Category Archives for "Experience"

Saltwater Bag

WaterHere is another one of the tackle boxes I invented with my friend Daniel Arsenault. It’s a bag that is designed to be used on a saltwater fishing boat that can be hosed off at the end of the day.

Daniel was coming up with some product concepts when he had an idea to do a bag that was made like a rubber rain boot. Nobody at Plano really took to the idea, but I kept pushing them because I thought it had merit and I included it in a market test at the Bassmaster Classic. It got high marks.

However, the design hit a wall when we couldn’t get a zipper to move around curves and still be waterproof. My idea was to add a “rain hat” like cover. So, there is a lid with a regular zipper and another lid that acts like a rain hat over the entire top. The user lifts up the hat and can easily access the zipper. Volia! A new product is born.

This new product is part of the 2009 tackle lineup.


Bucket Top Tackle Box

 BucketTopHere is one of the fishing tackle boxes that I invented. The idea came out of an afternoon brainstorming session with the engineer from Plano Molding Company. We were talking about how to fit their plastic utility boxes into a waterproof bag. Due to the shape of the bag we talked a little about a large round utility box (Plano aready had small round boxes).

The engineer said they had once considered a round box to fit into a 5-gallon bucket that many fishermen use. I came up with the idea to put an edge around it so that it would double as a seat. Voila! New product born.

The engineer (John) did all the design and CAD work so I can’t take credit for that, but I did come up with the basic concept. I did some research on a mock-up at the Bassmaster Classic and the design was a huge hit.

The bucket-top tackle box is in the new product lineup for 2009.

2009 New Venture Challenge

I coached Masala Wala for the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge in 2009. They split second place with two other teams. It was a concept for an Indian food restarant. I thought they did a very nice job.

The winners were Bump Technologies that made an iPod application and a company called Nine Naturals that makes shampoo for pregnant women. They were tough competitors.

Since winning the NVC in 2003 I’ve coached six teams. Four have won first place, one has won second place, and one didn’t follow my advice. The other winning teams were:

The New Venture Challenge is a great experience– certainly the most educational part of my MBA.

I also coached the Global NVC in London in 2009. I spent several hours with about 20 teams.

Ecommerce Patent

In 2000 I worked for a company called Bissell in Grand Rapids, MI. It was one of the best jobs I ever had. My boss, a guy named Jim Krzeminski, was a great boss. He worked hard to push the envelop and help turn Bissell into the leader in Home Cleaning.

While I was there I lead a redesign of the company’s e-commerce Web site. It was one of the most successful projects I’ve ever worked on. Jim made sure that nothing got in the way.

One of the features on the site was a check-box ordering system that allowed a user to simply check-off related items on a product page to add them to the cart with the main product. It is a simple concept, but at the time is was very new. We applied for a patent on the technology. I’m not sure if the patent was issued.

Bissell Screen Shot

Checking any of the boxes in the “Don’t Forget” section adds the accessory to the cart along with the main product when the add to cart button is clicked.

The site was designed by Daniel Arsenault. A very talented artist. I’ve worked with him on a number of projects since then.


When my mom worked at Hallmark Cards she had a boss that used to have good advice for artists who had run out of ideas. He would say, “whenever you are completely drained and have absolutely no ideas for anything. Sit down and do it anyway.”

VCI and HP

My company, Vicarious Communications, Inc. was featured in this promotional video for HP Indigo Printers.

I got hooked up with them through Elk Grove Graphics, a company that did our printing. Mike Stanley is their top salesman. He is now a friend of mine and I have worked with him on a number of jobs since leaving Vicarious.

When I lived in Grand Rapids I started a side business selling hats and bags made from old sailcloth. I took all the old, worn-out sails from the local sailing club, washed them and cut them into strips of cloth that could then be sent to the manufacturer to be made into hats. They were very cool, but posed a significant manufacturing risk. Most hat material has a certain degree of elasticity. Sailcloth, however, is designed to be rigid. This caused problems for the manufacturers who kept breaking dies when they cut the cloth. It took me a while to find a manufacturer that would make them at all. Most of them wouldn’t complete more than one order.

I advertised in magazines and online. I sold quite a few, but not enough to make the venture worth the time and effort. Several years later another company emerged that appears much more successful. The company, SeaBags, makes mostly bags.

The name With Anchovies was the original name of a company I started in college called Bananagraphics. The idea was to put little fish on the designs so everything would come “with anchovies.” I abandoned the name when the fish I drew looked more like dolphins.