At a business school with such a commitment to entrepreneurship, students like David Moeller (OC) inspire professors. “It’s great to see students apply the entrepreneurship toolkit that we provide in class in real time, in their ventures,” said Professor Mukti Khaire. “It’s experiential learning at its best.”
HBS is often used as a laboratory for new ideas and a springboard for new companies, but Moeller is one of the few students who can claim to have taken a consumer product from concept to market within his two years. Professors estimate that likely more than 50% of HBS students start their own company within 10 years of graduation.
The Claw, as it was called on the television show “American Inventor,” is officially coming to market nationwide in 2008, thanks to a recently announced partnership between Moeller’s company, Claw Hanging Systems L.L.C., and Gladiatorr GarageWorks, an industry leader in garage organization. The Claw, which will be re-configured and re-launched under as the Gladiator umbrella of products, is an innovative bike securing mechanism that allows bike-owners to store and retrieve their bikes more easily than with an ordinary hook. The device latches on to the front or back tire with just a vertical motion and eliminates the struggle to wrestle a bike on or off a hook.
Last summer, Moeller and project partner Craig Forest, an MIT Ph.D, were selected from about 2,000 applicants to be regional finalists on ABC’s reality-show American Inventor, produced by American Idol’s Simon Cowell. Although Moeller and Forest were eliminated before the audience-call-in vote, the capital investment propelled the idea into a working prototype. In fact, the device is the first product from the hit reality show that will be officially brought to market by a major corporation.
Shortly after the show ended and ABC released its legal rights to the invention, Moeller and Forest traveled to Las Vegas for Interbike, the largest bike retail trade show in the world. There, the pair met with several potential licensees, and ended up selecting Gladiator GarageWorks as the manufacturer that will now produce, market and distribute the device. Gladiator is a subsidiary of Whirlpool Corporation, one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of major home appliances, with annual sales of over $11 billion and nearly 50 manufacturing and technology research centers.
“Garages in America continue to grow in size, making a product like this an ideal addition to our garage organization lineup, “noted Lou Ann Schafer, Senior Marketing Manager, Gladiatorr GarageWorks. “Like many of our products, the bike mounting device gets items up off the floor and into a smart, innovative storage solution.”
Surely, HBS is full of financial success stories, but part of what makes Moeller’s story one for the record books is how he started and sold a company while simultaneously completing a full time MBA program. “I benefited greatly from unselfish HBS classmates at each junction,” said Moeller. “A lot of the product’s momentum is due to the selfless help of Debbie Rosenbaum (OC) and Andy Ku (OC) for their help with PR and marketing.”