- Tell us something about yourself, your background
I graduated from Baldwin High School in 1996 near the bottom of my class, however that did not stop me from the inspiration to be successful. I could not accept anything but success in my future and I was driven to achieve it! At the age of 17 I started my first business in Lake County, MI and I named it – Robert Helm’s Interior and Exterior Decorating and Cleaning Services. The jobs were scarce for many young people me, raised in a single parent home, I started my business to create employment for myself and to help my mother.
After graduating from high school I moved to Illinois to attended Universal Technical Institute (UTI). I majored in advanced commercial, residential, and industrial heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R). I graduated from UTI with an advanced diploma as well as a universal EPA certification and, shortly thereafter I went to work for Sears Service Center in 1997.
Through hard-work and diligence, I was promoted to the highest levels in the industry within 5 years and on my 6th year I was again promoted to service technician manager. Under my leadership the service department generated over 1 million dollars in revenue for the first time in the company’s history.
My success in the HVAC/R industry was notable. I worked throughout the Mid-West and on many specialized projects. My experience landed me a job as an adjunct professor teaching ultra-high efficiency heating systems at Lansing Community College (LCC). I was recognized as an outstanding professor by my students, colleagues, and the Center for Teaching Excellence.
Around 2004, I became a state licensed general contractor and a registered real-estate home inspector. Shortly thereafter, I founded Quality Vision Construction and All Seasons Home Inspection Service to capitalize on the real-estate housing boom. My career change provided me with many opportunities to use my creativity and ingenuity to solve problems.
After more than 8 years in the field, I retired from the HVAC/R industry late 2007 to pursue an international basketball career and to learn international methods of construction in South Africa.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
In 2009, I began chasing my real passion of becoming an inventor. I developed and prototyped several products before establishing my company – Accu Distributing, LLC.
- Can you list the products you have invented with a brief explanation of each
- Accu-Text Smart Touch which is a multipurpose germ resistant fingertip cover used for pressing buttons and touch screens
- AllSportsHeadGear ™ is a fashion and fitness head towel
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
The first product brought to market by me was the Accu-Text Smart Touch which is a multipurpose germ resistant fingertip cover used for pressing buttons and touch screens. I conceived my idea after struggling for several months trying to perfect text messaging on BlackBerry devices.
Solving the problem of big thumbs and small buttons became my primary focus. I spent a week searching for a product on the market to resolve my purpose, what it would look like and how would it work. Eventually, I purchased some molding clay and liquid latex from a craft store to turn my idea into a physical 3D model. After creating a few ‘Frankenstein’ prototypes, I finally had a rough sample to work with.
Approximately one month later, I hired a professional prototyping company to produce a functioning sample, the CAD drawings needed for manufacturing and to file the patent.
Once I secured a manufacturer, I was able to test the product, work out the bugs, and finally move into production.
Accu-Text ™ won most innovative product at the SPREE Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada presented by the United Inventors Association (UIA).
In 2012 I teamed up with my wife and children to form Written By Kids Publishing Company (WBKPC). The company was established by my then 10-year daughter Nkiyasi Helm to promote bullying prevention, youth literacy, positive morals, and ethics.
Over the past 8 years WBKPC has blossomed into a multidimensional family organization that includes a Written By Kids Publishing Company (WBKPC), writtenbykids.com (WBK), and Written By Kids Foundation (WBKF).
In 2017 I conceived my second invention, AllSportsHeadGear ™ , a fashion and fitness head towel. One day while I and my friend were watching basketball highlights on YouTube, I saw Steph Curry sitting on the sideline with a towel over my head and tucked into my jersey. Right at that moment, it took me back to my days of playing basketball and that cold feeling one sometimes gets when sitting on the sideline or the bench.
I thought to myself once again, “what if there was a towel that was designed to be used specifically the way Mr. Curry uses his? What would it look like?” That is when I quickly grabbed a Sharpie, an old bath towel and, began sketching my design on it. Moments later, I thought my design was just about perfect design. Within an hour, me and my friend cut out the pattern, sewed it together, and tested the prototype.
I immediately recognized the potential opportunity of my unique concept and submitted a provisional patent. I began seeking a US based cut and sew manufacture to produce my invention AllSportsHeadGear ™. After sifting through a few different companies I decided to partner with Detroit Sewn based in Detroit, MI. They were very helpful in terms of the product development, choosing the best cloth, stiches, creating a Tech Pack and digitized pattern for manufacturing.
My product was designed to absorb moisture, regulate temperature, and be used as a hot/cold compress.
Now as a seasoned professional and subject matter expert, I spend the bulk of my time working with schools, organizations, and communities across the nation to facilitate and encourage dialogs about bullying prevention, entrepreneurship, and the importance of inventing possible solutions to problems.
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