We spoke with Tom Petrini, the founder of Evive Station, about his advice for young innovators in the engineering field.
Petrini built his company with the help of engineering students through the senior capstone design program. Evive Station offers its users double-walled BPA-free Tritan plastic reusable bottles, then allows unlimited cleaning and refilling--all for free. He brought his idea to the senior capstone design program and sponsored teams to help him create prototypes and build a business plan.
MNE: What do you think young innovators ought to know about entrepreneurship and the innovation process?
Tom Petrini: It's a life-dedicating process. Whatever it is that you're going after, your heart has to be behind it or you'll fail. You have to be able to deal with the peaks and valleys of what happens. You have to be very strong mentally and emotionally. You have to be able to hear 'no' many times before you hear a 'yes.'
MNE: What's the most rewarding part, for you, of seeing this process all the way through?
Petrini: The most rewarding part is to see people really stand behind the product and tell you how much they like it, to see something on Facebook or Twitter, or see people carrying around Evive bottles and using them. Really, at the end of the day, the coolest thing is making people's lives more convenient, and that's all I think every business shoots for: to make someone's life better in some certain way.
MNE: What advice would you give young innovators today?
Petrini: Entrepreneurship really isn't a thing that you go into and know all about. You have to be curious and want to be able to figure out any different part of a business. If you don't know, you have to go out and figure out the answer, maybe get someone to help you.
Read an article on the MNE website about how Penn State engineers contributed to Evive Station.