Product Development

Pro Grom – Balance Board Project

Objective: To practice design entrepreneurship by inventing a product to bring to market.

Designers: Francesca Zanuso, Jared Gross, and Wes Mahoney
Instructor: Lindsey Baker

Process: Students team up to brainstorm a product that they will actually make and market. They were required to develop a budget, determine costs, build it, test it, name it and market it.

Project Concept: Develop and design a balancing board for kids to learn board sports. The name Progrom is derived from the word “Grom” . This is a skateboarder’s slang term for a young person who wishes to learn balancing skills and their desire to go pro. Wes brought his 18 month old son to the presentation to test the product for the audience.

Blenders Eyewear

Blake Jensen (“Ace of Shades”) former AI student and his business partner Chase Fischer started Blender’s Eyewear just over 4 years ago. And just recently they were guest stars on West Texas Investors Club a show about investors looking to invest in startups.

“They guest starred on West Texas Investors Club in just 4 years after they graduated.”

A year or two ago they visited my class on design entrepreneurship. They came to help other students see the options, challenges and advantages of starting your own business right out of college.

We made our share of mistakes — sometimes got a little too happy.

Note: the video was an afterthought so if you can excuse the shaky camera work on my part, I think you will find it worth watching.


I couldn’t resist getting into the picture, I think the shades make me look super cool don’t you?

Sweet Bricks

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 8.49.55 AM.pngThis story is an amazing example of why persistence is so important when launching and building a start-up. When Jen Perez (center below) was a student at the Art Institute of California – San Diego, she had a little family secret: a great recipe on how to make great toffee. Jen was in a design entrepreneur course that I taught; where students had to design a website for a business. So she took the opportunity to create a website for a product her family was about to launch.

Because both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer, this product’s success became a lifeline for her and her entire family.

Both of her parents suddenly became ill and the family which included 3 college age siblings, suddenly had severely decreased resources. Jen was determined to start a family business to support herself, her siblings and her parents. It started off as an immediate success with orders pouring in from corporate accounts. It was certain that the recipe was a hit and she continued to do research and development to broaden the line of products.

Jena Perez, owner of Sweet Bricks and friends

Why persistence is important when launching a start-up.

The second disaster struck when they were just about to open a store in downtown San Diego — the building caught fire. Luckily the online business continued to thrive and they are now receiving recognition from the culinary industry for their awesome product.

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