Catching the Spark

I’ve had a lot of ideas in my almost 29 years. Some were pretty good; others, pretty horrible. (Coffee for Cats is just something the world doesn’t need). But some ideas were probably better than I realized.

When I was ten years old I had the inspiration for a new kind of snow boot. The idea was borne out of necessity, as our town was blessed with about a week of snow days in a row, and I was spending a lot of time changing from snow boots to tennis shoes. My idea was for an insulated,  waterproof shell that would fit over your shoes and cinch up with several buckles and zippers. It had a hard sole and treads for traction. In between sledding runs outside, I warmed my hands up and drew a few sketches of my idea.

Ultimately the sketches were buried under homework papers, the snow melted, and the idea faded back into the filing cabinet of my imagination.

Fast forward seven years to my after school job at the Orvis store. Unpacking some boxes of merchandise one afternoon I looked incredulously at a pair of Neos Overshoes. The fact that I was holding the EXACT product I had imagined years earlier, down to the placement of the straps and zippers, wasn’t what floored me. It was that they were the exact shade of hunter green I had imagined, which I had also written as a side note on my sketch.

Everyone has had that, “why didn’t I think of that!?” or even, “they stole my idea!” moment.

Since diving headlong into this ‘Chups endeavor, I’ve had a couple of simple, but very important realizations:

1. Ideas are not necessarily unique. The same stimuli that led me to conceive of the boot idea obviously affected another person in the same way. (Pretty much like Newton and Leibniz separately inventing the calculus…)

2. Ideas will not wait for you to act. I believe a good idea will travel from person to person until it is conceived and reaches its full potential.

Catching the spark of an idea and protecting it until it can burn brightly on its own is a special feat. It is a rare ten year old who can realize the potential of a good idea, much less acquire the resources to build a prototype and then shop the idea to companies. (I struggled with math homework enough as it was.) What I mean is that one cannot act on every good idea he has. It takes perseverance to let a good idea find its home somewhere else while waiting for the right one to come along

But 18 years later, I’ve stumbled onto an idea that just can’t be left on the table. I am not a chef, but I have a passion for flavors and making food that is delicious and fun to eat. As the cliche goes, making ‘Chups is really a labor of love.

Realizing the potential of this idea is both amazing and daunting. Of course, the goal for ‘Chups is to be a successful product that improves the lives of those who use it (to whatever degree ketchup can do that). And the level of success we are talking about? Let’s just say we strive to be realistic, but at this point, there is no limit.



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