- Tell us something about yourself, your background:
I grew up in Ohio but moved to California when I was 19 years old. I’m a graduate of Pepperdine University with a business degree in Management and have worked for both big and small organizations for most of my career. The last 15 years of my corporate career I was an IT Project Manager. I ended up moving back to Ohio where I currently reside. For the past 5 years, I’ve been selling my product full time under the business name, SmartieHeads, LLP.
- Tell us about the product/s you invented with a brief explanation
I invented a product called passwordsFAST. passwordsFAST is an OFFLINE, Compact, Electronic Password Keeper
- Requires one password for access
- Stores up to 125 passwords
- Easy-find feature for quick retrieval
- Built-in CR2016 lithium battery
- All data stored in permanent memory
- All data encrypted using AES256 encryption
- Easily transportable and convenient (slightly larger than a credit card)
- Auto generation feature which allows passwordsFAST to create a strong, random password for the user
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
I was working for a large corporation and they brought in an ethical hacker who was able to get 95% of the company’s passwords, including the CFO! They started making us create strong passwords, told us not to write them down and we had to change them every 3 months. I had sticky notes all over the place which became unmanageable. I also realized that other people were having the same issue. I thought there must be a way to have strong passwords all in one place (offline), but only have to remember one, Alas, passwordsFAST was born!
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
I started out with a drawing of my vision. I then sought out to look for someone who could write the software for my product. I found a young software engineer who was willing to write the software. I also found a local plastic manufacturer who could create a prototype of the outside of the unit (which looked nothing like it does today). I created a prototype that was just a square plastic unit and we added the software on the unit for a first prototype. I then took it to a convention where I could show my prototype to people to get their feedback on my potential product. I got such an overwhelming response from people! They told me how frustrated they were trying to remember all their passwords and they would love to have my product. I then felt comfortable investing my own money to take my product from prototype to finished product. I had to attend multiple conventions to look for a manufacturer I could work with to create the finished hardware. I finally found one and we worked together to create a finished product. This manufacturer allowed me to purchase a small quantity (500 units) to test the market. The software engineer I worked with became my business partner. At one of the conventions I attended, I caught the eye of a buyer from QVC Shopping Channel. They were working with the Today Show on a segment called “The Next Big Thing”. My product was 1 of 9 chosen out of 2000+ submissions. I was featured on the Today Show and then went on to be on QVC Home Shopping Channel 3 times and sold out each time. Today, we’re on version 3 of the product and it sells all over the world!
- Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e., Books, websites, software etc
The internet has been an invaluable tool for researching companies to help with material and manufacturing. Also, it’s helped searching for various conventions to showcase my product over the last few years.
- Where are you with your product?
My product is for sale and can be purchased online.
--End of Interview--
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