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This Missouri family teamed up to create their best product yet! Already inventors in their own right, the TeamInator’s think they can solve the problems of the Make48 challenge.

What made you want to be a part of Make48?

Taunia ran across the Make48 competition in 2016 in an online search related to inventing. Being from Missouri, it was exciting to us that such a cool competition was so close to home. We thought it would be fun, and it would be a good opportunity to make local contacts with experts and learn about resources that may be helpful for our other inventions. Unfortunately, by the time we discovered the competition, we had missed the application cutoff. We signed up for the Make48 emails and when the 2017 competition was announced, we wanted in! Ashleigh, our niece who lives in Kansas City, was also able to easily bring her creative skills to our team.

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

Since we were a family team (husband, wife, and niece), working together was not new to us. That said, having the tight time-frame of 48 hours did add some stress! We really didn’t know what to expect from the event itself. As procrastinators with lots going on, we didn’t actually get our application video in until the last minute – meaning the day it was due. We didn’t realize until after we had been selected that the competition was being made into a television show, so that was a big surprise! The next thing we knew, it was time to be in Kansas City, so we didn’t get a lot of research done on the competition.

How did you go about putting your team together?

Being married and having already gone through the inventing and producing process, we knew from the beginning that we were going to be the team. When we realized that Ashleigh was also available during that time-frame, we knew we could use her expertise, so we recruited her to TeamInator.

What advantages did each of you bring to the team?

Everyone brought creative thinking and problem-solving to the table, but Tom is the true tinkerer, engineer, and builder. Taunia is good at identifying weaknesses and/or suggesting improvements as ideas and models unfold. She also brings the business experience which was helpful for researching and building the website and the pitch. Ashleigh helped keep us grounded as we thought through ideas and was a great buffer for Tom and Taunia, lol.

What was the most difficult part of the competition?

The most difficult part of the competition was settling on an idea. We actually made it much more difficult than it needed to be. In hindsight, we should have stuck with one of our first ideas because it would have simplified the design and prototyping process.

What did you learn from the Make48 event?

Working under deadline crunches was nothing new to us, so Make 48’s 48-hour window seemed like an opportunity to really see what we could do with a devoted, concerted effort.

The competition let us confirm that indeed we can get a lot done in a short period of time, particularly when all of the resources and expertise that we need are at our fingertips.

How did the experience help you as an inventor?

The one thing that became clear through the Make 48 competition, and which has helped us as inventors, is that we need to spend more time thinking about the people in between us and our consumers. Those people may not be our ultimate consumer, but it’s very important for them to understand the problem that we have identified and why our solution makes sense.  Ultimately, we have to know and understand all of our audiences, not just the end consumer.

Looking back, anything you would’ve done differently?

We definitely would have done more research on the actual competition before we showed up so that we could understand what the judges were looking for and why. That would have let us know that we could have simplified our product. That also may have clued us in to bring a fourth member to our team. A fourth member would have just bought another perspective that would have been helpful as we honed in on a final product idea. The other thing we would have done differently is conducting more tests on the components of our product before jumping into the 3D production.

Overall what was the best part of the Make48 experience?

The best part of the Make48 experience was meeting the people. That includes the other teams and the organizers, but it was especially great to meet and interact with the Tool Techs. Being inventors themselves, they understand how our minds work and were able to guide us and provide us with food for thought. Having the resources of all the technology and expertise was a dream come true.

It has led Tom to actually start buying the right tools to get the job done better and faster. It was great to learn from those that have had the same struggles and who have overcome those challenges. Being part of Make 48 and meeting all of the people involved helped open our eyes to real-world issues and to all the possibilities!

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