John Bacino Holds the Slippery Coat of Innovation

John Bacino Holds the Slippery Coat of Innovation

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 29, 2015

If you’ve ever marveled at the way food slides out of your frying pan, you can thank John Bacino. The same goes for Glide dental floss, with its talent for slipping effortlessly between your tightly spaced teeth. He’s even the man behind the sinfully smooth feel of those Elixir strings on your guitar. And anyone who raced a mountain bike in the late 1990s remembers the maintenance-free magic of RideOn shift and brake cables.

“Knowing a need and filling it was an early lesson I learned,” says John. That lesson led to a long and illustrious career at W.L. Gore, and spurred him to launch a company in his retirement.

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It’s Not About Mushrooms
“I grew up in Avondale on a mushroom farm,” muses John. “I knew there was one thing I didn’t want to do, and that was mushroom farming.”

Instead, he focused on inventing. “I started making Teflon-type dispersions and spraying them on an industrial scale, taking the powder and turning it into a spray.” With his method, he was able to produce a thicker coating of Teflon, perfect for applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor industries.

He sold several of his patented ideas to W.L. Gore in 1981 and joined the team, eventually moving into developing membrane material. “All of a sudden I became a person to go to in order to develop a new material.”

The first generation of the material was intended for computers, but John—and the Gore philosophy—didn’t stop there.

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The Ingenuity Team
John and his team wrapped the thin, flexible material around bicycle cables, and RideOn cables were born. The sealed braking and shifting systems virtually eliminated the traditional maintenance cycle of cleaning and lubricating. Mountain bikers loved them, but so did other people. “Somebody at a company in Florida saw the cables and asked if we could make the material for puppet strings.”

John formed the Ingenuity Team at Gore to explore new uses of the products. The durable, dirt-resistant membrane found its way onto guitar strings and even into dental floss.

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HOOP-IT
John retired from Gore last April, but he’d already been plotting a retirement filled with innovation. “I was at the gym working out. I noticed that everybody who came up beside me, the first thing they’d do was to untangle their ear buds. It was minutes of wasted time.”

The relentless inventor in him decided to take a shot at designing a solution, and HOOP-IT was born. Holding up a Ziploc bag filled with early prototypes, he describes the first version. “I glued 2 magnets to a cog belt. You could open it with one hand. Other versions on the market use Velcro or a snap and need 2 hands to open.”

Size matters. “I used silicon wrist bands, but I needed a smaller size. So I found children’s wristbands.

Durability matters, too. “Every time I glued magnets on they fell off.”

He finally got a version he was happy with, made a bunch, and took them to a fitness club in Hockessin to sell them. “I sold 50 in 2 hours at $8 a piece. Another guy came back and bought 14 to give to his kids and people at work.” John new he had a hot seller.

Even today, as he thinks about scaling up for mass production, he’s still tinkering with the design. “The inventor in me is never happy.”

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 24, 2015

 

We ABSOLUTELY loved the#RAIN2015 energy @UCScienceCenter. Chris and I attempted to build a list of 5 things that we learned, but there was too much goodness! So, we added one more to the list.

 

1. We need more selfless outreach across our entire Ecosystem:

 

 

2.  Philly’s competing on a global stage:

 

 

 

3.  People pleasing will get you nowhere:

 

 

4.  Collaboration is not limited startups:

 

 

 

5.  Corporations require some serious flexibility:

 

 

6. Be mindful of the ‘David and Goliath’ heuristic:

 

 

 

If anyone out there is thinking to themselves: “Hey Ben! You put you’re own tweet in that blog you made.” My response is,”I know, I know.. only because no one else tweeted this quote”. See you next year!

 

Night Owls Demo w/ myZyp

Night Owls Demo w/ myZyp

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 23, 2015

myZyp.com @myZypInfo @HSamant01 What was the problem your app aims to solve? “Communicating and sharing address and location information, on social media via mobile devices or even verbally, involves the creation and exchange of address information (house #, street, city etc.), sometimes along with landmark based directions, and cryptic links to maps. An even bigger issue in the developing world is that there is no structured addressing scheme, making address location extremely difficult.” How does your app solve this problem? “myZyp wants to change this, and make zyptags (that begin with an &) as easy to create, share, and find, as hashtags. However, unlike hashtags, zyptags also store rich location information (geo-coordinates, postal address, landmark based directions etc.) on the back end, which allows the person looking up the tag on the myZyp app, a quick and easy way to find and get directions to the location. Another cool feature is that the creator of the tag can change the address or location behind the tag, which is great for people or events that relocate or move. For example a food truck that moves around need not update its customers about its location every day – just update the location info at & JoesFoodTruck.” What’s next for your app/ goals/ vision for this year? “While the iOS app and website are now live, we will be releasing on Android and Windows soon. We are also working on a bunch of new features to enhance search, and deeper integration with social media. Our ultimate vision is to make the zyptag as ubiquitous as the hashtag, when it comes to locations.”

