Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating Innovation, Entrepreneurs and Living the American Dream — Contest Awards $25,000 to Winner

We were geeked to read that in the spirit of out-of-the-box ingenuity, [ Design World ] and a small business advocacy group recently awarded a generous chunk of cash to a few inventors through a "Live Your Dream" contest that addressed an important topic on all of our minds during these tough economic times ... Is innovation alive and well? YES! Check out the winners:

We've got a soft spot for innovation, so this tugs on our heart strings. Since its inception, Bishop-Wisecarver has upheld two fundamental themes: Motion and innovation. Each of our products exist because it was an answer to some unmet need in the industrial space, like our signature double-vee linear guide wheel. This product line came to life because a customer came to us with some failing packaging machinery. How could this machine's moving parts operate in harsh environments without clogging? This led to the solution that we later dubbed DualVee Motion Technology®. When you work with your customers hands-on, you discover these types of problems. And it's creativity that breeds these cutting-edge solutions. That's what problem solvers do — like our founder Bud Wisecarver. Engineers are think tanks. So are artists and scientists. And entrepreneurs.

We spoke with BWC President [ Pamela Kan ] about the contest since she grew up with an inventor, her father, Bud. She told us it's important to encourage innovation and help innovators market their ideas. Efforts like the "Live Your Dream" contest go a long way in adding value to the marketplace, she added As a second-generation owner of her father's company, Kan grew up understanding the value of inventiveness.

"I didn't realize at first how different my family was," said Kan. "I didn't think about how other dads may not just fix things around the house or build stuff from scratch. I was fortunate that way."


Kan's father taught the importance of finding your unique ability and perfecting it, she said. It's a way of being that's touted by many life coaches, including Dan Sullivan, founder of [ Strategic Coach ]. It seems counter intuitive — to bolster your strengths instead of devoting a bunch of time and energy to fix your weaknesses — but it puts you in a place where you're more likely to get paid for what you love to do.

"You're more likely to be successful if you're doing something you're really passionate about," said Kan, a member of Strategic Coach for more than six years. "You work harder if you care about what you're doing."

That's how her dad, who turns 84 in January, can still show up to work regularly without being tempted to officially retire, she said. To him, inventing stuff is a hobby. A way of life. As long as he's allowed to do that, he's more than happy to pass off the company's leadership role to his daughter, whose strengths lie in management and marketing.

"I have to think about how to market innovation," Kan said. "My dad created such a simple, elegant product [ Dualvee ] — he provided that foundation. Now my challenge is how do I multiply that out."


Not every inventor gets the support — moral or financial — to turn their ideas into a sustainable business the way the Wisecarver family did. A lot of creators have these unique problem-solving strengths but can't gain enough marketing momentum needed for take off. That's why it's so cool Design World and the Council of Smaller Enterprises gave $40,000 to these inventors — it could be the hand up that changes their world forever and hopefully give them the drive to keep on creating.