Innovation Spotlight: Hunter Creative Labs
This is the sixth article for the new Innovation Spotlight series for the DCD Blog, where we interview some of the newest and most creative companies popping up in the Boston area. If you would like to be featured in our series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Company: Hunter Creative Labs
Interviewee:Rebecca Devaney (CEO/Co-Founder) and Kate Babcock (Director of Operations/Co-Founder)
What do a towel, a pill bottle cap, and a keychain all have in common?
Hunter Creative Labs is using them all to save the world.
Hunter Creative Labs was co-founded by Rebecca Devaney, Phil Reese, and Kate Babcock to help reduce suffering in the world on a large scale. Whether it’s through bettering senior care, creating more secure pill bottles, or simply helping women feel more secure in public, their goal is to develop products that solve problems and have a positive impact on any market they enter.
Rebecca Devaney, CEO and Co-Founder of Hunter Creative Labs
In fact, creating a positive impact was a major motivator when Devaney decided to start Hunter Creative Labs. While she felt her first company, Lyve Media, was wonderful to work for, it lacked a little something. “It wasn’t very mission-based,” she says, and she wanted to start something that would have a bigger social impact and create meaningful change. She meditated on what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, and realized that she would rather be part of a melting pot of ideas than just a straight and narrow focus.
It was a smart move. There is high potential for good already coming out of this melting pot. One example is their new pill lock, aptly named Plock. In the next 4 years alone, there are going to be approximately 500,000,000 opioid prescriptions written. To young children, prescription pills don’t look too different from candy, and once they discover where the “stash” is being kept, it’s only a matter of time before they get their hands on the medication. While many pill bottles are already largely childproof, Plock, a reuseable pill bottle cap with a built-in combination lock, takes things one step further. Not only are does it keep medications out of the hands of children, but Plock provides a way for caretakers of recovering opioid addicts to regulate their medication and make sure they are unable to fall back into abuse. What’s more, the lock is designed to be friendly and usable even for people suffering from dexterity issues, such as arthritis.
Where does the inspiration for such impactful products come from? From all over the place, as it turns out. Babcock says that since she’s started working at Hunter, she’s started looking at the world in a new way. Now, she finds patterns and connections all over the place, and she feels more aware of problems and issues in the world. The news, background conversations, or any place where you can find a common thread all contribute to the innovation process at Hunter Creative Labs.
This table COVERED in notes gives us a sneak peek at the Hunter Labs innovation process.
Unfortunately, not all ideas survive to see creation. Part of the innovation process at Hunter Creative Labs is to embrace the chaos and entropy of the world. They begin with an idea pulled from a seemingly random place, and then begin to size up the market, applying some order to an otherwise chaotic situation. From there, they invest heavily in risk assessment, especially for things like medical devices, then do surveys to determine how important the problem is and how satisfied the market is with the solution. When it looks like they’ve found a solution strong enough to carve out a niche, it’s prototype time, utilizing both digital modeling and physical prototypes.
As much as they would love to see every product brought to life, they have to be smart about how they do things. They are a lean, self-funded startup, and a major part of their work goes into finding resources to be able to get through every stage of a product’s development.
As Director of Operations, Babcock has to have a lot of conversations about how she’s going view the next few months, the best way to handle rejections, or when it’s time to decide to admit defeat. Even when she’s exhausted and feeling like she’s at a dead end, Babcock does everything she can to keep pushing forward, and she’s found that finding the path to the product can be more work than actually making the product itself. Realizing that nothing is a straight line and potentially seeing the beauty in that kind of journey has been very rewarding for her.
Kate Babcock, Director of Operations and Co-Founder of Hunter Creative Labs
Right now, Hunter is working on raising $1.5 million to spin off two daughter companies. These companies will be focused on single products, and would include a full team that can launch with support already built. It’s an interesting experience for Devaney and Babcock, as it’s their first time going through the fundraising process. They’ve learned so much about investing and marketing, and according to them, they’re enjoying it immensely. And while the idea of pitching and convincing people to put their trust in the company can be daunting, they are willing to do the work in order to sell their collective fantasy.
Part of that fantasy includes making people feel empowered, both for the customers and the Hunter team itself. They feel that even if you don’t come up with the big solution, making incremental change will still improve quality of life. They both stress that it’s important not to be overwhelmed by the whole picture; just find a little thing to work on that can better the lives of those around them, even just locally. “And volunteer more,” Devaney advises, “because you get ingrained much better into your own community through giving of yourself.” The more connected you can become, the more joy you experience.
Those of us here at DCD were thrilled to have Devaney and Babcock stop by our office for their interview.
And if Devaney and Babcock have anything to say about it, the world is about to become significantly more joyful.