Our InvENtor Spotlight for November is on Robert Bahn! Jim has been a member of the Edison Nation community since 2012 and is an active Insider!
Where is your hometown?
Born in Blytheville, Arkansas. Graduated in 1966 and joined the Navy to get out of Blytheville.
Where do you currently reside?
I have pretty much lived in Jonesboro, Arkansas since I got out of the Navy in 1969.
What is your professional background?
School 17 years, 3 years in Navy. I was enrolled for 4 years at Arkansas State University with BS, 1 year as a Student Program Adviser at Kansas State University, 1 year more college and working at a monument shop, then moved into a role as a Athletic Business Manager at Arkansas State University for 2 years. I’ve also been in banking, mortgage lending for 31 years.
Now I work as a business consultant for Arkansas State University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (9 years). I work with people who want to start a business or expand their business.
I also work with lots of inventors who want to know the different issues and challenges they have to overcome. I give advice, (not legal) on the different ways to go with an invention.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I stumbled across it looking on the internet for invention help. Read up on three or four different companies and EN fit my personality and pocketbook.
What inspired you to start inventing?
I have always looked for a better way to do things. Like most lazy people do. Better means less effort on my part doing it a different way. Which is what inventing is to me.
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
They just come to me when a situation comes to me and I think about a better way.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
My wife swept the kitchen and she wanted me to pick up the trash. I got the small dustpan and small broom and swept the trash in the dustpan. But some of it went over the edge and some came out as I walked to the trash to throw away. I thought there must be a better way.
So I first had a dustpan with sticky stuff on it and you swept stuff in and it stuck to the peel off sticky thing. I use the lint removal sheets on the roll for my first version. It looked nasty and my wife said get it out of here. I then came up with a different design that was big enough to have debris sweep in it and the stuff did not come out when you walked toward the trash can. It is enclosed on four sides, open in the front. It is triangle in shape and fits into a corner. In fact it stays in the corner all the time and debris is swept in and does not bother anyone just sitting there.
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project?
There were three of us that came up with four ideas based upon an EN search for beach products. It was great fun. We are all members of the Northeast Arkansas Inventors Club.
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
Legal stuff with inventions/inventors is a pain. Now I know why patent attorneys get paid for what they do. I could never do that type of work.
You have been an EN member since 2012, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
I believe I have submitted 16 different ideas. None with any moving parts so they were pretty basic. My ideas have been reviewed very well and my turn downs have always been easy and understandable except for my triangle dust pan. The example of what was already patented was a reach as far as a design patent, but EN knows more than I do and I have not gone any further with the product idea. I know I can make some changes and adjustments and submit again, but the fun is coming up with the idea and submitting it is an adventure. Someday I hope to come up with “the one”.
I remember when Swiffer came out. I made something similar at my house about 7 years earlier. I know lots of inventors have the same thing happen to them. Best thing to do is just submit to EN as soon as possible and let them take the lead.
What advice would you tell others embarking on their own invention journeys?
Go into it to have fun. Do not worry about someone stealing your ideas.
Also doing nothing is not a good idea either. That is why I like dealing with EN. I love it when there is a new “Search”. I remember one day at work seeing a new search and took a break for 15 minutes and submitted two ideas. I keep extra cardboard behind my credenza.
What would you consider as your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
My biggest failure is not submitting two ideas a month like I originally thought.
Since becoming a member I have only submitted 16 ideas, That is on me. I have about 60 ideas I have not even submitted. Failure is on my not submitting ideas. I love the magazine and it helps me realize how difficult it is to have an invention that pays money.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I was in a movie with Michael Caine. Too Late the Hero, you may have seen me. I was one of about 200 extras, when I was in the Navy on board the USS Kitty Hawk CVA 65 (Attaché aircraft carrier) and they were looking for extras. It paid $5 a day. I got to talk to actor, Michael Caine. He was a wonderful person and easy to talk to.
I learned so much from being in the military, many skills and how to work with others.
I booked Jimmy Buffett (1972) to open for the Association in concert while I was in college. Bought Jimmy a hamburger at Shoney’s which he said he would pay me back, (has not). His price was $500.
I’m also married, with two children who roll their eyes when I say “Have I told you about my latest idea?”.