Hinged Bottle co-inventor Sebastian Velmont provides an update and report of his first—and highly successful—packaging event ever.
Just 20 minutes into my first packaging tradeshow event ever at WestPack on February 5, 2019, I was blown away by the Evolution of a Package display, a poster of Heinz ketchup packaging over the years that posed the question: what’s next? I hope that my packaging invention might be that next step.
By way of explanation, I’m Sebastian Velmont and, along with my brother Rashon, patented a new packaging concept, the Hinged Bottle.
More about that shortly, first you should know that according to research done by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation “despite comprising 13% of the native-born population, African Americans represent just half a percent of U.S.-born innovators.”
Innovators are defined as those who own intellectual property, such as patents for their innovative concepts and ideas.
Our historical minority innovators include George Washington Carver, who popularized peanut butter and invented hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes including for plastics; and Sarah E. Goode, the first African-American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, for her invention of a folding cabinet bed.
However, within this half a percent of innovations, scant few relate to packaging, the environment, or sustainability, yet African American communities usually are impacted more by the environment than any other community in the U.S, according to a report conducted by Green 2.0.
My brother and I are that rare breed of African American Innovators who have received a Utility Patent for an innovation—one we wrote and executed and that was approved without legal assistance. Our invention of a Hinged Bottle that solves a universal problem for consumers when they try to get the "last drop" of lotion or ketchup at the bottom of a bottle.
“Dispensing Container with Interior Access” Patent Number US10,179,675B2 was issued January 15, 2019, along with International Rights to File within 150+ Countries. The feature on this innovation appeared in Packaging Digest in January (see Inventive hinged bottle reduces product waste).
Our next plan of attack was finding a way to develop the best prototype to present to consumer product manufacturers for licensing consideration. The one and only place in the packaging industry we considered attending to start our first-hand search for the best resources was WestPack’s Expo in Anaheim, CA, which was held practically in our neighborhood, in February.
At the show I met some wonderful connections, learned a lot about where the general industry is and where it is headed. Overall, I received a full educational experience of the Packaging Industry and it was a great, fascinating, eye opening experience. My brother agreed 100%.
“WestPack was more than a resource for finding a prototype developer for our innovation, it was an insight into where the packaging industry was headed within every sector of the business,” says Rashon Velmont. “It was a Masterclass for us within the packaging and sustainability space where we received great insight on what industry leaders felt about our innovation and what markets it will best serve. We also met Lisa McTigue Pierce Executive Editor of Packaging Digest, who paid us a great compliment by saying that our innovation was brilliant.
“Attending WestPack reassured us of the value of our innovation,” Rashon continues. “Several leading engineers there saw great value in our innovation not only within standard consumer packaging, but also how our concept would serve the new premium consumer packaging industry on the rise. Brands like Pantene, Unilever, The Body Shop and other brands are embracing this new reusable packaging program launched by TerraCycle, Loop.
I watched Lisa's recent video interview with TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky (see Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging, published January 2019), and I believe I found where our innovation will serve a valuable purpose: for premium, refillable packaging that the Loop program encourages manufacturers to design for the Loop platform. Szaky mentioned that the three requirements for Loop packaging is reusable, durable and cleanable.
The packaging will consist of innovative types such as stainless-steel shampoo bottles that can be used more than 100 times. The functionality of our patent innovation would allow this bottle to be opened in a way that consumers can access every “last drop” hassle free.
The combination of Packaging Digest and WestPack have proven monumental in this development. Information we found at Packaging Digest not only shaped how we were able to develop our innovation before we received the patent, WestPack has become a great resource on how we can license our innovation. Soon we can present it to consumers who seek such a solution to an everyday problem—the timing is perfect for this.
Where do we One Percenters of Sustainability stand now?
We have also partnered with Cal Poly Pomona’s Engineering Department in a way that aligns with our mission to close the gap in innovation for women and minorities by encouraging more entrepreneurship in innovation among those groups. This effort was organized by Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who also co-founded the Femineers (Female Engineers), which the White House recognized for its empowerment of young women to become engineers.
We also are honored to work with Stephen Lin, a Cal Poly Pomona engineering student, who will be recreating our Hinged Bottle innovation digitally using a 3D CAD design to properly display and identify the utility patent’s proprietary features.
[Ed. Note: both researchers appear along with the Velmont brothers in the above graphic in order of mention.]
We’re also seeking consumer product manufacturers that see the value in licensing our "frustration free" innovation to reduce product waste.
Lastly for now, we’re excited to see what’s next for us as One Percenters of Sustainability.
If you'd like more information, please contact me, Sebastian Velmont, at 323-272-8662 or firstname.lastname@example.org