by Melody Keilig
What’s the key to inventing? Is it a sole spark of inspiration, strictly hard work, or much more?
To answer this question, we spoke with BlueKube President Brandon Kennington to get his opinions on the latest innovations created by companies today and what’s behind his own inspiration. Brandon also spoke about his early beginnings in inventing, what inspires him to keep pushing after failure, and the most solid advice he’s ever received.
Brandon says that taking risks is the key to success as an inventor, stating that if you play it too safe and never try anything new, your inventions will never go far in the realm of innovation, creativity, and artistry.
When Brandon started inventing around 12 years old, one of his first projects was thinking up a way to make his sneakers take him from walking to rollerblading in seconds. So he took apart his rollerblades to create a pair of shoes with hidden wheels underneath that could pop out when needed.
Throughout his many invention ideas as a teenager, it wasn’t until Brandon was about 15 years old that he was looking through the various fields of engineering. His family had told him that he should look into civil engineering from his love of inventing, but Brandon says he wasn’t too interested in studying the construction of bridges and other large structures. Instead, he was more invested in tinkering with mechanisms and creating something unique that people could use every day.
During his search for colleges that offered mechanical engineering, Brandon applied to several colleges in California, but he ended up getting rejected by those programs. Finally, however, Brandon got accepted into Purdue University in Indiana, ranked number four in the United States for mechanical engineering.
“It was a very high prestige to be accepted by such a great mechanical engineering school,” Brandon says.
Going from sunny California to the cornfields of Indiana, Brandon learned how to better his craft and graduated from the university.
From where Brandon is now in his life, he says that if he could tell his 15-year-old self anything, it would be to remain positive, even in the face of many challenges.
“I would want to tell myself to stick with it, there’s been moments in my life that have, as everybody has, where they kind of second-guess themselves a little bit and question whether or not they’re on the right path because you go through challenges that don’t seem to have light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.
“What I found was that those challenging times are the moments you grow the most, and sometimes, the challenges are so big, and they’re hard that it really does kick you off your path where you know you should be going, but you end up kind of insecure about it and saying, ‘Well, maybe it’s not something that I can do,’ or ‘why don’t I do something safe?’”
Brandon says that many people, including himself, have taken the safe path at some point in their lives out of fear of the unknown or failure. Sometimes, playing it safe seems like the best option for us when we lack confidence, but there are ways to come out on the other side.
“Thankfully, I’ve found myself coming back to what I really do love which is inventing and building new products. And so, if I were to go back and tell my fifteen-year-old self some advice, it would be that you can expect challenging times in your life, but those challenging times are necessary for you to be successful in other areas of life,” Brandon says, adding that facing challenges is what builds resolve, character, and is a necessary phase of life to go through.
Keeping your head up and sticking to what your gut tells you is also an important lesson he’s learned along the way. He offers another piece of advice: be confident, even when you have doubters in your corner telling you otherwise.
“In our business here, you know, we’re doing things that nobody else can do or does because we’re coming up with brand new ideas,” Brandon says. “We’re coming up with something that nobody’s thought of before, so it’s very easy for others to judge, ‘Oh, that’s not going to go well,’ or ‘are you kidding? How would you, why would you, who do you think you are?’, ‘What makes you think you can build a product and make it successful?’”
Brandon says the doubters were all around him when he came up with a Porch Potty prototype, but he kept his goal in mind and kept pushing forward. He learned that, at some point, you have to shut out the dissenting voices and create the product of your dreams.
“Eventually, you just have to shut out the haters, right? Because, otherwise, if you took the advice of every hater that comes across in your life, you wouldn’t get anywhere,” Brandon says. “You would just stop at every moment where people gave you doubt. It takes real determination and self-discipline to say, ‘Well, I know you think that, but I’m going to do it anyway.’”
By adopting this attitude, Brandon has become comfortable with failure, which allows him to take more risks. However, Brandon clarifies by saying that he doesn’t make risky moves just for the sake of it, but he’s more willing to take calculated risks now.
“I’m still measuring risk, but I know that even if it does all go wrong, I’m still there to pick myself back up and try another one,” Brandon says.
One of Brandon’s favorite aspects of inventing is taking an everyday product and making it better. His top innovation company shoutouts include Dyson, Simple Human, and OXO.
Dyson, the company known for its vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans, has been making moves in the beauty industry with its twist on the traditional hair curler.
