Meet John and Gina, the husband-wife Virginia duo that makes Team Porch Pirates.
What made you want to be a part of Make48?
We were debuting our first invention at INPEX 2017, America’s largest invention expo, where we had the good fortune to meet Tom Gray and he invited us to apply for Make48. Having just spent 7 months developing our idea into a viable prototype the thought of creating something in just 48 hours seemed crazy- but possible.
What was it like working as a team, was it what you expected?
We weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but it turned out to be much, much more difficult than we would have imagined. Compressing the development time also removed all the time for the niceties of working together. It really was the most taxing experience on our relationship we have done as a couple.
How did you go about putting your team together?
We have been a team since we met. No matter what the adventure, be it skydiving, scuba diving, white water rafting, triathlons or bringing a new product to market, we do it together. When faced with the challenge of Make48 we thought a team of 2 would be more streamlined when it came to making decisions and dividing and conquering.
What advantages did each of you bring to the team?
Initially, we thought John would be more the creative and Gina the logistics. But once there and faced the pressure of the task, and us wanting to do a great job, both pushed for our own ideas. What we thought would be advantages, were lost to our competitive natures and confidence in our own ideas.
What was the most difficult part of the competition? Roadblocks, setbacks?
Working together in tight spaces, timelines, and self-imposed expectations were the biggest challenges. Surprisingly, nothing really came easy. We were proud of our final product, but it became a real eye-opener to our relationship. We were very disappointed in our final presentation because we failed to meet our own expectations.
What did you learn from the Make48 event, how did the experience help you as an inventor?
With a little help from the right people (the incredible techs!) and the right equipment (all the high-tech prototyping machines), it is possible to bring a new product from concept to prototype in a very short time. There really is no excuse for not touching your dreams and seeing if they fit the market need you are trying to address.
Looking back, anything you would’ve done differently?
Two things: bring a team of 4 and create a simplified product. Although it might have been easier to make decisions with a team of 2, there was just too much work for 2 people to accomplish well enough. Our product was not all that complicated, but it did have 4 or 5 distinct components. In hindsight we should have limited our concept to at most 2.
Overall what was the best part of the Make48 experience?
It was so great working with the techs. They quickly understood the new concepts, remained patient with the contestants that were stressed and sometimes short-tempered, while everyone was vying for their time and pulling them in different directions. They really knew the prototyping software and hardware and made very useful suggestions for moving from concept to product. We would love to spend more time with our techs now, they are welcome anytime for dinner and hanging out just to talk about inventing.