In high school, I was enrolled in a capstone pre-collegiate engineering class that challenged students to invent a new product over a 9-month period. At that time, I was very interested in yo-yos (due to a series of unrelated, but obviously nerdy, series of events). It seemed like a perfect excuse to explore my newfound passion, and so I took it upon myself to design a new yo-yo.
Over the next 9 months, I identified a specific problem (yo-yo response systems, I can explain upon request), designed a solution, and prototyped that solution. I was lucky to find some great technical mentors along the way that helped with dynamic simulations of the clutch system, which would engage when the yo-yo was thrown. I prototyped the yo-yo in a combination of plastic and metal parts. In order to have metal parts made, I took time off of school and went to a local machine shop where I worked with a professional machinist to bring my yo-yo to life. I also went about trying to bring this yo-yo to market. With the help of another mentor, I wrote a provisional patent which would enable me to share my idea with toy companies with some, if minimal, protection. I also created a business proposal in which I outlined COGS, market opportunity, and remaining necessary investment.
I sent this proposal to about a half dozen yo-yo companies across the US. In all frankness, I was extremely proud of what I had done up to this point, but sending out the proposal seemed like merely ceremonious (though logical) end for this project. I received a call from Duncan Yo-yos in the beginning of May that they were interested in having me come out to talk about my yo-yo design. It was an amazing, unexpected experience, we ended up signing a license agreement about 4 months later. Although the yo-yo never went into mass production (it was a high risk project and required significant capital that they weren’t quite ready to invest), it was an incredible learning experience.
As a result of this experience, I got hooked on design, inventing, and building products.
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