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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the Accidental Entrepreneur

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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the Accidental Entrepreneur

  Disabled Man at craft show.

It’s a well known fact that when a person has some sort of brain injury their thinking ability will fail them first.  When I began to recover from my stroke I always worried that another attack would happen to me.  To put my mind at ease I would periodically create tests or challenges to keep my mind busy. Funny thing - coming up with the tests was a great challenge all on its’ own.  After 26 years of regular mind testing and challenges one day I came up with a real doozy!   

I call it The Ultimate Brain Test of all times.

Here’s how my Brain Test works:

 I wrote down 20 memories of things I enjoyed doing before my stroke.

Then I had to narrow it down to the top two.

Those were:  #1 Cuddling with my girlfriend and #2 Eating desserts like Ice Cream!

After that part of my test was done, I asked myself, “What am I going to do?” go back to my dark space and be depressed & lonely? 

NO, because that’s just not fun!  I continued to add more steps to my little test, to make it more challenging.  Suddenly, this test was starting to become a complicated project.

Couples cuddling sketch.For some reason I started to sketch people cuddling and different types of desserts.  “Why?”  I have no idea but all of a sudden, an idea popped into my head!  I wanted to combine cuddling and desserts.       

After days of thinking and brainstorming about cuddling sweets (weird, huh?)  I thought….. “What do desserts have in common?” The answer?  Most people eat desserts with a spoon, so maybe I’ll try to combine a spoon with my cuddling pictures and that’s what I did.

It does look a little strange but that’s O.K.  You see, I wasn’t doing this for anyone and I sure wasn’t doing this to become a successful entrepreneur. I was doing this to keep my sanity and to keep my mind strong. As my cuddling spoon project developed I decided to show more people to see what they thought. It made them happy and they were smiling a lot. They also said “If you ever have them manufactured we’d buy them”.  Keep in mind, they were only on paper. I have to say that those words meant a lot to me. These friends and acquaintances didn’t realize it but they were making a new challenge for me: To research manufacturing for my spoon people.

The next day I started two weeks of solid research.  I looked for similar products, ideas, stories, and patents.  I searched for anything that would help me learn if this type of product or design already existed.  I found No Spoon People!  That meant that MY spoon people were Unique. Original.  All MINE!  Well I was on a mission now folks. 

I challenged myself to create a 3D model of them; computer designing wasn’t an issue because I have two college degrees in Engineering & Graphics.  After experimenting on the computer in modeling, I created CUDDLE SPOON PEOPLE!

First Rainbow 3d spoon model colored.So, what do you think? Would you stop now? I didn’t want to, but I had to.  You see, I’m totally disabled (since 1988) I don’t have any investment money; I haven’t had a job in over 20 years, and rely on the state for everything.  How was I going to pay for this?

What would any other person do if they were in my shoes? Well I tried to create a Crowdfunding buzz on Kickstarter or Indiegogo I mean, if a potato salad recipe can raise over $50,000 why can’t I?  Well both of my campaigns turned out to be a bust, as I got scammed (my caregiver’s credit card company reimbursed her and shut down the scammers) and I had my hopes dashed.  That was a hard lesson to deal with. It really destroyed my trust in people. I kept thinking “Now who am I going trust?”  That left me right back to the starting line…….I still need money to support my idea and someone to help me grow this business.

Let me jump off track for a minute…..Who watches Shark Tank?

I do!  Many of those investors say “The packaging of a product is very important”. Even though I still have problem raising money for my spoons, the Shark Tank people gave me another challenging quest….the PERFECT Packaging.  

Okay; where was I.  Oh yes, packaging.  I set about designing a package that is unique, eye catching AND cost efficient.  I hoped this challenge would keep me busy so I didn’t have to worry about my money problems.

Cuddle Spoons backboard prototype sketch.I thought my packaging would be tough but it really wasn’t. My mind was still involved in my cuddling spoon people and the creative ideas were still popping.  I was ON A ROLL! 

Now, I’m not experienced in products or packaging but I think that I did a good job at creating an interesting package design.  Allow me to explain my vision.

Clear box product packaging.Remember:  The keyword is Cuddling, so I asked myself where do most people cuddle? Answer: In bed. I set about designing my packaging to imitate a bed. Other than the layout resembling a bed, I also felt that there are some other interesting features that others might overlook. For instance, the packaging is square not a blister pack. Why? The package would serve as a display box so there wouldn’t be any plastic waste to throw away and damage our environment.

