Adam R. Smith ’04, MBA ’11
“I love cooking, but never thought I’d create a kitchen gadget,” says Adam Smith. “But when I cooked with other people, everyone complained about coring peppers. What’s the right way? How do you keep the seeds from going everywhere? For stuffed peppers, how do you remove the insides without wasting so much of the pepper?”
Smith says the Pioneering Innovation MBA course helped him recognize that the world needed—and would buy—a pepper corer. “When customers can verbalize frustration with a task, but can’t envision a different way of doing that task, there’s an opportunity. And one night as I was falling asleep, I literally saw an item that could core peppers.”
Smith turned that vision into a product. Working with professors Charla Mathwick and Dana Bostrom and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), he prototyped a corer, then licensed it to Progressive International. The company now distributes the corer to retailers, including Portland area Kitchen Kaboodle stores (southwest Portland location pictured here).
The product launched at the 2011 International Housewares Association convention in Chicago. “With funding from the PSU Business School, I attended the launch. It was a phenomenal experience,” says Smith. He was also one of 12 students nationwide admitted to the NCIIA, which promotes commercialization of technological development at universities.
Smith is now a product manager for Portland-based Autodesk Inventor. The company develops 3D design software, which inventors use to create and test 3D models of new products—kitchen gadgets included. By Meg Descamp