RBB Systems, a small batch electronic manufacturer, recently served their "smallest" batch customer to date. Thirteen-year-old Stan Asjes from Nevada, Iowa approached the circuit board manufacturer with hopes of implementing his concept of a pen-sized houseplant gadget. The probe would be inserted into the soil of a houseplant, lighting up red to indicate when it needed watering, which led to its' name "Umoris," Latin for moisture. Stan searched the Internet to find RBB, and then picked up the phone and called the company directly, hoping they would be able to provide the small LED prototype the device required.
When Bruce Hendrick, RBB President and CEO, got wind of the call, he was intrigued by Stan's enthusiasm and jumped at the chance to help and invest in him at such an impressionable age. "Something in Stan cheered me. Maybe it was his idea, his fresh entrepreneurial spirit, or his polite Midwestern manner," Hendrick said.
Hendrick proceeded to mentor Stan remotely to help his idea come to life. He challenged him to think like a future entrepreneur and devise a business plan that would include his budget, target market, price point and competitive positioning. When Stan came back to RBB and reported his budget of $60, Hendrick encouraged him to donate the money to a local charity instead of paying RBB. Meanwhile, RBB set out to develop the single prototype needed for the device that would alert the user their plant's soil had dried out and required watering. When the prototype arrived at Stan's door, Hendrick felt the 13-year-old had truly transformed and was beginning to think like a business owner. Not only was Hendrick happy he could assist Stan in his endeavors, but was also able to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education and support a 13-year-old in following his dreams as a future entrepreneur in the industry.
The RBB mission statement was apparent throughout the entire process. Moving heaven and earth to get small batch electronics customers what they need, when they need it, is exactly what RBB did for Stan, even if it was their smallest project yet.
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