Bags for a Brighter Future

What if a solar panel fit right in your backpack?

That was the vision of Adrian Solgaard, founder of Solgaard Design. The company’s Lifepack comes equipped with a solar powered bluetooth speaker, as well as an integrated lock to make it essentially theft-proof. It all falls in line with Solgaard’s idea to create beautiful products that also make lives easier.

Solgaard recently unveiled two new products at a pop-up store in New York City: the Carry-On Closet suitcase and HEX watches. We caught up up with Solgaard to ask him about the release, his background and Solgaard Design’s goals.

BTRtoday (BTR): Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started inventing things?

Adrian Solgaard (AS): So my background is actually in television. I was working making BMX movies all through my teenage years. When I was 18 I got a job as a receptionist at a TV production studio to really come a job. The editor got sick one day and I said can I do his job. I ended up jumping in his seat, and by the end of the day they fired him and I got his job. From there I just kind of went forward basically telling stories and doing creative work, making films and this kind of stuff.

I made my first product in 2013. I was seeing this girl and her bag got stolen, and I wanted to make a bag with a lock in it to impress her. So I made that bag and launched on Kickstarter. It went on to raise $2 million dollars last year, and now I’m running the company and developing more more more products just trying to solve needs.

BTR: Can you tell us more about Solgaard’s new suitcase?

AS: I made a suitcase that has a built in shelf system. It’s actually a retractable system that you can stack all your clothes in, and when you compress it on itself it fits into a carry-on suitcase. And then when you get to the hotel again you open up a suitcase and you look through the shelf system and everything you need is right there.

BTR: Solgaard’s new watch also has a unique design—can you tell us about that as well?

AS: I’ve been wanting to make a watch for 10 years and have been developing it for about two years. I made this clock that I put on a shelf once and it was a hexagon shape. And I realized quickly it was actually easier to tell the time because the clock face was so simple to see which sides were up and down. It was really easy to see, and I translated that into a watch.

BTR: What’s some advice for people trying to start their own company and get ideas off the ground?

AS: You just really can’t be precious. You can’t think that you’re special. Don’t look don’t ask your mom’s advice about whether she thinks you have a good idea. Before launching your product you really need to get a wide variety of opinions from people and just check to make sure that it is something that people are interested in.

That’s what’s great about using Kickstarter as a platform to launch things, especially if it’s your first time creating a product. You can do your micro-testing amongst whatever niche of people you might know and then you can find out you know how is this going to fit in the market, and then you go from there I’ve seen some inventors create great ideas, but there is no practical use case for it for more than 10 people in the world. So I think that that’s something you just really need to be honest with yourself about.