AWSI: Mark the Inventor King is Amazing…

Any article with the word “Inventor” in its title is sure to catch the eye of the LP Gang at Jedemi. The story from the New York Times Idea feature was about Mark King — developer of a granola texture analyzer for General Mills.

Mark "The Inventor" King.

Mark “The Inventor” King.

Seems that Mark qualifies as a NBI – Natural Born Inventor. Bored with school, he decided to challenge himself by going to a coffee shop, ordering a latte, and then typing “inventor-friendly company” into Google.

“I would make up an invention on the spot regarding their product line,” he said. “Then I would send it off to the company and pitch it.”

He experienced a lot of “radio silence” until he found G-WIN — the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network page, in 2011.


The challenge:  He saw on that website that they had a need for “a quantitative method of analyzing the texture of a chewy granola bar to assess differences in bar texture.”

Twenty-three-year old King described his approach to the General Mills challenge:

“I took a ton of different ideas and ran them through my mind, and then I just came onto this one that I saw was kind of interesting,” he said. He wrote down a description and sent it in.

“Then I got an email, and they said the idea was awesome,” he recalled. “They said, ‘O.K., call this number at this time, and use this code, and then you’ll be calling into a teleconference.’ ” Imagine. “It was like a James Bond scenario.”

They gave him money to build a prototype and when he was done, he was flown to the General Mills granola plant in Minneapolis In its “texture analysis lab,” he demonstrated how his machine worked.

The company was thrilled and is now pursuing a patent on King’s breakthrough (which is now a trade secret).

The site has received thousands of ideas from inventors since it went up in 2009

Why we like the Inventor King…

The story talks about how King persevered in spite of the lack of response from the companies he approached. It said King was “a textbook case of what innovation lecturers like to call stick-to-it-tive-ness. This trait is now analyzed and dissected in business schools, and, if the empiricism is to be trusted, what appears to undergird this necessary characteristic is an uncanny inability to become frustrated.”

Tommie gives him “two thumbs up.”

We like the thinking process he described: “one that caused him nothing but trouble in school but also partly explained how a vision of a granola-texture testing machine might spring forth spontaneously in his brain.”

“I never really got good grades in school because I have always been a daydreamer and I can’t read all that well,” he confessed. Instead, he built things — like an electric car to drive himself to high school so he could get one of the prime parking spaces for green vehicles.

In creating and observing these three-dimensional objects, Mr. King said he realized that he had a different kind of memory.

“Any mechanical thing that I have ever seen, I remember,” he said. “And I can take an idea and add something that I had seen before, like five years ago. I can add something to it, subtract something, flatten it out, expand a part and then add something else on, and I can do it in a second.”

That’s pretty cool.

His life after the granola texture machine has been pretty cool too. He used Kickstarter to finance a digital-theft-proof wallet he invented and he started a small business called Trayvax to make them.  Setting out to raise $5K, he ended up with over $44K.

RFID resistant wallet made of aircraft aluminum.

RFID resistant wallet made of aircraft aluminum.

“My Kickstarter money has pretty much run out, because of how many mistakes I’ve made,” Mr. King acknowledged, “but I’ve had to kind of pick myself back up and learn from them, and keep on pushing forward.”

We say the Inventor King can come hang with us at Jedemi any day.  And we really want this story to spread. The fact that he found something to do worthy of his talents is awesome. The fact that he did it outside of institutional channels is awesome too. Shows the importance of being proactive too.

Notable: Mark did an amazing TED talk in 2013


  • Fear is an opportunity to have less of it.
  • Failure gives depth to successes
  • Mentors can have an incredible impact.
  • Advice: Take on a project. Live life passionately. Define an enormous goal and work every day to relentlessly achieve it.

We heart “The Inventor” King!


Check out his Trayvax here.

Trayvax is an RFID resistant wallet made of aircraft aluminum. It is light, versatile, multifunctional, and made to last a lifetime.

TRAYVAX is in its 3rd year of being refined to the product that it is now. I am 24 prototypes deep, and it’s finally a product that can be manufactured inexpensively while maintaining excellent quality.

Here’s the Kickstarter description: Some call it a Tactical or industrial wallet, some call it an outdoorsmans wallet, but I just call it a “wallet for life” because it’s construction is made to well outlast the common wallet. The front plate is an anodized 6061 Aluminum, and the back is powder coated steel. It is incredibly light and slim, but rigid and ready for any abuse that you could put it through.
I have done my best to also include features like a carabeaner clip, bottle opener, cash and reciepts slot, and finger grooves for turning the wallet into a handle for carrying groceries. The entire wallet is also RFID resistant.

About Trayvax

I was snorkeling off the coast of Hawaii a few summers ago. The water was light blue, 12 feet deep, and as warm as a bath. The white sand and coral made it one of the most serene moments of my life. At that same moment, a plastic bag floated up to the side of my face.
It caught me by surprise to say the least. I thought it was a curious sea creature! But right then and there in the ocean, I was hit with a challenge. To design a way to reduce the use of plastic bags. When I used to camp in the wilderness with my father, I was taught to leave the trail cleaner than I found it so that others can enjoy the beauty it provides. I believe the same goes for life. And so the journey began….to design and produce a product that people love while making it easier to tote around a bag so that getting another plastic bag is out of the question.

This wallet was designed with you in mind. Its multifunction design provides a plethora of capabilities while the optional bag holder gives the user the ability to tote a plastic or vinyl bag out of sight, out of mind, but there when you need it.

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