Home-based business offers heated vests

A home-based entrepreneur is now selling heated “Stadium Vests” he invented.

John Cosgrove, owner of Iron Range Outfitters, has been selling portable heating kits on eBay for about a year, and recently had the full vests made up in China. Heat panels in the vests can be dialed up or down, and the battery pack weight is comparable to a smart phone, he said. The battery packs are a new technology patented a couple of years ago.

Cosgrove doled out vests to his mother and other family members to test out.

“They thought they were kind of cool,” he said. “They heat up to the point where you feel too hot, and have to turn them down. … It’s like a heated car seat.”

It’s easy to think of the local application for the vests, but Cosgrove has bigger ideas in mind.

“My first goal is to find a market among the people in North Dakota who drive semis in support of the oil industry,” Cosgrove said.

He’d also like to market them to college students to wear to football games.

Cosgrove’s day job is lease coordinator for Hennepin County — one of his recent deals involved securing space at Sabathani Community Center for public health offices. But he’s no stranger to entrepreneurship. He also imports bike brake lights that he sells on his website, ironrangeoutfitters.com. The lights have a motion sensor that tracks when a bike slows down, triggering the brake lights. He also invented display panels that appear in the skyways, and he developed a portable heating pad for people with backaches.

Cosgrove has new ideas for products as well, such as technology for cooling clothing, with fans that blow cold air into a jacket.

“I am building this business as an encore career,” he said.