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As a child, Evan Savar took apart his Christmas presents just to see how they worked. Now 21, he has invented a trophy picture stand, a talking gift wrap bow and a silicone flat-screen TV effect.
And he's only a few years out of high school.
"I was a little bit of a troublemaker in school," he said, "... voted 'class clown.' "
When he was in first grade, a substitute teacher had enough of his antics. She refused to let him go get a tissue to blow his nose. It was about that time the class was preparing for a science fair, he said, so he invented the "Evan 2000," a belt that held tissues and sanitizer, "so you'll always have those things handy."
Throughout grade school and middle school, he thought up other ways to make his life more comfortable, though none resulted into a marketable product.
Inventions, he said, just come to him. Take his latest one -- the Digital Photo Trophy. His invention is the box-like base that can be programmed to show a stream of digital photos, as many as 100 in a loop, great for team shots and those special moments on the field or court.
The idea for that one also came from necessity.
As a youngster, Savar enrolled in tennis camp, played basketball and baseball and was on the volleyball and soccer teams at Palo Verde High School, 333 S. Pavilion Center Drive. With each one, he got a trophy. They began filling up his bedroom.
"They all kind of looked the same, and I couldn't remember (which was for which)," he said. "I thought, "There has to be a better way.' "
That better way was to add the digital photo display, an idea already used on keychain fobs. Getting the prototype together took about a year and a half. Enlisting the help of a friend, Augsman Roy, an engineering student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, led to getting a patent for it. He did it all as economically as possible and spent a mere $500.
Prototype in hand, he approached the Awards and Recognition Association in February 2009. A meeting was set up in El Monte, Calif. The trip began badly when his car broke down.
Savar scrambled to get on a bus for a 10-hour ride to the meeting. He made it in time and was well-received, but his idea ... not so much.
"They told me it wasn't feasible, that no one would ever buy it," he said.
But his own research told him it was feasible. Back in Las Vegas, Savar contacted the keychain fob inventor, Lingtao Wang of TAO Electronics, and ended up partnering with him. As a result, the trophy idea got off the ground and sold about 4,000 units.
TAO Electronics had a booth at the annual ARA convention in Las Vegas. There, his trophy base garnered attention and was awarded "Best New Product."
"Here the whole industry was, like, 'It'll never work,' then they give me this award, " he said. "I thought it was hilarious."
Wang said he has been approached by at least 15 inventors in the past five years and seen promise in only two. The other was a keychain with the capacity to hold 100 photos.
He said Savar's idea was a needed commodity with a distinct appeal.
"People are kind of crazy with the iPhone right now ... they love multimedia kind of stuff," he said.
Savar's mother, Cindy Fox, said her son always has had a mind that looks for solutions. When his older brother Hal, a musician, was playing summer gigs on an aluminum stage in 115-degree heat, Evan borrowed an idea from marathon runners. He rigged a backpack with a water reservoir and ran a sipping tube around it.
Her garage, she said, is filled with his "dinosaurs" -- his not-quite-ready-for-prime-time inventions.
"He has one of the three bays," she said. "His car has to be parked outside because of all his stuff."
Since winning the award, his idea has morphed into the World's Greatest Trophy. It can be engraved with any title -- World's Greatest Dad, World's Greatest Golfer, World's Greatest Shopper -- and includes the World's Greatest People website, theworldsgreatest people.com, where family and friends can post comments, making the gift even more endearing.
Since then, he's added a talking gift wrap bow to his list of inventions and a silicone flat-screen TV wrap that complements one's decor when the TV is off. He plans to offer 100 different designs, everything from zebra stripes to polka dots.
Who knows what he'll invent next.
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]The Million-Dollar Idea in Everyone: Easy New Ways to Make Money from Your Interests, Insights, and Inventions IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great IdeaHow to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur's Guide by Dan S. Kennedy 101 Businesses You Can Start With Less Than One Thousand Dollars: For Stay-at-Home Moms & DadsMake Your Ideas Mean BusinessLink of the day - If You Sell Links On Your Site, I Will Buy Them Off You