Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Five Thousand Dollar Doodle

A doodle netted Jared Fiorovich $5,000 and the only person who wasn't surprised was him.

"I'm always imagining things," says the 18-year-old Aptos teen who drew a sketch of an iPod shuffle case that doubles as a keychain and bottle opener to win a design competition at the MacWorld show. "Like sometimes I can't get to sleep and I'll just jot something down."

He stands in his room next to shelves stacked with broken skateboard decks and a drawer full of old shoes which he will sometimes tear apart and combine into new designs: for instance, a pair of golf shoes with skate-style soles that he spray painted silver.

"I daydream a lot," he says.

At the design contest set up by 20-year-old whiz kid Ben Kaufman, Fiorovich thought about how, since he used a skateboard as his main form of transportation, he needed to have things compact and efficient so they would fit in his pockets. He made his drawing of the holder/opener/keychain and added a cord rack, because he didn't like how his iPod cords always got tangled. Among the 120 new-product designs submitted, Fiorovich's came out on top. It's called the Bevy.

"It's rad," says Fiorovich of the fact his product is now for sale and that it includes his name on the package back.

In his room, the teen with the shaggy brown hair and faded board shorts, fires up a short video that features his skateboarding tricks, then digs into a jumbled closet of stuff for his Eagle Scout album which contains a photo of a bench he built for a local church.

He gives a short laugh. He likes it that he doesn't fit the mold: a skateboarding soon-to-be Eagle Scout inventor who's still working on his high school diploma.

A trophy for perfect attendance stands among a regiment of skateboarding trophies. He tosses a ragged ball he made out of broken shoelaces into the air.

He limps upstairs, a bumper-stickered cane clanking on the metal stairway. He had reconstructive surgery on his ankle because of his skateboard crashes. Once that heals, he'll be on to the next thing: getting into the Academy of Art in San Francisco so he can become an industrial designer.

He thinks already having an invention just might help.

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