Unique kids high chair full-speed farming novel clean

Raphael Kolenko has developed a new toddler high chair that doubles as a play stucture.

Hamilton Business - The Hamilton Spectator

Photo: Barry Gray, Hamilton Spectator

Raphael Kolenko was constantly fetching a step stool for his preschooler to let her climb up into her chair at the family dinner table.

He got a bit fed up so he ran out to buy a high chair that came with steps, thinking it might be easier and safer that way.

Crazy as it seemed, he couldn’t find one. Not in a big box store. Not on the Internet. Not anywhere.

Within a few days he came up with the design for Up Wee Go (upweego.com) — a plastic moulded chair with steps, a tray, inserts for tiny bottoms and for a bit of fun, a slide that all fit into the chair.

That was seven years ago. Four were taken up with getting patents and developing the production model at Penn State (apparently a big centre for large plastic rotational moulding).

“We need our kids to be more independent,” he said. “This makes that easy and safe. It can also prevent back injuries from lifting heavy children. It’s endorsed by the Canadian Chiropractic Association.”

He’s also had the thumbs-up from parenting expert Alyson Schafer.

So with the good buzz and after finally selling his food business, his focus turned full-time on Up Wee Go. He plans to sell his chair on his own website (designed by a Megagraph of Hamilton) and possibly local children’s stores.

Now Kolenko, a longtime entrepreneur and dad to three, is about to go on a splashy social media campaign and launch a kick-starter campaign to raise about $50,000 to get production off the ground. The chair will likely start at around $289 with a $50 discount on Kickstarter, accessories such as the steps are an extra $60 or so.

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Hamilton Business