On November 7, 2014, I attended the USPTO Smithsonian Innovation Festival at the National Air and Space Museum in DC. The innovation festival was created as a way to highlight and celebrate patent and trademark technology that has really inspired the innovative spirit within the United States. While there I made my way around to look at the many technologies that were on display. Companies such as Ford Motor Company, Qualcomm and Caterpiller had displays to showcase some of their current innovations. As you know, IPWatchdog follows and regularly writes about the technologies that these larger companies come up with. But at the festival, what struck me most, were the individual inventors who were there to proudly display the inventions they came up with to solve their individual, everyday problems. For this reason, I have decided to shine the spotlight on independent inventors who have patented their products and brought them to the marketplace. Some of these inventors have created companies around their technologies and others simply offer their products for sale.
One of those inventor’s, avid skateboarder Alexei Novitzky, was at the festival to display his unique invention. As a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering program at USF, Alexei wanted to solve his problem of needing to carry around a backpack in addition to his skateboard. For many students bicycles or scooters are an effective and efficient way to travel from class to class, especially when one is short on time or running late. But Alexei, like many others, chose to ride a skateboard. He didn’t like the idea of having to wear a backpack or having to carry items in his pockets, so he decided to combine the two items he needed, a skate board and backpack, into one item and his invention, the Skatecase, was born.
The first thing I made were skateboards that could fold up, but I didn’t like the process of folding them and putting them in my bag, so I scratched it. I then decided to put my books in my board. That’s when I made a simple prototype that worked extremely well.
Alexei built the first prototype himself out of two old skateboards, a 1″ x 2″ piece of wood with latches and hinges that he bought from The Home Depot. He used creative foam from Michael’s craft store and some old trucks and wheels he had lying around. His brother, Peter helped him with many of the early prototypes and designs.
Within a month of originally creating his invention he applied for a provisional patent. He originally applied for his patent because of a course he was taking at USF called “Communications And Design.” Throughout the course they designed a product and went over the different phases of the patent process. He then applied the skills he learned in that course and applied it to his own technology.
One of the professor’s names was Franco Lodato. He is a famous inventor and holds many patents. He was the first to suggest that I patent it and then later connected me to the department of patents and licensing at USF for the non-provisional patent.
Over the years following the creation of his invention, Alexei made improvements to the boards that have become, in his own words, “much prettier.” He has perfected the artwork on the boards, which now includes paint schemes, interior designs, and grip art. He also worked to streamline the woodwork process down to two hours per board when originally it took him eight hours per board to complete.
I asked Alexei how he brought his product to market and what other things he was doing with his brand.
Since I had a patent, I had to start a company and license the technology to it. After that I simply started by taking my boards to skateboard events. Then I built a website, started hosting my own events and sponsoring riders. Eventually the word spread. I didn’t have money to invest directly into marketing and that truly came from the fans of the boards. I also used my talent in piano playing to help promote the boards. I would do piano shows and put my technology on stage with me. I am proud to say that at this point there are articles in almost every language and in every country across the globe. I even had one of my boards in a TV show in Europe called “Gadget Man,” which is featured in over 30 countries in prime time. It turns out people really like the boards and think they are cool. My Skatecase was even VIP Entertainment at the annual fundraiser “Tech Jam” hosted at the Ritz in Ybor City.
I have turned the Skatecase into a cartoon character called Ollie. He is now fully animated and walks and talks with me in cartoon form. We go on rad adventures, like SCUBA diving, or do things like recycling garbage into skateboards and a half pipe. I also put Ollie into a coloring book that fits inside the board. I then decided to make it so that the cartoon characters were fully 3D printable as toys. Then, I turned the skateboard into an actual board game called “Ollie World,” to where the 3D printed characters are the game pieces and you spin the wheel as the dice. ,, He also has a card game where fans can collect and battle each other similar to Pokémon or Magic. There are also posters available.
As a young entrepreneur, Alexi funded this entire journey himself by securing small donations from family members and by creating jobs for himself including, lawn and landscaping services, handy man services, tutoring calculus, teaching martial arts, playing piano, CAD modeling services and more. And given that about 99% of his travels are done in his car, he has had much time to think and ponder resulting in his writing two books. One is a book of poetry called “Just A Thought” and the other is a book on space-time called “Everything is Everywhere”
Some other interesting Skatecase facts include:
- The current Skatecase model is a 40 inches board and has a storage space that is approximately 35 inches long, 9.25 inches wide at its maximum and ¾ inches deep.
- They currently offer only offer the 40” Aero, but are releasing one that is 32” inches long in the near future.
- The Skatecase skateboard and other products are not currently in stores, but are for sale at www.LooshesLabs.com.
- Alexei hand paints every Skatecase. They are all custom and one of a kind.