Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: John Vaskis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

This week we’re chattin’ with John Vaskis, Senior Director of Hardware at Indiegogo. John helps hardware-based businesses execute successful crowdfunding campaigns whether that be through PR outreach, finding a manufacturing partner, gauging consumer interest, or any other activity that helps startups get off the ground.

John Vaskis of Indiegogo

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing all of the awesome products that always come through the contest every year. The innovation that happens with the Cool Idea! Program always blows my minds—it feels like you’re looking into the future.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I originally went to college for computer science to create video games; needless to say CS and me were similar to oil and vinegar. I did get into the video game world, though, on the business side as my first real job.

What’s the best piece of entrepreneurial or business advice you’ve received and how did it help you?
When I started my first job I was told to simply “get out there” because I knew no one, had no network, and I was told that would be the quickest way to learn. That proved to be very useful. This industry is based upon connections, so I suggest to everyone to make as many of them as possible. Continue reading

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Taylor Stein

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Taylor Stein of Autodesk

Next up in our Q&A series is Taylor Stein. He’s a technology evangelist at Autodesk based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work at Autodesk focuses on inspiring future engineers to solve real-world problems with generative design software and additive manufacturing.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
I’m most excited for the range of submissions in 2017! Looking at past award winners, I’m equally as impressed by the smart, connected devices, as I am by the simplest of products that need some injection molding to come to life.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find myself coding more and more at work each and every day. From writing Python scripts that gather social media metrics to algorithmically defining pieces of geometry, coding is continuing to be an incredibly important skill. Continue reading

Cool Ideas for the Gift Giving Season

THE SHORT LIST

Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season? These past Cool Idea! Award recipients might fit the bill.

1. Need a gift for the techie? Garageio is garage door opener built for the 21st century. It connects to your smartphone and allows you to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world. And, you don’t need to replace your existing opener, so installation is simple. Not only is it a convenient gadget but it also provides a sense of relief by sending real-time alerts if your garage door is left open. Garageio is even compatible with Amazon’s home automation platform, Echo. Learn more about Garageio.

2. To the untrained eye, Everpurse might look like your typical handbag, but take a closer look and you’ll find an integrated smartphone charging system. You simply place your phone into the purse’s charging dock and it will automatically start recharging—no wires required. When you’re at home, you can charge the bag’s battery by placing it on top of the inductive charging mat. Learn more about Everpurse.

3. SOLOSHOT is like having your own personal cameraman. It’s a virtual tracking system that works with most cameras and is able to track an object as far as 2,000 feet away. The video subject simply wears or mounts a tag on themselves and the camera’s base station automatically follows the user. It’s perfect for the outdoor enthusiast looking for quality video footage of themselves while they rock climb, surf, or snowboard. Learn more about SOLOSHOT.

Visit the Cool Idea! Award website to find more award recipients–and potential gift ideas.

Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick Joins Judges Panel for Cool Idea! Award

Indiegogo’s Andrew Erlick.

We’re excited to announce that Indiegogo‘s Director of Hardware, Design & Technology, Andrew Erlick, has been added to the judges panel of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award program. Erlick’s experience at Indiegogo (the largest global crowdfunding platform) and Quirky (a social product development company) should prove valuable as he helps identify and select innovative product ideas to receive the award.

The Cool Idea! Award program, now in its fifth year, was established to help product designers and engineers bring useful concepts to market. Since 2011, nearly $1 million in custom prototyping and low-volume production services have been provided to entrepreneurs developing new products in the United States and Europe.

The program runs year-round and today marks the start of the July/August submission period. Apply now at protolabs.com/cool-idea.

Read our full press release announcement here.