Andi Barness-Rubin, founder of Cart Safe.
Andi Barness-Rubin, creator of Cart Safe, developed recyclable cart liners to protect families like hers from germs and bacteria lingering in shopping carts. — Cart Safe

Andi Barness-Rubin, creator of Cart Safe, has a message for budding entrepreneurs: You have to spend money to make money. She learned this lesson firsthand in 2020, when she began developing a new product to solve the public’s growing concern about picking up germs and viruses in stores.

Even before COVID-19, this mother of three was concerned with keeping her family’s groceries free of germs, bacteria and contaminants from the average shopping cart and was constantly cleaning carts with sanitizing wipes before she shopped. When the pandemic struck, Barness-Rubin got to work developing a recyclable plastic liner that completely covers a shopping cart, which keeps items free of any bacteria and contaminants that may be lingering in the basket or on the handle.

Money well spent: Securing a patent and getting the word out

While Cart Safe has seen great success since it launched, getting to this point required significant research, testing and modification, which is an expensive process in itself. Barness-Rubin took it one step further by successfully applying for and receiving a patent for her unique invention.

According to Barness-Rubin, securing a patent through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been her company’s biggest accomplishment to date. It’s certainly an achievement to celebrate: The USPTO grants just 53% of the hundreds of thousands of patent applications it receives each year, and the average cost of an idea patent with the USPTO can range from $5,000 to $16,000+.

People are not searching for our product because it's a brand new product that has never been created before. We are spending a decent amount of money trying to get the word out via social media, advertising and PR.

Andi Barness-Rubin, founder, Cart Safe

While patents can be an expensive addition to your business’s overall operating costs, Barness-Rubin believes it’s a necessary expenditure, as is a hefty investment in marketing initiatives.

“It's true what they say … you need to spend money to make money,” she said. “People are not searching for our product because it's a brand new product that has never been created before. We are spending a decent amount of money trying to get the word out via social media, advertising and PR.”

[Read more: How to File a Patent]

Pivoting to meet consumer demand

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, some grocery stores were not allowing customers to bring in their own reusable bags, favoring disposable bags to keep both customers and their employees safe from spreading germs. Although Cart Safe’s plastic liners are recyclable, some customers were concerned about the environmental impact.

“These liners were made out of LDPE plastic, which many people did not like because of how the plastic can hurt the environment,” said Barness-Rubin. “We had a lot of people commenting on this on social media.”

To address these comments, Cart Safe decided to take an environmentally-friendly route and manufacture reusable and washable bags for maximum protection.

“We decided to add a washable version as soon as we were able, and the response has been great.”

[Read more: 3 Pandemic-Fueled Trends Brands Are Embracing Long-Term]

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Published September 13, 2021