Dan decided to become an entrepreneur one afternoon as he was recovering on his recliner watching CNBC with a cast from his knee down to his toes. He had recently been run over by a snowboarder while teaching a ski lesson on Christmas night that left him with a spiral fracture from his ankle up both the tibia and fibula. His main occupation as a North Carolina Residential Contractor came to an abrupt halt.
Both Dan and Judi started brainstorming for an idea to create something big; a solution to a problem, a missing piece, an idea that would sustain them to engage in missions and help people in all walks of life. This continued as Dan decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship at Western Carolina University.
During this time, Judi was teaching at a nearby high school. One day (among the many previous days) she caught one of her students texting under her desk with her phone. Even though the student was quick and discreet, it was not enough to hide it from Judi. She told Dan about it and they started thinking about how they could keep their phones attached at all times and make checking their phones even quicker… Although teachers would not be too happy with the idea, they knew many smartphone users such as themselves would appreciate it.
That’s when the innovation process began for the TwistekCase. It takes time, but can be very inspiring as well. It was great to hear other’s responses, ideas, and thoughts along the way. We gained a wealth of information by being open to other people’s comments!
We are both Professional Ski Instructors so the use of the TwistekCase to film with and then watch ourselves to improve our skills is awesome! We can easily attach it to a harness and use our iPhones instead of buying more expensive gear. Plus, no matter where we are on the mountain, we easily keep in touch with the base lodge and our supervisor. A lot can happen on a mountain and you need to be prepared for just about anything.
Dan himself is a partially disabled U.S. Veteran, and he recognizes the needs there are for those with disabilities and challenges to be able to use their smartphones quicker and easier. Just the fact that the TwistekCase can help those who are struggling to hold their phones keeps us going.
We have found, talked with, and interviewed people with various disabilities. Those with physical challenges like the easy accessibility and the limited hand use when needed. Those with auditory challenges like the benefit that they can set it up as a viewing stand with many angle options to communicate with friends and family in sign language. Those with visual challenges appreciate the benefit of decreased risk of dropping their phone as well as being able to use their phone while it is attached to them or their bag. They are excited with the anticipation of TwistekCase being brought to the market!
Our overall mission is to help people! Whether it is helping the buyer of the TwistekCase, or what we can do to help others in the world with this business. It’s about people and sharing the love of Christ. We are excited about this opportunity to create a product that will help people directly and indirectly.
Mobile devices have become a way of life for millions of Americans. The average smartphone user checks their phone 150 times per day. As crazy as it may seem, take a second to think about it. We work, play, walk, sit, drive, shop, make purchases over the counter, make purchases online, exercise, read, type and conduct business with our phones. It is either in our hand, our pocket, purse, or on a clip at our side. It is easy to reach 150 times per day and also frustrating to keep up with a phone or retrieve it from its holding place that many times.
At Twistek LLC, we understand the value of technology and recognize the need to have it readily available. That is why we created a solution that is affordable and appealing to all mobile users. Instead of buying wearable technology, TwistekCase is providing smartphone users an opportunity to wear technology they already own.
Inventors fix problems. Good inventors fix problems for the masses. Great inventors fix problems for the masses and deliver it to the market. We (Dan and Judi Bruns) learned firsthand about characteristics of inventors with our first invention, the TwistekCase. As everyday smartphone users like the other 190 million+ people in the world and ski instructors, we needed a way to stay connected to our phones and use it in new ways. Instead of buying wearable technology, we decided to create a product that allows you to wear the technology you already own.
In 2013, the TwistekCase was conceptualized. It is a multi-purpose smartphone case nothing like anything on the market. It has a dual-axis 360 degree rotating hinge which allows it to fulfill more than one need. It becomes a photo stand, selfie extender, night stand, “TwistPro” for filming during action sports such as running, and an aid for those with disabilities making the phone more easily accessible and usable. The TwistekCase also helps stop the drop, giving quick and easy access to the smartphone without taking it out of the clip. This is why it has been dubbed a “smartcase.” A smartcase is a case that is more than the average case because it adapts to the user’s specific need.
Dan keeps his TwistekCase on his belt for quick access to his phone and to protect it from being dropped or lost. Judi keeps hers on her desk as a second screen to watch posts, tweets, etc. Of course, skiing and movement analysis during the winter is something we both use it for.
Creating the invention together has been exciting as we prepare to introduce it to the market. We learned a lot including what not to do! Here are some of the things we learned along the way:
1. Working as a married team has been a challenge, but well worth it. We are so different that we totally complement each other. Whether married or not, when working with a partner, identify your strengths upfront. Use each of your strengths to contribute to the product and tackle everything as a team.
2. You can’t do it all by yourself. There is a lot of help out there, just knowing where to find it is half the battle. We knew that networking is big, but found that it is bigger than we thought. You can’t avoid it. Network. Network. Network. When you meet people, harness their strengths and follow the advice of those who have once been in your shoes. You will hear so many angles and perspectives from professionals. Be willing to listen and you will learn.
3. Get ready to work in new ways. You need to be able to wear more than one hat. There are so many ways to do things such as injection mold, 3D printing, milling, rubber molds, packaging, etc. When to beta test and when not to. For some people this can be uncomfortable but it pushes you to rely on your strengths and either improve your weaknesses or get assistance.
4. Plan on it costing more than you thought. Innovation takes time and patience. With every change (improvement) there are more costs. More CAD work needing done, making another prototype, etc. For example, the 3D printing material is brittle. We broke at least 5 of them! Also, everything will take way longer than you expect, and time is money. With every change, add more time for you, for your engineer, for your 3D printing, for shipping, for weather, you name it…So make sure you build room for unexpected costs and changes in your budget and timeline.
5. An entrepreneur must overcome and persevere. Having the drive to continue moving forward is important. There will be times when you wonder, “What the heck am I doing?” Just keep moving forward. Even if you fall on your face, you’re moving forward as you fall.
You have our 5 tips on becoming a great inventor. Now it’s your turn. Share some of your lessons learned with us or your invention. We’d love to connect with you on our blog or social media sites.
Half of the year is already gone! While most people are planning summer vacations, many people are already looking forward to Christmas right now. Some are so anxious they begin celebrating Christmas in July in anticipation of the cool weather and gift-giving spirit that comes in December.
This year, we decided to give Christmas in July a new meaning. Instead of using this holiday (wait, can we officially call it a holiday?) to commemorate the Christmas season, we are giving you a chance to celebrate Christmas in December and July.
Making Your Smartphone Wearable Instead of Paying for Wearable Technology
The buzz before a piece of wearable technology releases is often deafening. Google Glass was supposed to be the Next Big Thing everybody wanted. Then, the Samsung and Pebble smartwatches, only to be outshined recently by the release of the Apple Watch. Yet, the truth is, wearable technology doesn’t replace the functionality, power, and convenience of our smartphones, just as smartphones haven’t replaced desktops and laptops. These pieces of wearable technology aim to solve a problem that smartphones already have: being able to connect to on the go.