February 20, 2017

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Reel Smart

They say necessity is the mother of invention. But sometimes… it’s really not.

That’s why I love this story. Ehud Nagler was an Israeli engineer, and he could invent some pretty impressive stuff, no question. But finding a purpose or application for what he was inventing? Not necessarily his strong suit.

See, in 2001, Nagler invented a water-powered engine, rather unlike anything on the market. The thing was, he didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with it.

So he brought the idea to Zvika Yemini, a local business titan who’d had success with everything from shower heads to plastic tool boxes that he’d designed for Home Depot. Yemini looked at nagler’s water-powered engine, and he had an idea.

Attach the engine to a garden hose reel, creating a self-retracting hose, powered by the very water already coursing through it.

A pretty smart idea. Of course, Israel isn’t exactly known for its Lawn Care Enthusiasts. So Yemini and Nagler took their product to the US and Europe.

Turns out that their product, Reel Smart, was just the right balance of novelty and function. Consumers ate it up, and Yemini and Nagler, along with their newly formed Hydro-Industries, were reeling in the dough. Sales quickly jumped from two million to ten million… and within six years, to 23 million.

Today, there are more than a dozen models of the Reel-Smart “no-crank” contraption. And, despite my lack of a garden or a hose, I’m almost tempted to get one. You can pick up some of the simpler models for around 50 bucks. Not a bad deal.

But what I really appreciate about all of this is the partnership involved. Neither Ehud Nagler nor Zvika Yemini could have made this product–or made a fortune from it–on their own. It was their unique talents and skills combined that created the possibility for success. Furthermore, Nagler had the wisdom to know both his strengths and weaknesses. You’d have to ask him yourself, but I’d bet that taking his idea to Mr. Yemini was one of the smartest things he’s ever done.

On that note- if anybody out there has recently invented a seemingly useless but revolutionary technology which they don’t know how to apply, I know a guy…



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