“Now they have hair driers, and they have the curler that’s supposed to be the best curler in the world. They have those cool-looking fans that are bladeless fans,” he says. “So they’ve done a great job with inventing new technology and putting it to work across a larger number of amazing products. They’ve got great-looking products, great brand recognition, so a company like that I look up to.”
Brandon also likes several household brands like Simple Human. He admires their creative takes on simple, everyday products you can find around the house.
“Simple Human makes some great trash cans, or they have kitchen utensils, or soap dispensers, those kinds of things that are just kind of household items. But they always take something as old as a soap dispenser or a trash can, and they put their touches on it. Now it’s like a whole other level of a trash can. It automatically opens when you wave your hand over it. It’s beautiful, it’s stainless steel, it’s sitting in your kitchen as just a trash can, but now it’s more than that. It’s an amazing art piece that is aesthetically appealing and so on,” Brandon says.
Another favorite brand of Brandon’s is OXO, which also takes various spins on common household items. He says that he loves how they take a concept that’s been around for decades and completely rethink the design to create something that does the same thing but improves the user experience. One example is the potato peeler, a simple product that everyone knows of and uses, but OXO takes it up a notch.
“They’ve been the same design since our grandparents have used those tools, right? So it’s been around for generations. Then OXO comes along and says, ‘Why does it have to be that same design? And why can’t we make it a soft rubber grip that’s double-sided, so you don’t have to worry about which side is which? Or, it could have a little cover to protect your hand. All of a sudden, they can take ordinary household items like a potato peeler and make it just the most amazing potato peeler you’ve ever used in your life, and you would never want to try any other because this thing is just so amazing,” he says.
Brandon adds that there’s plenty of room for new inventions, but there are also so many possibilities in recreating old products to make them brand new. Although dozens of these products can be found anywhere, these innovative brands want to rethink these old designs to create something that seamlessly blends into modernity.
“Take, for example, the dog bowl,” Brandon says. “The dog bowl has been around for hundreds of years if you consider it, and we said, ‘Why can’t we make a better dog bowl?’ We’re not necessarily inventing a new technology, so to speak. We’re just saying, why can’t we make something that’s amazing? A dog bowl that can be the best dog bowl you’ll ever see, that kind of thing.”
Inventors can expect to see about 40-50% of their products never reach full maturity in the product business. As Brandon mentioned, there’s room for new innovations, but there’s also a lot of failure in the process.
“In order to be successful, you have to fail,” he adds. “That’s also true with products because if we wanted to be safe and make sure that every product we launched was successful, we really wouldn’t be that inventive or creative at all. You have to push the boundaries a little bit. This is why some car companies always do concept cars because they’re always just trying to stretch themselves a little bit. You can come back down from that, but you want to stretch your ideas a bit.”
Because you want to utilize your creativity, Brandon says expecting a lot of failures will help in reflecting on what worked versus what didn’t work. No company has had a perfect record: even the most successful brands have gone through a period of struggling before finally having a massive breakthrough.
For Brandon, his vision is to expand BlueKube onto other platforms to form a community that loves innovation as much as he does. So, the latest expansion is the new BlueKube YouTube channel.
“We are starting new YouTube channel,” Brandon says. “The goal is to demonstrate what BlueKube is, and I’m anticipating that it’ll be a great wave to ride as the way we look at ourselves and how others look at BlueKube.”
Brandon’s mission for BlueKube is to show that it’s a company with a knack for creating products that come to life. He says that it doesn’t matter if their next idea is a “back of the napkin idea sketch” because the BlueKube team can effortlessly get the product off the ground.
The BlueKube team strives to get the product out faster than anyone thought possible while committing to delivering something of high quality. From designing the product and having the engineering team work their magic to getting it manufactured and delivered to customers worldwide.
“We have such a huge footprint we leave behind on people’s hearts, and it’s important that we take that seriously. There’s an obligation to us all that we left behind an impact of positivity and goodness,” Brandon says.
Through your own creative process, remember that inspiration has more to do with reflecting on the failures and pushing forward until you reach success. For BlueKube, the company strives to do its best at everything they do and listen to its customers for suggestions to improve its products and services.
So, if you’re feeling like your dream invention could never happen, take Brandon’s words to heart and keep trying! You never know how big your idea could become.