March 3, 2011
Parents Donna and Joe Lefcourt created Maddie’s World after their first-hand experience with premature birth. Their daughter, Maddie, faced a number of developmental issues that had the potential to affect her motor skills. That’s when Donna’s motherly intuition gave her the idea to form a company that could help children like Maddie. Maddie’s World manufactures appropriately-sized toys – a critical way babies’ motor skills grow and develop – for premature and small infants.
Lefcourt noticed that every time she put the toy in her daughter’s hand, she would drop it, either because of the toy’s size or the weight. After exhausting all local and online retail sources for toys suitable for her daughter, Lefcourt was seized by the entrepreneurial spirit and decided to make her own line of specialty toys – but where should she start? She began researching the market for toys for premature babies and learned from the March of Dimes that more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the United States. She also researched baby toy companies both nationally and internationally.
Lefcourt attended an inventors’ workshop being offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) and afterward began working with Ed Murphy, a project manager with the Georgia Entrepreneur and Small Business Outreach program, a partnership between EI2 and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center that delivers services to entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural Georgia. Murphy assisted Lefcourt with researching manufacturers that could make her line of specialty baby toys and coached her on the kinds of questions she needed to ask. Murphy continued to assist Lefcourt with developing a business plan and her pricing structure.
- Selected Peliton Plastics, a plastic injection molding company in Valdosta, Ga., to begin making the first three toys – a rattle, a teether and dexterity/motor skill toy
- Hired a local marketing professional to help design company logo and revamp business name
- Donates a portion of sales to the local Children’s Miracle Network where the toys are purchased
“I was very skeptical about talking to people and telling them my business idea, but I also realized that was the only way I could get some help. Ed was very encouraging and even the days I got down, he pushed me to press forward. Every time I’ve ever called him about anything, he’s been right there,” Lefcourt said.