- Tell us something about yourself, your background
Soon after high school, I joined the Air Force as a Morse Code Operator for four years. After my time in the military was up, I entered college and earned a BS in Electrical Engineering degree. I worked as a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) designer in Seattle, WA designing circuit boards for the commercial and military aircraft industries for eight years. I moved back to where I grew up in Yakima, WA to escape the stressful “city life”. I worked at various manufacturing jobs and just recently left a company where I repaired and installed automatic doors for eight years to work on my invention, the Gift Grab Game full time. I’ve also published two books of hunting stories (“Deer Diary” and “Deer Diary 2”) and am now starting a new PCB design freelance company. I’m married to my wife of 27 years and have two adult children (son and daughter) and a crazy black Schnauzer mutt with a funny crooked tooth.
- Tell us about the products you invented with a brief explanation
I have attempted to bring ten different products to market over the years in various ways but did not have success through licensing. Actually, I did sign a licensing contract with a company who was almost ready to launch my Christmas tree stand water level alarm, the “Tree Sav’r”, but they went out of business suddenly and broke our contract. So in 2017, I decided to venture out on my own and develop the Gift Grab Game, which has been manufactured and sold since 2019. It is a Christmas gift exchange game similar to a white elephant game many people traditionally play with family, friends, or co-workers during the holidays. It is unique in that players roll (or throw, bounce, or spin) a giant squishy foam die to determine whether they get to Keep, Trade, or Return the gift they just opened.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
I’ve always been a problem solver. If something can be improved upon or doesn’t exist, I either make it myself or find other ways of solving the problem. Being able to make a living as an entrepreneur has always been my dream so developing products and bringing them to market has been my goal. I’m too independent to be a good employee!
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
The idea came to me after playing a gift exchange game with our large family at Christmas. There was a lot of confusion, cheating, and ill feelings afterward so my brother-in-law gave me the idea of making an exchange game that was more fair, had clear rules, and was a lot more fun. Since the game uses a giant die, I started by making them out of solid wood myself. I designed and built a large plexiglass box to route the dice out of blocks of wood. Painting and adhering stickers to the sides proved to be too difficult and time consuming, so I found an overseas supplier to make them. I also found companies to make the cards and canvas drawstring bags to hold everything. I connected with manufacturing companies through Alibaba.com. I sold the game on Amazon, a few trade shows, and one boutique store. Along the way, I attempted to find a licensee but as I mentioned, I couldn’t find any open innovation companies to partner with. Just last month, I finished redesigning a new version that has a soft foam die, much higher quality cards, and a cool new box that looks like a Christmas gift. It just became available on Amazon two weeks ago!
- Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc
Resources I would highly recommend are the books “One Simple Idea” by Stephen Key, “Stand Alone Inventor” by Robert Merrick, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cashing In on Your Inventions” by Richard Levy, and “Product Idea to Product Success” by Matthew Yubas. In addition to books, I recommend Patent Wizard for filing PPA’s and the podcasts “How I Built This”, “The Key to Licensing”, “Inventors Launchpad”, and “The Invention Stories Podcast” (my favorite). And lastly, be sure to join the UIA (United Inventors Association) and any local inventors groups.
- Where are you with your product?
The Gift Grab Game can be purchased online or directly from me in wholesale quantities. I am currently pursuing small brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs. Once I gain some traction in the marketplace, I will go after big box retailers.
- Website: Click HERE
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