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Girard Orthopedic Surgeon Builds Better Baby Seat

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Sitting might be the second-easiest action a human can perform. One need only find a suitable surface and sit on it. For infants, however, sitting is much more demanding.

Even once they’re capable of supporting their own heads – around six months old – infants still lack the strength to sit up on their own.

It was at this stage in his daughter’s life 13 years ago that a native of Girard, Dr. Paul Pagano, began trying “to find something for her to sit in that was comfortable.”

The chair he bought, he recalls, was top-heavy and didn’t allow her to move her legs and hips.

“So I decided I was going to make something because I couldn’t find anything I really liked,” he says.

Pagano, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, began tinkering with a piece of foam, cutting portions away until he “came up with something she could sit in,” he says. “It was obviously very rough at that point.”

After years of filing patents and tweaking the design, Pagano and his business partner, Jude Nohra, are ready to bring the resultant product, the LolyPod, to market. (Nohra is general counsel and secretary to United Community Financial Corp. and Home Savings Bank.)

“It’s a highly innovative seat,” says Nohra, chief financial officer of LolyPod. “The design, we believe, is much safer than anything on the market.”

Unlike seats on the market today, Pagano says, the LolyPod is nearly impossible for an infant to tip over.

“The seat itself comes within about an inch of the floor,” giving it a very low center of gravity he says. The triangular shape adds stability.

As far as range of motion, the LolyPod provides ample room for an infant to freely move his legs and hips, while providing lumbar support.

“What that does is help develop trunk control,” Pagano says.

The LolyPod is made from a single piece of tough memory foam, with a built-in tray for food, a cup holder and a suspended toy.

So far Pagano and Nohra have produced 1,000 units.

“We’re looking for a lot of feedback from the customers,” Nohra says.

The duo is spreading word of their product through social media and giveaways. They’re also offering a 20% discount at LolyPod.com for customers who use the coupon code “Valley.”

The LolyPod is priced at $69.99.

“If there are local nonprofits in the area that are putting together events, we’d be happy to donate the seats to them,” Nohra says.

The two hope to use the reactions to perfect the product. Pagano says he’s working on a few design modifications that would make the LolyPod more appealing.

“The challenges are putting it into clients’ hands and then seeing what happens,” Pagano says. “You don’t know what an infant’s going to do with your product until they have it.”

Other challenges include the high cost of manufacturing. Because LolyPod is designed for stability, the chair requires more material than most similar products.

“It’s hard to be competitive in the market and keep the cost down because the material is expensive,” Pagano says.

The LolyPod is manufactured in China, but Nohra says he and Pagano are looking to find an American manufacturer. That would allow them “better control over the manufacturing.

“The baby market is one that is ever-growing, and it’s got a lot of possibilities,” Nohra says.

A 2017 report by Grand View Research Inc. finds the worldwide baby-care market will reach $121 billion by 2025.

The two say their plan is to get the LolyPod into some local stores, and eventually on sites such as Amazon.com, and then into big-box stores.

“It’s a big market,” says Pagano. “You only have to get a small percentage of a big market.”

Pictured at top: Jude Nohra and the LolyPod.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.