website, where customers could research and buy the item. It was a labor-intensive process for a pharmaceutical sales representative.
“Everything takes time, and when you have a full-time job, it takes a lot,” he said.
With 5,000 Laptop Trapezes, Balestrino attended the June 2012 INPEX show.
He said he wanted to get the word out about the product, whereas in 2011 he was gauging interest. At the show, Balestrino met representatives from Google who were looking for a product that was useful for a younger staff that liked to recline on couches while working.
“He thought this was the coolest thing in the world,” said Balestrino. “I gave him a dozen, and I said, ‘Take them back; let me know what you think.’”
Interest in his product at the 2012 surpassed the previous year said Balestrino. The Laptop Trapeze won its second INPEX award in two years, this time for best office-supply category. However, Balestrino doesn’t foresee his item being used in an office.
He believes with interest in social networking at an all-time high, it will prove more applicable for young people.
Lifelong Hubbard resident Tony Pesce went to high school with Balestrino, He has four children, ranging in age from 8 to 18, and the Laptop Trapeze is a hot commodity in his house.
“We originally had two, and then I got tired of having the kids fight over them, so now I have four,” he said.
He thinks the idea could find a market on college campuses, but whoever buys his product, Balestrino says they will enjoy his invention.
“It’s just a silly little idea that came to my head, but it works,” he said.
For purchase information on the Laptop Trapeze, visit www.laptoptrapeze.com.