Aug 21, 2011 3:54 PM by Andy Koen
Rick Harper and Leo Mitchell have worked well together in the past. Rick, a bail bondsman, helps people get out of jail while Leo, a bounty hunter, makes sure they show up in court. But lately the two have been pulling extra hours making and shipping out orders of an invention Rick calls the Wind Sphere.
"I had a patio table set that flipped over and the tiles got broken on it," Rick said. Fixing the table was so expensive that he went to the hardware store looking for something that could anchor it down in the wind.
"I was just really stunned that there was no actual product that would hold the table down."
Frustrated, Rick went the garage and created his invention. The design is pretty straightforward; a length of plastic tubing sealed with a special cap on one end.
The Wind Sphere works by taking the place of a patio umbrella. The uncapped end is passed through the table down into an umbrella stand where it's fastened in place. The extra weight makes the table virtually immovable.
"The winds here typically get up to 65-75 miles an hour," Rick said. "With this, I've never had to go back and look out the window and worry about going out the next morning and finding the patio table flipped over."
In fact, it worked so well that Rick made a second one. Then his next door neighbor saw it and asked for one. From there the business began.
"I think it could be huge. Everybody with a patio table should have one, especially if you're in a windy area," Leo said.
While their "day jobs" may seem worlds apart from the invention industry, Leo says the job skills can overlap. For example, they're not easily intimidated in a board room.
"I don't really have a lot of fear," Leo said. "No doesn't scare me, yes is exciting."
Rick and Leo are making the Wind Sphere by hand and selling them for $20 (complete with a money back guarantee) via Craigslist and Facebook. They plan to launch their own website next month.
In the meantime, they're working to try and take the Wind Sphere to a national audience.
"It's our desire to get it on QVC, HSN," Rick said. "We are also very excited that we made some initial contact with Wal-mart."
As this retired Army Sergeant/bail bondsman/inventor and his bounty hunter/bread truck driver/business partner have shown, nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it.