Cool Head LLC – A Illinois SBDC at Harper College Success Story

Published On: March 13, 2023Categories: In the News

Welders regularly face exposure to dangerous fumes in their work environment, which is often in an enclosed space. According to OSHA, depending on the type of fumes and length of exposure, a welder may be at risk of injuries that include eye, nose and throat irritation; dizziness and nausea; damage to lungs, kidneys, and nervous system; certain types of cancer; and asphyxiation.

The CDC cites, “Numerous studies indicate that welders may be at increased risk of neurological and neurobehavioral health effects when exposed to metals such as lead, iron and manganese.” Wearing a helmet protects the welder from other dangers, but limits ventilation and traps fumes and heat.

Welding inspector Eric Emery knows all too well these hazards and was determined to create a product to protect workers. Drawing from his welding experience and educational background in electronics, Eric designed and patented Cool Head®, an innovative device that fits in a helmet to circulate fresh, cool air to the user’s facial area.

Why did you choose to start Cool Head, LLC?
I started Cool Head® out of necessity. As a former welder and American Welding Society (AWS) QC-1 welding inspector, I have been witness to the harmful effects of fume inhalation and heat exhaustion. I knew there had to be a better solution to the large, cumbersome fume extraction systems currently on the market. The Cool Head® Air Flow Assembly easily clips to any helmet, as it is approximately the size of a credit card.

Tell us a little about your business and what makes it unique.
Cool Head® is a self-contained, internal “air-flow” assembly for welding helmets and face shields. It is the first self-contained, USB-rechargeable, battery-powered, lightweight air-flow assembly providing a curtain wall of “filtered” ambient air to the welder, which fits into the helmet without disrupting its integrity. Not only does this product help protect the wearer from dangerous fumes, it also produces a cool environment to ease breathing and limit claustrophobic feelings. The built-in circulation allows the welder to continue working without starting and stopping to remove the helmet, meaning employee and employer both benefit with health, safety and productivity improvements.

What was the problem you were facing when you decided to contact the Illinois SBDC at Harper College?
I came to the SBDC at Harper for some direction. Having a patent, trademark, and business was just a starting point; marketing strategies, website call-to-actions, and business modeling/structure, were new languages to me.

How did the Illinois SBDC at Harper College help with the problems you were having?
I’ve been fortunate to work with several knowledgeable, helpful advisors from the SBDC at Harper College. Not only have they helped me with my original questions, they’re guiding me into different avenues of thought.

  • Currently, I am working with Dennis La Porta, Jennie Johns and Marge Johnsson to develop my business plan and other small projects in the application.
  • With Marge’s assistance, I’ve begun my financial projections. She is working with me to forecast based on a licensing objective in addition to sales of product to end users.
  • Jennie has helped me create a very professional website that is functional and engaging.
  • Dennis has been working with me to identify manufacturing companies that might license or buy my technology, or partner with me to bring my product to market. I’m following his advice to fine-tune my website and business plan to address my true target market. Our next step will be to develop sales conversations I can use with prospects.
  • Through my work with Cherie Kretsinger, I am moving my business forward from a marketing standpoint. She is helping me develop my marketing messaging and how best to deliver it.
  • One of the challenges I faced with my design was to get the circuitry and everything to fit in that limited size. Mike Colbert was a huge help in converting the circuits and wires from my original version into a computer board for my second version. With Mike’s help, I have working models, made through EIGERlab, a partner of Harper College.

Would you recommend small business owners use the services of the Illinois SBDC at Harper College?
Yes, I highly recommend the services of the Illinois SBDC at Harper College. When I started, I couldn’t run a computer. Now, I have a fully functional website and work with several online apps and platforms to run and promote my business. My experience has helped tremendously with my understanding of business and focusing the direction to follow. It’s these giving people who help entrepreneurs like myself keep going. Without all the help I’ve received, I don’t know where I would be – it really is a blessing.

What does the future look like for Cool Head®?
The future outlook for Cool Head® is to sell manufacturing rights, and/or sell technology to established businesses. While my initial target market is the welding industry, Cool Head® has many applications for other industries. Further, this product is not just for working people, it’s also perfect to use while golfing and playing other sports, as it keeps you cool while keeping bugs away from your face. My patent is good for welding helmets, hard hats and soft caps.

If you had one piece of advice to give someone just starting a small business, what would it be?
My advice to anyone starting a business is to have an established financial base above all.

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