Hello world! My name is Grant Hamill, and it was my idea to create the iFetch. Not everyone gets to hear the whole story, but those who do always love it. So we are launching the iFetch blog with this story to share how a simple idea at the kitchen table became a huge family venture that brought us even closer together. And we are posting it today, on Father’s Day, because ultimately the iFetch story is a tribute to my grandpa.
But it all starts with our dog, Prancer. Like many of your dogs, he likes to play fetch all day long.
One morning while doing homework before school, after maybe 15 minutes of Prancer’s continuous barking to get me to throw the ball, I said to my mom: “Why don’t we make something for him that will shoot the ball when we don’t have time?” Making this a reality is extremely hard to pull off. But I had an ace up my sleeve.
My Grandpa, Denny Hamill, had the perfect combination of engineering know how (a PhD in physics no less), international business experience (as technical director and international marketing director at 3M), and ingenuity (with multiple patents to his name) to make this happen. As a fellow at IC2 (The University of Texas “Think and Do” tank for entrepreneurship), my grandpa is a highly respected advisor to local and international start-ups.
So we put his amazing experience, and Prancer’s insatiable appetite for fetch to work. We found a few videos on YouTube of some ball launchers that people had made for their dogs, so we knew the concept would work.
These homemade versions of what we now call the iFetch were far too large and complicated, so my grandpa, Denny, and I brainstormed a few ideas about how we could make a more elegant solution.
We imagined a miniature pitching machine tossing the ball over and over again for the dog. We also figured if you could teach a dog to drop a ball in your hand, that you could surely teach a dog to drop a ball into a bowl or funnel. My grandpa and I took apart a couple Hot-Wheels sets and co-opted the motor from each one. With those two motors, a plastic bowl, and one piece of the Hot-Wheels track, we had our first prototype for the iFetch.
It took many more months of working with lawyers, local engineering and design companies, and international manufacturers before we were able to bring the iFetch to market. But finally, we did it! And I’m so glad we did.
We’ve met so many fun and supportive people along the way, and we are proud of what we have accomplished. My grandpa has always been the one I go to when I have a question about the way something works. He seems to have an answer for everything, whether it is a homework problem or just a crazy question about the universe. It has been a privilege for me to work along side him and we have had so much fun. We have appeared on TV, attended trade shows, and even done some traveling all because of iFetch, but the most fun thing might just be seeing him everyday at work! Together, we look forward to getting to know all of you and continuing to bring fun products like the iFetch to market.