I first met Dave in the powered paragliding section of a hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He had a giant fan strapped to his back and a parachute lying next to him on the ground. He hit the throttle and, within seconds, was literally just a speck in the sky.
Some introductions are more memorable than others.
With 16 patented products to his name (at last count), the chances are high that if you shop online or at Walmart, you have scrolled or strolled by at least one of Dave’s inventions. That many people will not immediately recognize his name should not surprise, however. He decided years ago that he’d do his best to avoid the kind of limelight typically focused on the atypically successful. It was the late 90s and the IT company he’d co-founded with his brother only eight years earlier, SolarWinds, had just gone public. Dave, preferring the drawing board to board meetings, retired from the company and set about figuring out what to do next. He was 29 years old.
He’s been hard at work ever since, taking his ideas from concept to mass production and providing a great example of what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.
Most days, he’s putting elbow grease to new product plans in his Broken Arrow factory, aptly called “The Fun Factory.” There, amidst the clicking and whirring of power tools, he turns out prototypes and works on an array of other projects, like the first ever electrically powered Harley.
Recent projects also include the Global Expedition Vehicle made from the bones of an abandoned military vehicle that lay buried in the desert sand for years before Dave fished it out and went to work on it. There’s also The Go Boat: personal, portable watercraft. How about a cooler and air conditioner all in one? Dave calls these IcyBreezes and for any parent planning a summer full of sporting events in the sweltering heat, they’re a must. My daughter took one to her soccer camp this week and all the girls loved it. Check out The Icy Breeze here.
Behold, The GoBoat
The personal, portable, inflatable, watercraft.
For the Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers of the world who want to go more merrily down every stream they come across. Your inner child, and your children, will thank you.
Dave also spends a significant amount of time coaching other entrepreneurs, helping them form companies and get products of their own to market. Years after I first met him, our kids began attending the same school and we would periodically run into each other. There are some people who, though they may not be under dogs, you innately want to root for. They lead by example and remind you that creating things for the sake of having fun is a worthwhile and noble endeavor. Dave is one of these people. His enthusiasm and optimism are consistently refreshing and I always look forward to hearing about what he’s up to. His advice to young entrepreneurs who are wondering where to start is simple and straightforward: “Make a business plan. It’s the best education and best way to see if an idea is viable or not.” More importantly, Dave advises, “If you have a dream, you owe it to yourself to flesh it out and at least try to follow it.”
-Tom Sullivent, Founder & Attorney at Sullivent Law Firm
Photos courtesy of DaveYonce.com & TheGoBoat.com.