Engineer Peter Van Davelaar knows how much most people love coffee. But what happens if they don’t own or have the space for a single-cup coffee maker? Van Davelaar’s answer is the portable M-Wave Brewer.
The M-Wave Brewer is compatible with single-use coffee pods like the ones used for a Keurig. To use the brewer, just insert the pod, add water and set the brewer over an empty cup in the microwave for three minutes. The patent is still pending on Van Davelaar’s creation, but he credits the Richmond-based Virginia Innovators Network (VINE) for helping him turn the concept, and many others, into a reality.
“The VINE meetings help to keep me motivated during a very long process. Sharing a common purpose, running into the same roadblocks and sharing how you got around them is very helpful,” he said.
Virginia Innovators Network, co-founded in 2012 by Richmond patent attorney and engineer Brian Teague and Richmond entrepreneur Mike Bucci, currently has about 975 members. It’s a non-profit created to educating innovators on how to successfully bring their products and services to market.
“With any luck, these early-stage innovators will be the next big company or, at the very least, the next provider of some helpful device or process that people find helpful,” Teague said.
Teague said VINE members have access to industry experts who speak to them on a variety of topics like product development, design, manufacturing, legal issues and marketing. He said some of the most valuable speakers have been fellow innovators who’ve been through the process already, who share the lessons they’ve learned.
“The networking that goes on, there’s so much cross-pollination of ideas and helpful hints,” he said. “There will be two people talking … and someone will say, ‘Paul over there knows about that,’ and it’s a tremendously helpful part of our meetings.”
Teague said it’s a combination of things that will lead entrepreneurs and their products toward success, and VINE has the resources to help.
“What I like to tell people is you need a good idea; you need to work incredibly hard at it; you need a pretty good amount of money and you need a good amount of luck as well,” he said.