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Business // Entrepreneurs
Christina O’Connor

Student Hopes To Kick-Start Pen Line

Grant Takara with his Airfoil pen | Photo from Grant Takara

Grant Takara with his Airfoil pen | Photo from Grant Takara

Like a lot of children, Grant Takara loved to build things when he was a kid. He often would spend a whole Saturday making his own toy ships or cars out of cardboard and glue. For Takara, this childhood inclination never ended. When he entered Kalani High School, he signed up for the robotics team and spent the next four years building robots.

More recently, Takara, who is now a 19-year-old junior at UH-Manoa, created a series of high-end twist ballpoint pens called the Airfoil Writing Collection. He hopes to launch his own pen company Masterstroke, and is seeking financial backing via online crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

“The most fulfilling aspect of the pen that the user can get out of it is its unique design,” says Takara, who is studying mechanical engineering with minors in economics and business. “Most pens have a plain cylindrical body. Airfoil has curves and an open body that exposes the aviation-inspired framework, and an end cap that represents a jet engine housing.”

Each pen is hand-crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum or titanium, and styled with 24K gold, black nickel and chrome-colored nickel. It then is polished and laser-engraved with the brand identification. So far, the collection’s two styles come in a range of colors and trims.

Takara, who has an appreciation for high-end pens, observed that notable brands were losing their originality because of knockoffs. Takara decided to craft his own – one that stood out and was durable. He spent weeks perfecting his product, from the initial sketches to a 3-D computer model. Once he had a prototype, he reworked his design a few times and made necessary modifications.

He launched his Kick-starter campaign Dec. 24. As of press time, Takara had earned $9,669 toward his $50,000 goal. The catch is that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal. That means that Airfoil will only get funded if it receives at least $50,000 worth of pledges by 6:11 p.m. Feb. 7.

“If I get full funding, I will definitely produce the current pens that are on my Kickstarter page, and my backers will get those,” Takara explains.

“With the profits that I get from that, I will reinvest it into expanding my product line and into making new pens,” he says, adding that he will likely focus on e-commerce for the next year, but also may aim to sell Masterstroke products in stores in the future.

“I’d like it to become a recognized pen company, and I would like to introduce two or three more designs.”

This all sounds incredibly ambitious for a 19-year-old college student, but Takara already has one successful business venture under his belt. Just days after he graduated from Kalani in 2012, Takara and two former classmates launched Bristolbots LLC, which creates educational introductory robots for K-12 schools, universities, the military and more. Their product aims to teach beginner-level STEM skills and act as a stepping stone into robotics.

One of the reasons that Takara hopes Airfoil receives full funding is so he can use the proceeds to support robotics programs and encourage STEM interest among younger students.

“I’d like to give back to the programs that have really shaped me into the individual that I am,” he says. “(Robotics) inspires these kids to adventure into the fields of entrepreneurship, engineering and medicine. These programs are really great.”

To learn more about Airfoil and to become a backer of the project, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1433863567/airfoil-the-beautiful-aviation-inspired-twist-ball.

coconnor@midweek.com

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