1- What is your favorite non-tech product ever created?
I received a classic Swiss Army Knife for Christmas as a kid, and I still consistently find various uses for that handy little device. I also love the Gear Ties from Nite Ize. They are just so simple and versatile.
2- What is your favorite toy you have ever owned and why?
Besides my many legions of action figures, I loved playing with Spinjas, created by the Japanese toy company, Tomy. Spinjas were a series of mini, spinning top characters that battled it out in a large, plastic arena. The tops were loaded and launched from a ratcheted winder into the arena, and would ricochet off each other until the only one Spinja remained. I loved that you could place all of the different characters into the stands of the arena so they could witness all of the carnage! I’m suddenly feeling very nostalgic…
3- What do you think is the most overlooked stage in product design?
Customer development, which is a way to validate the right market for an idea. All too often, entrepreneurs and brands develop new products based off of what they like or what they think the customer wants. Oftentimes they spend too much time away from their target customers and forget how fickle the end-user can be.
4- You enjoy camping and the outdoors, if you could have a product magically created for you in that industry, what would it be?
I would love to develop a backpack lined with enough pockets of helium to make the contents inside of it lighter to carry. Good business sense? No. Ethical? Probably not. But the concept is interesting!
5- What is the most important invention/product ever created?
Outside of the obviously inventions like the wheel, the light bulb and the combustion engine, I would have to say the internet! It has become such an integral part of our daily lives.
6- What product categories do you see doing very well in today’s market and economy?
With everyone being constantly inundated with next-gen technology, flooded by ads and overwhelmed with all the ways to stay connected, I think that simpler products could make some noise. Imagine a modern take on the old cell phone that only has the capability to call, text, and email, but is well-made, inexpensive and looks great. Ok, so that probably won’t catch on but I think it would be a breath of fresh air!
7- What is your favorite product category to develop?
Toys for kids and toys for pets. Both are almost recession-proof and allows us to develop some really fun and wild ideas.
8- What is the number one key to success in developing a product?
Similar to the most overlooked aspect of product development, I think that having a complete understanding of the customer is crucial. Even if a brand is always targeting the same type of end-user, that person’s taste can change for a variety of reasons, and can be dictated by your direct competitor. If you have a comprehensive understanding of the consumer and target market, everything else will fall into place.
9- What is your favorite housewares product you’ve ever owned and why?
I would have to say my NutriBullet. It has a great design, is compact and easy to clean, and it allows me to quickly create a lot of different and healthy drinks (and margaritas).
10- What is your favorite product Cardboard Helicopter has designed?
I really love the Metal Sliders for Quirky. They are very sleek and masculine, and one of those no-brainer products that we were lucky enough to be a part of from the ground up.