Add “business incubator” to the many roles the Sacramento Public Library plays in the community. A pair of young snowboarding enthusiasts have used the Design Spot at the Arcade Library to design a product prototype—then raised more than $56,000 on Kickstarter to bring it to market.
“Public libraries exist to provide access to tools and information that help people succeed,” said Lori Easterwood, programming and partnerships coordinator with Sacramento Public Library.
Placerville cousins Nate Zavaleta, 24, and Alex Smith, 18, were trying to create a small, versatile tool they could bring on snowboarding expeditions. Using the Design Spot, they were able to design and print a prototype of a tool they call the Hex Flex. Its 15 different tools—including multiple screwdrivers and wrenches, plus a bottle opener, box cutter and more—in a single piece of solid steel. Shaped, appropriately, like a snowflake, it’s only 2 inches wide and weighs 2.3 ounces.
“Bindings are always coming loose in between runs and I was not happy with the current options,” Zavaleta said. “I also wanted to incorporate a bottle opener. The snowflake design lent itself well.”
They began their Kickstarter campaign on October 15 with a goal of raising $10,000 manufacture and sell the Hex Flex, but they quickly shot far past that goal. They were so successful that News 10 in Sacramento noticed and did a long segment on them on Nov. 5!
Kickstarter is a website that allows tiny startups to raise money and pre-sell products. Donors who give above a certain level will receive a Hex Flex in the mail by the end of the year.
The Design Spot opened in May as a way to put powerful design tools—AutoCAD design software and a pair of 3D printers—in the hands of library patrons. The Design Spot is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was made possible by grants from the California State Library and U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Back in July, staff at the Rancho Cordova Library enlisted the Design Spot to help them fix a broken cash register.