Recruitment, Charlie Rose in a Hoodie, and then a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Video Shoot

Recruitment, Charlie Rose in a Hoodie, and then a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Video Shoot

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 21, 2015

First came Walnut St. Labs—a clubhouse for the nerdy and artistic. Then we started doing events to highlight innovators. Then we started doing videos of the events. Then more people came to the events. And so we did more videos.

Then we started getting questions: do you know someone who can _________? And, hey, we need a _____________—let me know if you know anyone.

So we built TechJobs—a job board.

Job boards are pretty boring and definitely not innovative. So we thought we’d do videos by visiting businesses who posted jobs on our board. We’re true believers when it comes to video marketing—as long as it’s sans-slick. That is, it’s got to be real. Authentic. Unfiltered.

We like realism. We don’t like scripting stuff out. We like “to see what happens”.

So the folks at Coldlight agreed to give video content marketing a try. On the way there, we came up with TechTours. “Like Charlie Rose in a hoodie,” I said.  Or VH1 Behind the Music, but with hackers and technologists.

That was an awesomely fun time. Check it out yourself:

 

 

After watching it a bunch of times we thought: “Damn, this is way better than a job board!! EVERY company looking to fill a position should do a video like this.”

Does your company have a video like this?

Are you willing to open the doors to your organization and let your team talk to the world about why they love working there?

Holy #[email protected]! That’s scary! It takes courage!!

Actually, it doesn’t.

It takes confidence in your people, in your culture. It takes the belief that transparency trumps everything else. Be who you are—people (and prospective employees) will like you and your company much more.

And the relationship will probably endure longer.

So here’s our bet—and why we started a job board that’s really just a trojan horse (we’re on our way to your office with our camera crew!): “Charlie Rose in a hoodie” is on a mission to remake recruiting from the ground up.

If you get the cameras rolling, you just might be surprised by how many employees volunteer to do a testimonial. And that’s the exact moment when all the magic starts to happen.

Check out LetsWorkChes.co

 

The “Invisible Inventor” Robert Morris

The “Invisible Inventor” Robert Morris

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 17, 2015

“I’ve made things that touch your life but you don’t know who I am.” It takes awhile to comprehend the magnitude of inventor Robert Morris’ journey. After telling us how he invented multimedia, he’s now moved onto the web browser. And the list of inventions doesn’t stop there. The title of his presentation, “How I Changed the World and Kept my Privacy,” contains a certain irony. While it suggests intentional ownership of that privacy, the situation is actually the result, to a large extent, of others taking his ideas. DSC_2380 Multimedia Robert’s first big invention was a linear video program called V_GRAPH that allowed for video sharing between computers. It was the early 1980s, and “People were used to computers connecting to each other using text, not video,” says Robert. He took the prototype to a friend, setting up the TV monitor that displayed video housed on a computer, and stood back so his friend could see it. “He didn’t get it. He was convinced there was a VCR attached to the TV. He couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing.” Robert then showed it to an investor, telling him, “You’re going to have multimedia on every desktop in 5 years. He told me I was crazy. But that was the same person who turned down Steve Jobs so I don’t feel so bad.” Robert and his partner struck a deal for V_GRAPH to be bundled as a part of a software package for creatives from a company called Tempra Media. But through a series of missteps, Robert lost out on the financial windfall from his invention when the company became the subject of several patent disputes in the late 1990s. DSC_2413 The Web His next project was an object-oriented platform called Ozone. “It allowed multimedia components to be displayed in one view. It could run over the web.” Most significantly, the package included a web browser. Robert and his partner took it to Microsoft. “It was responsible for them getting the AOL contract instead of Netscape.” But Robert and his partner, on their shoestring development budget, hadn’t navigated the patent and copyright implications. Once again, they lost out on the big time to a company with far greater resources. A similar fate befell an early calendar product they designed. DSC_2393 On Doing Other Things Frustrated, Robert changed gears and wrote a book (working title: Inside the Revolution: The Story of Robert Morris). It’s about Robert’s namesake, who in addition to signing the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution, also served as Superintendent of Finance from 1781 to 1784. DSC_2459 On the Future, and “Working for the Man” Robert considers himself unsuited to be an employee. “I have to put my heart and soul into things. I’m too weird to get a job. I’m just a basic guy who comes up with something he thinks is a good idea.” His next big idea? Robots. “Not a creepy plastic person or a squeezy cat, though. It will be simple and useful like everything else I’ve made.” Stay tuned.