The 25-person development firm that caters to inventors, design and modern technology is the all-encompassing Mako Design + Invent. With offices in 4 cities across the globe — Toronto, Austin, UK, and (soon) Shanghai — it was the first firm in North America to offer full-service professional physical consumer product development services to start-ups, and is now the largest firm in the industry in both Canada, Texas and Florida.
Mako was developed and incorporated while Kevin was still in University. The founder of MAKO Design + Invent’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited during his early teenage years when he started several ultra-small businesses that built a wealth of knowledge and experience for his eventual life passion, MAKO.
MAKO Design + Invent provides home inventors and product developers with end-to-end product development services that turn invention ideas into successful businesses. Kevin grew the company to be a complete grassroots business, organically built with zero financing, debt, or investors. He spends a great deal of time progressing the product development industry as a whole, through guest speaking engagements, building robust strategic partnerships and advancing entrepreneurship through initiatives such as, The Industrial Design Guild, Inventors Meetups, and the MAKO Student Innovation Awards at Ryerson.
Honored for his outstanding leadership and rapid business development, MAKO was named one of the best companies by Entrepreneur Magazine as well as Inc’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list. A strong believer in the entrepreneurial spirit, Kevin also spends time with individuals and startups as personal investors and one-on-one mentorship, helping them develop their own business.
If he could go back, Kevin would tell himself to, “Remember the journey. To get to the goal is just as important (and enjoyable) as achieving the goal.” Kevin was attending the Richard Ivey School of Business, when he began MAKO in his third year. He graduated with an additional specialization in Entrepreneurship and continued his education at the University of Hong Kong, studying manufacturing and supply chain management. I asked Kevin about the next generation of product designers and his advice to them.
What education/skills does it take to be a product designer?
At MAKO there’s quite a bit of science, technology, engineering and mathematics used everyday. Our team is made up of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, industrial engineers and industrial designers. Obviously, each of these roles are heavily involved in the engineering process as they are bringing physical product ideas from just a concept to reality every day.
The level of science, tech, or math may vary depending on the complexity of the product. For example, we recently worked on exercise equipment that was going to be used to train one of the National Hockey League teams. This type of project will involve substantial mathematics to understand the force of weights, and how subsequent weights, pulleys, or levers, will interact with increasing or decreasing levels of force.
Conversely, we’ve also worked on another project called the Go Fish Cam, which is basically an underwater fishing camera. You would use this product to record the fish you have on the line, to understand how it bites, why you did or didn’t end up catching it, and more. This type of project is heavier on the science and technology elements. In this case, you need waterproof cameras, waterproof electronics, and the integration of all this equipment to withstand the force of intense underwater currents and even more intense underwater fish!
Mako was the product development firm for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay – Dreamvention contest. How important is it for Mako to work with young minds and education?
Not only is it our mission to develop the invention ideas of today, but also integral to our values that we help develop the young minds that will lead us tomorrow. Working with PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay on the national inventing contest for kids, fittingly named Dreamvention, was an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only did we work alongside ABC’s Shark Tank Star Robert Herjevac, but also alongside How I Met Your Mother’s star, Cobie Smulders. Together, we brought this contest to life and ended up producing 10 of the best invention ideas for these young inventors, and also awarded the winner from each year with a life-changing $250,000!
In addition to the annual Dreamvention contest, Mako also works closely with a number of universities including Texas State, Ryerson, and Queen’s University by participating in guest lectures, case competitions, and annual awards. For example, at Ryerson University, there is the Mako Student Innovation Award, where the student with the most innovative product or business idea wins a grant of $10,500 to help get their business launched towards success.
On this season of Make48’s College v. College, many students were engineering or design students/graduates . What advice would you give the next generation of designers?
If design is your passion, start designing today. Don’t wait for your next school project to make something amazing!