Building a better mousetrap in Pueblo – Opinion – BC Democrat Online – Las Animas, CO


I’m absolutely convinced there’s only one thing stopping me from making a fortune as an entrepreneur. That would be my lack of practical business ideas.

Take my latest, for example. I’d love to open a Greek restaurant here in Pueblo and name it Home of Gyros. My problem is that I have absolutely no knowledge about how to prepare or sell Greek food.

That doesn’t mean I don’t respect entrepreneurs, though. I think it’s really cool that computer whiz David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, grew up in Pueblo. And after attending the Southern Colorado Entrepreneurship Competition last weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pueblo produces another son or daughter who goes on to find Packard-like success. And maybe much sooner than we might think.

The competition was spread over two days, one for students and one for adults. I decided to attend the first day of competition, when the students were making their presentations to a panel of judges at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Healy Center. It was an eye-opening experience.

I have to admit that I was expecting some of the young entrepreneurs’ products would be impractical or maybe even downright silly. You know, sort of like this column. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For example, two of the early presenters were Alyson Buchanan and Sariah Ringlero, fifth graders at Pueblo School for Arts and Sciences-Fulton Heights campus who had come up with a “poo dozer,” sort of like an outdoor vacuum cleaner for picking up animal waste.

They outlined their market research, which, if you’ll pardon the pun, was Spot on. As someone who lives with the owner of two dogs, I can verify that such a product would be well received by people who like to wear sandals in their backyards. One of the contest’s judges suggested that Buchanan and Ringlero price their product higher, up to maybe $200 or so, because of its potential to end fights among family members over whose turn it is to pick up after the dog.

Mya Sanchez and Lanae Vigil, also PSAS fifth graders, came up with a different kind of cleaning product called the “Handy-tizer.” It’s a portable hand-washing device that could be installed in places like parks or homeless shelters. Since the Handy-tizer is small enough to fit into a backpack, it was noted that it could also be used at sporting events and camping or hiking trips.

Jonothan Bendixson, a PSAS sixth grader, had an invention designed to attack sanitation on a larger scale. His is a device to filter trash out of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo and other waterways like it around the country.

(By the way, if it seems like I’m plugging a lot of PSAS students, there’s a reason for that. Most of the students entered into the competition were PSAS products. Do with that information what you will.)

Seth Combs, Benjamin Nava-Pacheco and Jackson Coy, PSAS sixth graders with an interest in military veterans, came up with one-size-fits-all prosthetic arms created by 3-D printing technology. The trio calculated what they thought would be a reasonable price for the product, multiplied that figure by the number of people in the country in need of artificial limbs, and concluded their potential revenue stream at $7.4 million per year. “If you guys are interested in investing in us,” one of them quipped to the audience.

Then there were Chace Hurley and Florencio Gonzales, PSAS fifth graders, who came up with a product designed to hit Pueblo residents right in the seat of the pants. They designed a website that would allow drivers to track the locations of the city’s reported potholes. Hurley and Gonzales calculated that they could make money by selling advertisements on the website.

The judges seemed to approve. One predicted insurance companies would have an interest in investing in the website. Another judge suggested that one or both of the entrepreneurs consider running for mayor some day, noting that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers made fixing pothole problems one of his signature campaign issues.

I didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony, but Bendixson and the trio of Combs, Nava-Pacheco and Coy were among the winners of either scholarships or cash prizes. In my mind, though, the real winners will be the public if and when some of these great inventions go into mass production.

Maybe then I can convince one of the inventors to invest in my Home of Gyros idea.

Blake Fontenay, The Chieftain’s opinion page editor, is new to Pueblo. His column, Pueblo 101, describes what it’s like to see the city through the eyes of a newcomer. To make comments or offer suggestions on what he should try next, email him at bfontenay@chieftain.com.

 



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