When we say ‘made in the stateline’ there are physical things, that are actually produced in factories, and then there are the intangibles – ideas – that are just getting off the ground.
Santosh Arcot may not be a trained engineer, but that hasn’t stopped him from inventing. He’s actually a scientist, but four or five years ago, his problem-solving brain started to take over.
“I was finding myself thinking, ‘Gee, what’s missing? What do I need?’ A lot of times, things just start with, like…’do I need something that I cannot find a good solution [for]?'” he said.
That’s led Santosh to turn some of those solutions into products.
His latest, the Hopper-Stand, holds bags, from a few gallon Hefty bags to contractor bags to paper lawn bags.
“It’s got this very novel pivot mechanism, which allows you to adjust the frame size and lock it into whatever position you want,” he said.
The device is a modification of his earlier design, the Hopper Topper.
Santosh will be the first to tell you he didn’t do this all on his own: Rockford’s NIU EIGERlab helped get the product off the ground.
“I have this vision of a product. My previous training allows me to, at least, take that vision and convert it to some basic, hand-drawn drawings, and then to finally see a product being sold at retail,” he said.
Santosh’s ideas start with rough drawings. That’s where EIGERlab’s experts step in.
“Ok, we’ve got this great idea. We’ve got a final design. Let’s 3D print it. Let’s see what it looks like. So, I actually get to touch, feel, and see what the thing is gonna look like before we decide [to] go for the tooling and invest all this money in production and everything,” he said.
His next step will be to try to see his idea at Rockford’s Fast Pitch competition, coming up in October.
“To me, this is my Shark Tank. So, I’m really excited to come and present this product, and hopefully win it. So there’s all the benefits that come with that,” he said.
He says he’ll use the money, if he wins, to market the Hopper Stand.
Win or lose, Santosh says he still can’t believe how far his ideas have gone in just a few years.
“If you’d have asked me, like, 10 years ago, I could have never imagined that my product would be in Walmart stores, let alone anywhere. Or, that I would even be creating products to sell to consumers,” he said. “I could have never even dreamt of that. And here it is.”
Santosh’s products are not only available online through Walmart, but also Amazon, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and even Home Depot.
He hopes to have his own website sales portal soon.