Meet Rob, Caleb, Jono and Travis, professional product developers from Chicago. Read how Team Prod Ops worked as a team and their experiences on Make48.

What made you want to be a part of Make48?

Make48 is the ultimate competition any maker and inventor wants to be a part of — the ability to idealize, design, prototype and then pitch your idea to interested people. Having direct access to subject matter experts throughout the entire product design lifecycle is something that usually doesn’t happen, but Make48 provided the platform for unencumbered inventing!

What was it like working as a team? Was it what you expected?

Teamwork makes the dream work. When putting together the team, we brought together many skill sets which we knew would work well together and would balance out the team. The techy guy did techy things, the sales guy did sale pitches, our engineer helped design our product for manufacturing. We were a well-rounded team!

What advantages did each of you bring to the team?

Each of us had unique skills:

Caleb – Engineer that can design anything to make it work. This guy is full of dad jokes and product ideas that will make your head hurt!

Jono – Tech to the MAX. Jono is actually part robot and part human, pretty much understands technology better than technology itself.

Travis – Team muscle, every team needs it. Travis is the guy on the dodgeball court that is the first off the line and runs and kicks all the balls back to his team at the start of a game. During the Make48 competition, be sure to keep a watchful eye on Travis’ tactics…

Rob – Dream big, and then sell it! Don’t forget, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and our designs were HOT HOT HOT! Squirt and Spread will get you fed, just make sure you don’t say it backwards.

What was the most difficult part of the competition? Roadblocks, setbacks? 

We believe the most difficult part of the competition was twofold — first was the scope was so large. We were coming up with innovative outdoor ideas from campfires to basketball courts — having such a large scope made it hard to downselect which ideas we wanted to pursue. Second, our ideas had to have legs in the patent world, which meant some of our ideas had to be scrapped that we really liked!

What did you learn from the Make48 event, how did the experience help you as an inventor?

Make48 showed us how dynamic and flexible you have to be when inventing. You may come up with an idea and what you deliver may be completely different than the original concept as you continue to finetune the product. Throughout the design and prototype process, the product continues to transform, and you have to be accepting of some of the constraints (e.g., you can’t use premium materials because the cost point will be too high and can’t sell the final product at that cost).

Looking back, anything you would’ve done differently?

Our team wasted almost half the competition coming up with ideas, a lot were scrapped due to patent infringement issues. We wish we took a simpler approach and tried to design something a bit less complex. About 3/4ths of the way through the competition we didn’t have time left, so we ended up with a funny idea that would be fun to pitch.

Overall what was the best part of the Make48 experience?

The best part of Make48 was the opportunity to compete on a platform that most people can only imagine. There is support needed at every turn, it’s electric having so many inventors in one spot. Also, the facilitators and hosts were awesome, we’ve become close friends and have stayed in contact with many of the Make48 team post competition.

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