Biz How-to: The Birth of an Idea

by Cat on September 10, 2012

Michelle Harris is a lawyer and designer of Pillito, a fashionable pill bottle with a built-in timer so you never forget when you last took your pills. Not only does Michelle have a busy work schedule, but she is also in the process of adopting. It has been a grueling process fraught with months of endless waiting. How does she manage all aspects of her life? We asked her a few questions to find out.
Where did the idea for Pillito come from? How did you start developing the idea into a product?
Actually, I came up with the idea for Pillito when I started thinking about adoption.  I’m a twin to a male and my entire life I’ve been fascinated by whether we’re governed by DNA, nurturing, or something in between, something entirely our own.
To avoid the emptiness of the wait which inevitably comes with adoption, I decided to see if I was related by DNA or otherwise to my two inventor grandfathers.  My background is in writing and law. I’m not the engineer type, but I soon realized invention is like writing: it’s problem solving.   I traveled to Peru to learn Spanish and work in an orphanage. I love traveling without a watch or phone but I couldn’t remember if I took my vitamins in the morning. I wanted a fashionable, discreet, pill bottle and none was on the market.  Pillito was born.

What were some of the challenges you faced in developing Pillito as a product and company? What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
I’ve worked full-time while doing Pillito mornings, nights, and weekends.  The only challenge for me has been finding the right people with whom to work.  The funding is more of a waiting game than a challenge but one should start looking for capital and knowing costs as early as possible. That’s where people become involved. Check references, not friends, and only work with people are are instantly dependable.

How do you manage your personal life while developing Pillito?
Dependable co-workers are required when you have so  much else on your plate, like adoption, which is unpredictable.   I’ve managed a full plate by keeping incredibly systematic about non-negotiable but boring matters, like paying bills, laundry, and exercise.  While I love catching up with friends, I schedule in advanced and set phone dates. I miss impromptu socializing but that will return, I hope, with some a lessened work load. But if a lessened work load doesn’t happen, then that’s okay too.

What advice do you have for women looking to adopt?
Just like adoption, Pillito has been a celebration of time and the unknown.  Many people’s sadness stems from unrealized expectations.  People expect their children, partners, life, or themselves to be a certain way and when reality doesn’t meet expectations, the gap saddens.   So let go of the expectations.  I have no clue what my baby will look or act like.  In truth, neither do mothers who have their children with husbands.   Thus, I’m trying to use this waiting, this Pillito invention, as preparation to see the positive, live in gratitude, and harmonize with the unknown.
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