Dana Askew Harris and husband Mark Harris rarely leave home without their iSucker.
The St. Jacob couple invented the hard plastic ball-shaped suction device hat attaches to the back of an iPad or tablet, making the small computers easy to hold.
They use it when they're waiting to board a plane or sitting in their seats at Cardinal baseball games.
"We take a dozen everywhere we go," said Mark, 49, who has a manufacturing background. "We will carry a backpack. People ask, 'What is it? Where do we get one?'"
The iSucker comes in 44 colors, and costs between $16 and $20. Want a white one with red baseball seams? It's $20.
They're available locally at Jan's Hallmark Stores, CPR Cell Phone Repair (103A Frey Lane, Fairview Heights), and Gifts For Individuals, 702 E Highway 50, O'Fallon. Or buy one online at www.isucker.com and through amazon.com.
Mark and Dana came up with the idea in January 2012, and had a prototype by August. They brought the iSucker to the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
"There were probably 10,000 people," said Mark, whose booth was on entrepreneurs' row. They were fortunate to connect with Steve Greenberg, known as "The Innovation Insider." He travels the country looking for innovative products, has a webite and has appeared on TV's "Today" show.
Here''s what Greenberg had to say:
"iSucker -- crazy name, cool product. -- Can't find a comfortable way to hold your tablet? -- iSucker is the solution. The iSucker uses a proven suction technology that secures to the back of your iPad or tablet making it easier to hold in your hands, rotate and share information with others. ... When using the iSucker the weight of the device ergonomically cradles in the palm of your hand, leaving your other hand free to swipe and type. It is the easiest way to hold your iPad or tablet."
Mark estimates there are 1,500 iSuckers in the world today, including samples they've given away. They are available in 90-plus Hallmark stores in 20 states, from Washington state to New York.
The entrepreneurial couple visit stores to get feedback and check out displays. They work to fine tune marketing. Friends and family help promote the iSucker, too.
"It's fun to see them excited about our product and wanting us to do well," said Dana.
Dana and Mark are generous as well.
"If you didn't have an iSucker when you got to our house for a Christmas party," said Dana, "when you left, as a housewarming gift, you got an iSucker."
Still, it's a lot of work.
"Sometimes we think, 'Why did we do it?'" said Dana, "but we are feeling like we are coming up to a point where it's going to be more rewarding, not just financially. When you go into a store and your product is on display, it's really quite cool to see."
They were pleasantly surprised when they visited Jan's Hallmark in Swansea the Friday before Christmas.
"We were tickeld pink to see there was only one iSucker left in the whole store," said Dana. "It's awesome to see your product come off the shelves. It's happening. We are selling them."
-- Maureen Houston