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The Buzz: Invention comes to life through 'crowd-funding'

Feb. 2, 2013
 

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Brian Davis of Appleton is an avid bicyclist and knows a set of tools can come in handy if a quick repair is needed while riding.

About a year ago, Davis, 36, came up with an idea for a pocket-sized tool, a two-piece design tipped with different ends, including a screwdriver, which can be combined to form a T-handle giving the user a wider grip. He calls his invention Fix It Sticks.

“You don’t have a lot of room to carry things when you’re biking, so I wanted to create something that was portable and practical for a cyclist,” he said.

But like any inventor, he knew it would take resources to make his idea a reality. Davis first approached First National Bank-Fox Valley in Neenah, which provided him with a line of credit to help him cover engineering and other start-up costs, but he knew he needed more funds to bring it to market so he turned to crowd-funding, a method many entrepreneurs are turning to that involves raising money through a large number of people usually through the Internet.

Davis utilized Kickstarter.com, a crowd-funding website that since its launch in April 2009 has raised more than $450 million in pledges from about 3 million people, who have provided funding for more than 35,000 projects.

Davis is pleased by the response and hopes to begin shipping orders by April, once the funds raised by his campaign are released to him March 1, 15 days after his campaign ends Feb. 15.

Davis used many local resources to help him develop his invention. The Fab Lab at Fox Valley Technical College helped develop a prototype and J&J Machine in Appleton was contracted to mass produce the tool.

“We’ve made about 150 prototypes and we’ll be able to make more, so delivery to those who made pledges shouldn’t be a problem,” Davis said.

Davis’ Kickstarter campaign launched Jan. 16 and so far he has lured backing from 555 people who have pledged about $27,861 through Wednesday. A pledge of $25 will give someone one set of Fix It Sticks.

Information on Kickstarter’s website says its a funding platform for creative projects. Films, games, music, art, design and technology have raised funds through Kickstarter, the website said.

Not all Kickstarter campaigns are successful. Davis said if he failed to raise at least $18,000 by the end of his 30-day campaign, those who pledged funds get their money back.

That appealed to Davis.

“Since we surpassed our goal, we’ll be able to fill the orders,” he said.

His Kickstarter campaign can be found at www.fixitsticks.com.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports