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The X-Pen has a sleek shape and clever design.

The X-Pen marries the incredible Pilot Hi-Tec C refill with a bomb-proof carbon fiber and machined stainless steel body to create pen that not only writes incredibly well, but looks great and will stand up to whatever you want to throw at it. The X-Pen will be one of the featured products at the 8th Annual DaVinci Inventor Showcase on Oct 13 at the Denver Merchandise Mart.

After the jump, inventor Kyle Kinghorn tells about his experiences creating this carbon fiber based pen and his successes on Kickstarter…

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What was the defining moment that led you to create this product? What problem does it solve?

I love anything made out of carbon fiber (I’d better, as that is the focus of my company!), but the price point of anything made out of carbon is usually out of the reach of most mortals…  I also really like the Pilot Hi-Tec C pen, but noticed that it’s a great refill in a cheap housing.  So…  why not create a pen body that uses carbon fiber to house this great refill and price it so that people can actually afford it?  It doesn’t solve world hunger or anything like that, but it is a great looking pen that is incredibly strong and looks great.

After you came up with the idea, how did you size up the market and decide who your customers would be?

Once the idea was generated, I put it on Kickstarter to see if others liked it as well.  I figured that if it makes it on Kickstarter, then it probably has merit.  I was asking for $5000 in up front orders, and ended up with over 3x that amount in pre-orders.  Evidently, people like it!  It is now being sold through a website we created called www.desktopkandy.com.  We have sent the pen out to several blogs for review, and sales are starting to come through via the website.

How did you go about naming your product?

The “X-Pen” just sounds cool.  It’s “techy”, and it sounds like something that the X-Men would use…

How long did it take you to create you initial prototype, and what problems did you run into along the way?

As I already have my own carbon fiber shop, we just needed to design it on the computer, have a machine shop cut out some sample parts, then take some pictures.  The whole process only took about 4 weeks.  As for problems, we found out that even though all of the stainless steel pieces are done to exacting standards, the inside of the carbon fiber tubes has some variability in them, and we needed to address it.  It made for some interesting fit issues when we started designing and building a cap for the pen.  We were able to resolve these issues, though, by using o-rings.

xpen $50 Pledge

A $50 pledge on Kickstarter could have gotten you an X-pen.

Funding a new idea is always tricky. How did you go about lining up the money you needed?

We simply put it up on Kickstarter and used the money to fund the first wave of product.  For the next wave of product, we tapped in to a little bit of a line of credit I have on the company to get the raw materials for the next 300 pens we are manufacturing.

Is this a product you are able to produce and sell yourself?

We produce and sell it ourselves

What all channels are you using to market your product?

The internet via our website and new product blogs.

How many people do you currently have involved in your business? 5

How do you define success? What would hitting a “home run” look like in your mind?

Financially, I would define success as being able to pay off my business loans early, of building own building (instead of renting) by year 3.  But I see “success” as much more than that.  I want to create products that make people’s lives better.  The X-Pen is a cool little product that is a great conversation starter, but we are capable of much more.  A “home run”, to me, involves creating the best prosthetic and orthotic equipment available.  I’m looking forward to the day when I see someone walking down the street on a product that we designed and built and I tell him/her that we built it, and they give me a hug and say “this has changed my life!”.  Those are the kind of home runs I want…

Where do people go to find out more about your product?

For the X-Pen, look at www.desktopkandy.com.

I can also be emailed at any time at:  [email protected].

For more info on the DaVinci Inventor Showcase, go HERE

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