For the Delgado family, what began as an elementary school assignment challenging students to create something with materials found at home has now developed into an entrepreneurial project: making and selling face shields for bike helmets.
In June, 10-year-old Sam Delgado first pitched the idea of creating face shields for bike helmets to his third grade class at Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School, where he was assigned the task of presenting an innovative idea for a class project.
“First, he had the idea because he would complain about wearing the mask while they were going biking, so it was hard to get him wearing [one] all the time,” said Sam’s mom, Tirsa Delgado.
Sam and his dad, Carlos Delgado, frequently ride their bikes around trails near their Newton neighborhood and the Charles River.
“I asked my dad, ‘So motorcycle helmets have visors, why don’t bike helmets have face shields?’” Sam said.
The school assignment, which asked students to create and present a prototype for their idea, required Sam to get creative with resources and materials in his house.
“We don’t have any machines,” Tirsa Delgado said, deeming the process “pretty simple.”
Encouraging his son to launch a business out of the school project, Carlos Delgado applied for a provisional patent for the product in July and bought the domain bikefaceshield.com. The patent was approved in August under Sam Delgado’s name.
The idea to sell the face shields began when Sam asked to buy a new toy.
“I wanted to give him a life lesson: ‘If you want a new toy, why not just make the money for that toy?’” his father said.
The original face shield prototype involved three main materials: a headband made from spare craft foam, special strips of Velcro, and a shield molded from toy containers. Sam’s parents said they were impressed and worked together to materialize his creative vision from scratch.
After testing out the face shields on a bike path, the father-son duo said it worked “very well.”
“It’s not only against the virus, but also bugs, so you don’t eat mosquitos when you’re biking,” Carlos Delgado said. “The shield also protects your eyes and your face, and helps you avoid touching your face.”
Tirsa Delgado said in an interview Sept. 23 that 12 of their shields had been sold at $15 each.
Each handmade kit contains a detachable face shield, two extra strips of Velcro, and an instruction manual outlining how to apply the Velcro and attach the shield to a bike helmet, according to their website.
Before the patent was approved, the Delgado family experimented with the homegrown business endeavor by selling the face shields to local friends and neighbors.
Chris Golden, who manages facilities at the Sacred Heart Parish in Newton Centre, said he “recognized the benefit immediately” when the Delgado family introduced the idea of helmet shields to him.
Golden said wearing a face shield versus a mask while biking is “a big plus,” especially when it comes to biking uphill.
“With the face shield, it doesn’t inhibit you in any way,” Golden said. “It’s very convenient.”
Before filing for a patent, Sam Delgado said his dad checked Amazon for other face shield options for cyclists but “didn’t find anything economical.”
Though the business currently operates locally, Carlos Delgado said he hopes one day the patent can be sold to a bigger, more efficient company. “One of the challenges of this pandemic,” he said, is “the channels of distribution.”
They are currently providing free, no-contact delivery services to customers in Newton, Brookline, Waltham, Belmont, Needham, and Wellesley, according to the website.
“It’s a family project, so we have to distribute locally,” Carlos Delgado said.
Profits aside, the family said they gained valuable knowledge about creating a business from their entrepreneurial adventure. Carlos Delgado said they wanted to teach their son about making money, and the project turned out to be a fun alternative to something like a lemonade stand.
“It was this adventure to show Samuel the path from the conception to the profit, as well as all the steps,” he said.
Jessica Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.