Inventor of the Week Archive
for a different Invention or Inventor
When Kelly Reinhart was six-years old, she had an idea that would
launch her into a kind of life that few children get to experience: that of
a successful entrepreneur, inventor, and V.I.P.
It all started when Kelly's parents asked each of their seven children to
draw a picture that represented an idea for a new product, just for fun. Kelly,
after having seen cowboys wearing holsters in Westerns she had seen on TV, drew
a picture of a person wearing a holsterlike thigh pack, which she thought
would be useful for carrying portable video games and such. The rest, as they
say, is history.
Today, at 9 years old, Kelly is a fourthgrader at
Atkinson Elementary in North Andover, Massachusetts and she serves as the
chairperson of TPak International, a company with nearly $1 million in orders
for the thigh packs Kelly designed. "I had no idea this was going to be such
a success," she said.
The thigh packs took off after Kelly's parents had a prototype made which
they later developed into a design that could be mass produced with the help
of a friend in China. Meanwhile, Kelly took the pack to school to do some marketing
research by getting thoughts and reactions from her friends. Several improvements
were made before the Reinharts patented the design, had 100 packs made, and
sold them at a flea market. Gradually they realized there was quite a lot of
interest in the thigh packs, especially after they were asked to supply orders
of 20,000 to 100,000 pieces after presenting them at trade shows in Atlantic
City and Las Vegas.
That's when the Reinharts looked for some help. The Massachusetts Manufacturers
Partnership Program sent them to Ron Marfione, who owns a promotional marketing
company in nearby North Reading, Massachusetts. Marfione became an equal partner
with Kelly and Bob Reinhart. The team isn't sure at this point whether they'll
continue to manufacture the thigh packs or sell the idea to another party in
Meanwhile, however, Kelly has been busy talking about her product and her
future plans with the likes of Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney and Pentagon
officials, including the Secretary of the Army. She even met President Bush
"I met with [The Pentagon] to see if the army can use my invention for military
purposes," said Kelly. "They liked my idea so much, they set up an appointment
with special operations at MacDill Air Force
Base in Tampa, Florida. I flew down there and met with many military professionals.
They are looking into giving me a research and development contract ."
Kelly is also attending college classes at Merrimack
College, which gave her a special grant to attend classes for free. In addition,
she has started a foundation for kids who wish to pursue their dreams, and she's
also authored a book, "This Little Pack Goes to the Market," which she hopes
will help kids to realize that "every idea is a good idea."
"The advice I can give to other kids is let their parents know or an adult
that they have an idea," Kelly said. "If the adult does not pursue anything
with it, then put the idea in a folder for a later day until [the child is]
old enough to bring up again or when they know who to approach."
About her future plans, Kelly said, "I want to be a senator so I can help
people and educate them on the process of business and help make it easier to
find money for making dreams come true."