By JEROD CLAPP
JEFFERSONVILLE — Part practicality, part fashion statement, Ben Shahroudi’s idea just might be a hit in schools scaling up their technology use.
In just a few weeks, the senior at Our Lady of Providence Junior/Senior High School invented a new way for students at the school to carry their iPads around and also give them a little individuality with his Pad Pouch.
All students at the school use them for their classes, and as other schools make the move to get technology in the hands of every student, he said he thinks it could prove useful.
“Kids aren’t just going toward technology, there’s something new almost every month,” Shahroudi said. “I just think something new and cool like this could blow kids’ minds.”
Aside from giving students something waterproof and padded to protect their parents’ investment, he said it can also display images like superhero logos or video game characters, giving students a chance to express themselves while still wearing their uniforms.
But from concept to prototype, he said it’s been a long, interesting process.
THE DINNER PITCH
David Shahroudi, Ben’s father, said at the end of Ben’s sophomore year, he brought up the idea of the Pad Pouch during the family dinner.
Ben said his dad’s response was warm, but not too serious.
“He kind of responded like he would if one of the other kids brought that idea to him,” Ben said. “He said it was a cool idea and kind of put it off to the side.”
But he didn’t let it go. He kept approaching David with ideas and doing a little of his own market research, asking friends what he thought of the idea.
After several months of convincing, David bit and became an investor.
“It was his persistence to talk about it repeatedly and I see the benefit of going through the process just to see it,” David said. “While I still wasn’t sold on whether it would sell, I was sold on the idea.”
But he said aside from getting his son’s idea manufactured, he said going from start to finish with a product would help him when he studies business in college.
“He’s going to get a jump start on learning that at 17 instead of when he’s older,” David said. “It just gives him a leg up on the business side. There is no substitution for real-world experience.”Which, David said, there’s been a lot of so far. They’ve met with patent attorneys to get the concept protected and gone through five prototypes of the invention, fine-tuning small details as they go along.
After setting up a Kickstarter.com page — a website that helps small companies get funding by letting the public donate — and a Facebook page, David said it’s become a family affair getting the whole thing going.
“It’s been his baby in getting the word out, wearing it around and starting some social media buzz,” David said. “His older sister manages the Facebook page, so it’s kind of been a family project.”
Ben said the first shipment of the Pad Pouch — the initial order was for about 50 — should arrive at his house sometime around the beginning of December from an outside company in the U.S. From there, he’ll fulfill his pre-orders and sell as many as he can after that. The Pad Pouch costs $50 on the Kickstarter website with any donation, and will retail for $54.95 on Amazon.
Shahroudi said he’s not sure how successful he’ll be, but he said he hopes he can make enough to break even on his dad’s investment and also pave his way for a college degree.
“I think if I got a good amount of money, that’s the first thing it would go for, my tuition,” Ben said. “I’m going next year.”