Coming from Houston, Texas, welcome the Space City Makers! Bob, an engineer with NASA, auditioned his family (unbeknownst to them) at the National Hardware Show. But this family loves seeking adventure together! Meet Bob (husband), Denise (wife), Alison (daughter) and Kevin (son).  

What made you want to be a part of Make48?

Bob: When I heard about Make 48 at the National Hardware Show, I knew I had to do it. It looked to me to be an incredible opportunity to compete at invention, which is just a great idea. So American! I also saw this as about as much fun as you could have over a weekend.

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

Alison: My family is very like-minded so the general ideas we had didn’t clash very much, but the details of the product mixed with long hours of brainstorming left us with short fuses. I expected frustration, but it’s a competition of endurance and motivation so we persisted and took naps.

What advantages did each of you bring to the team?

Bob: The whole family brought great ideas to our brainstorming session. Alison and Kevin absolutely shined making the product video! Denise sewed and put together our full-size prototype. Alison makes a mannequin out of cardboard that other teams still remember. I made the foot pedal deployment mechanism, and we all contributed to the demos and presentations along the way.

What was the most difficult part of the competition?

Alison: The hardest part was deciding what product to go with for the competition; we all had to agree on it. That was where all the frustration lied, but once it was set, everything else was defined and clear.

What came easier for your team?

Bob: The whole thing really went very smoothly for us. We finished everything we planned to do with minutes to spare, and everything worked! Our only disappointment was not producing a winning idea, so that’s why we are motivated to do this again, if we ever get the chance.

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

Alison: I learned a lot from the marketing side of inventions and specifically on the last day with the judges. We talked with a few after the competition and they described the strict qualifications a product needed to be successful.

Looking back, anything you would’ve done differently?
Bob: If we were to compete again, we will consider everything including the final package at inception. We will also be harder on ideas, and perhaps spend more time selecting the concept to go with. No matter how well executed, a bad idea doesn’t get better. A good idea will shine through even a poor development effort.

Alison: And as a team, what we should’ve done differently was to make something with efficient packaging, cheap to make, but also something we may not want ourselves. We tried to make something we would want but that doesn’t always sell.

Overall what was the best part of the Make48 experience?

Bob: Beyond the unique family bonding experience, working with the crew and the other teams were just a blast! Everybody had a great attitude, and only wished the best of the other teams. In that sense, it didn’t feel like an ‘every man for himself’ competitive environment. The ideas we were building were getting competed against each other, but bringing them to fruition was something that you didn’t mind helping someone out with.

Alison: I loved that everyone was having fun trying to make something, it was an interesting environment that I don’t think I’ll experience again.

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