So why does a simple pen need the MIT treatment? After working together during overlapping studies at MIT, the co-founders of RIIND wanted to continue their passion for design and engineering through a side project. They decided a pen offered an opportunity to improve upon a very well-known tool in a meaningful way and still harness the technical excellence MIT has been known to develop within its students.
Over 20 months, they broke the pen down to its most basic elements and carefully designed each component to the most optimal specs. With a pen's heart and soul being its mechanism. “We wanted to invent a twist mechanism to be crisp and refreshingly intuitive,” says Clayton Poppe SM ’09, MBA ’09, who co-founded the company with a fellow alumnus.
Though it may look similar to many pens, the ink-tip extension and retraction mechanism is an original, proprietary design that sets it apart. Dubbed the ContinousCam, the omnidirectional binary twist mechanism can rotate a half-turn clockwise or counter-clockwise to deploy the pen, as opposed to most rotating pens, which require the pen to open and close in a specific direction.
“The pen is a simple tool,” says Poppe, “but as an extension of your mind it becomes powerful.” Other aspects that set their design apart is its ability to fit various ink cartridges, the flexibility and indestructibility of the clip, and the non-slip machine texture of the grip.
“We’re developing this brand new technology, competing against commodity projects,” says Poppe. “We’re offering great innovation and great manufacturing. We’re not inventing a new pen but we’re taking something that’s a tool that everybody uses and making it better, more personal, and developing a connection with our customers.”
After perfecting their design, the pair got financial support from a Kickstarter campaign last summer and now is making waves in the pen enthusiast community, which, as it turns out, is quite substantial. They quickly surpassed their goal, which gave them the ability to decrease the cost of their pen to less than $100, a suggestion from pen bloggers.
Poppe—who works at a startup that develops green materials as alternatives to wood composites, particleboard, and plywood—has enjoyed the opportunity to work very closely with RIIND's customers as the team aims to provide the best designs and offer excellent customer service, worldwide.