What do you think? Did I do a good job? I’m always thinking “GREEN”.

Eventually I was able to figure out a way to get my spoon sets manufactured but I’m not out of the woods yet, I still have to sell them all (10,000 sets) before my shipping & receiving bills come in.  

No matter how things turn out for me, I will always believe something good will come from this.  There are so many good ideas floating around in people’s heads but so many just give up?  Well I’m not one of those. 

Look at what I did!  I created this very needed, unique and meaningful product/gift from my life. Yes it only looks like a spoon, but who would guess that it would only take a spoon to change someone’s life. I don’t want you to think of what happened to me in my life; I want you to think about enjoying your life and not taking it for granted.

Here is my finished Spoon People - CUDDLES The Ultimate Unique “Gift”.

Cuddle Me spoon sets, Ice Cream photo.

My spoons are everything that I imagined and even more.  They came out perfectly.

I call them Cuddle Spoons because that’s what they do.  I designed my spoon characters to fit like a puzzle so it doesn’t matter if your special person is a man or a woman because they will fit together.

When I was able to introduce my CUDDLES to the public in my local area, everyone fell in love with them. Not because they all saw a fun cuddling spoon gift but because they saw a solution for their disabled or elderly loved ones.  I think they saw, “Disabled Man” so that must be an “Eating Aide”.

Once someone picked them up they couldn’t put them down, they just saw the need for them. And THEY SMILED!  Lots of Smiles.  Giggles.  Lots of Giggles!  I achieved my goal of making people smile.  Giving them a reason to be happy.  That’s priceless. 

So here I am, the Accidental Entrepreneur.

You have to admit that I created an incredible “Product”, “Gift”, “Eating Aide”; or call it what you like, but you can’t deny the fact that they are the most creative, fun, meaningful, affordable, useful and happy ideas ever invented.

I wrote an excellent business plan and I proved that my Cuddle Spoons can be used by all people in so many different situations.  Also the ideas for my design are endless.

Cuddles college, country, company logos.

 Cuddle Spoons were manufactured with the color of the spoon t-shirt off white and the pajama pants are in 3-4 colors and striped. If we need to change the colors for any reason it will not cost any extra. Also I wanted to make my spoons more attractive so I decided to put a custom logo on the shirt. My thought was people buy t-shirts for the designs on them so maybe I’ll sell more spoons if I put a design on the SPOON’S shirt.

I experimented with many kinds of decals and found a sheet of vinyl adhesive that I can print on so now I can design custom decals for people or businesses.  I also purchased a die cutting machine for these custom cuts. The spoon and decal had been test for quality and durability and I put my video on YouTube titled “Angry Dish Washer Test?”

Here are some other examples:

Hair & Skin color AND/OR College, Country, Business OR even Celebrity. The BedBoard print design can be changed.                                                                          

  Rainbow Free, Pink and Blue, Stars and Stripes, interracial couples.

Ice Cream Shops Advertising.   Ellen DeGeneres cartoon drawing.

I’m an intelligent person and not many challenges beat me without a fight, with that said my biggest issue these days is Marketing. I’ve created many eye catching Graphics, Animations, Videos and Blog Articles to try and get some kind of buzz for my Cuddle Spoons but I haven’t had much luck.  I openly admit that my Social Media / Marketing skills need serious help. When other entrepreneurs brag about last years sales of $500,000 they don’t mention that they had to spend $100,000's in Marketing. The profit margin for any entrepreneur is 75%; that’s the goal.  That’s in order to make a great profit and pocket some money.

Say it with spoons. Example page.

Now, let’s do some simple math… $500,000 in sales - $300,000 in marketing - $125,000 in inventory = $75,000 to pay you and your employees, business expenses and whatever else you need to run an organized business; so your yearly Net is -$25,000 and you didn’t take any pay for yourself

This is not a business anyone should be proud of. My business won’t be run like that and I will make a profit.

I am the intelligent Accidental Entrepreneur looking for an intelligent Marketing and/or Business Investor with a good, honest reputation and strong influential connections.  Basically “I need a Shark”.

I’m offering an ownership stake in Cuddle Spoons in exchange for marketing assistance that gets me positive, profitable results.  I really hope you found my blog article interesting. The bottom line is I created the ultimate gift and I want everyone to experience my Cuddle Spoons.

PLEASE believe in me and order a set or two!  THEN…….. Share ME AND CUDDLES with the world!

Thank You for taking the time to read my article!

Hard at work putting on decals. Daily smart work schedule.


Ken Vantroba



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