Her first grant just under her belt, Alyson Starr Probst, hopes to find time to bring her next idea to market. Juggling being a full time mom and starting up a company keeps this mother of two, Daniel (six & a half) and Matthew (four), quite busy. Had it not been for a suggestion from Natalie Tysdale, of WB2News, two days before the contest deadline, she wouldn’t have entered.
The original inspiration for the Snack & Play Travel Tray came from Daniel, then two and a half. She couldn’t find a safe, practical surface for him to use when he was in his car seat or stroller. She invented it before incorporating her company in June 2002. With the help of the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation); her package designer, Mary Snyder; and Colorado Contract Cut & Sew—her Starr was born. She doesn’t do things half way, and that is why her first product, the Snack & Play Travel Tray has received high marks for child safety in actual tests.
It took her about 15 months to bring the idea from a thought and design to an actual prototype. In another 12 months, after refinements the product was launched. With five investors, the LLC is 95% women owned.
While one partner helped with her Business Plan, another, her sister Stacey, a Marketing Consultant, helped develop the Marketing Plan. It is now sold by retailers and e-tailers in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Her strongest advocate—her father—passed away in January 2005, but she knows that he is helping her celebrate this award. It was Toni, her mom, teaching art classes to children when Alyson was little that sparked her creativity. Even though her dad was a pharmacist, he also authored books. It’s easy to see that numbers couldn’t keep her happy forever. Ask her how many other ideas she has, and she’ll modestly say three. Expect more.
Alyson graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a BA in Economics and Accounting, and passed her CPA in New York. A job offer from Vail Associates brought her to Colorado in September of 1994. After a move to Denver, she continued to work in financial positions until the birth of her children. She now resides in Stapleton with her two sons and three dogs. In her "spare time", she tries to find time to hike, bike, snowshoe, read and run creative Lego camps.