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BUSINESS PLAN

Launching new ideas in Marblehead

Marblehead is known for its yachting and its roll in the early years of the US Navy, but resident John Feigener this year launched a nonprofit platform for another ship: entrepreneurship.

Little Harbor Collective is a collaborator incubator inside Feigener’s product design and development firm, Tool Inc.

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“We [Tool Inc.] occupy about 7,000 square feet in our building, said Feigener, 51. “There was some additional vacant space. I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to open it up to the creative community or startups looking for space who want to be connected to a firm that can help guide them and bounce ideas off of?’”

Feigener knows what it takes to get an idea off the ground. Eighteen years ago, he founded Tool Inc., now a 13-person firm with clients such as Reebok, adidas, and the Department of Defense. Tool Inc.’s designs include the Makerbot Replicator, snowshoes for L.L.Bean, racks for Thule, and helmets for Burton and Huffy.

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We spoke with Feigener.

Q. New ideas “factory”?

A. Say you have a job, but you’re an inventor and you come up with new ways to solve problems in whatever field. Or, you have an idea we think is valid, but you don’t have the capital to pay for our [Tool Inc.] services or the development of it. I’m willing to support that, help design and engineer, help secure some funding through venture capital to get it produced. We can help with patent attorneys and take it all the way through to manufacturing. For people with ideas, it’s a great spot to get started and take that idea to the next step.

Q. Typical desk/internet makerspace vs. Little Harbor Collective?

A. There’s 3-D printing, [Computer Aided Design] stations, laser cutters, industrial design stations, and advice. The advantage being next to us [Tool Inc.] is if you don’t have a particular expertise and want to bounce ideas off say, a mechanical engineer, industrial designer, or somebody with a consumer insight focus, we are available for that dialogue to happen. In fact, I encourage it.

Q. Price to join?

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A. There’s some basic pricing on the website. ($350/month, plus hourly options.) I’m open to discussion. It’s a nonprofit.

Q. Seaside vs. city?

A. My house is 1 mile away. I bike, I walk here. I don’t envy people commuting into the city. It’s a drain.

Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at kathy@kathyshielstully.com.
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