It’s not like Mike Carpanzano ’03 doesn’t have enough to do. He’s the father of a three-year-old son; owns a small residential construction business, Sherman Building Designs, in Sherman, Connecticut; and is finishing up an MBA at Western Connecticut State. But as Carpanzano and I spoke on the phone recently as he drove to a job site, our focus wasn’t on any of the above, but on an invention that he’s hoping to develop into a marketable product.
It’s called “nuplug” and is, essentially, an extension plug equipped with a clamp to attach it to furniture, making it more convenient to plug in a smart device and keep on working. Carpanzano, who came up with the idea while talking with friends, isn’t under any illusion that nuplug rivals the light bulb as an inventor’s breakthrough, but cites the reality that consumers like convenience and are often willing to pay for it. He mentions the Snuggie, familiar from TV ads, and asks what’s the real difference between a Snuggie and a blanket?
He does have a point, and watching his video for a recently launched Kickstarter campaign, one does come to see how it would create a neater, safer situation with all the smart devices, hungry for power, that we all use for hours each day. In prototype form, Carpanzano’s invention has garnered several awards for innovation. Though he studied entrepreneurship at UVM, Carpanzano says, “I’ve never put something into the market and profited from it. It’s a steep, uphill and slippery slope, but this has gotten a little traction and momentum and I’ve been able to take it further.”
Just a few days into the Kickstarter effort, Carpanzano had built nearly five hundred backers and more than $16,000 toward his goal of $75,000 that will enable him to put the product into production. Asked to dream down the road and consider whether he’d prefer to be running a nuplug company someday or sell the idea and move on to his next notion, Carpanzano says his business model is built around an in-house operation producing nuplug. And he’d prefer to keep it that way. “A lot of my blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this,” he says.