Alex Carr, an undergrad studying sports science and Persian, will never forget the disappointment he felt when abandoning his skiing plans after spending an hour and a half hiking up to a peak in the Utah back country.
“It was when I reached the summit that I realized the bindings on my skis had been adjusted by a friend who had borrowed them,” Carr says. “I spent the next hour trying to find a tool I could use to adjust my bindings to the correct size, but with no luck.”
Desperate, Carr tried everything that he thought might work as a screwdriver: pocket change, a small rock and twigs; all to no avail. With no other choice, he began the hike back down the mountain as his friends skied by on two feet of fresh powder.
“It was then, on my long hike down the mountain, I decided I had to make it my mission to create ski poles that had screwdrivers in the handles,” Carr says.
After learning organizational and problem solving skills in the Innovation Scholar program, Carr knew he could turn his idea into a real, marketable product. Moreover, he gained the confidence to expand his idea into a much bigger goal — to completely change the way ski poles were designed, engineered, manufactured and used.
“The Innovation Scholar program is a necessity to any young entrepreneur,” Carr says. “The tools and resources offered by this program have the ability to make a world of difference for any innovator.”
Carr then applied for and was accepted into the U’s Foundry and participated in the techTITANS competition — both of which he credits as being experiences fundamental to his success.
Since that day on the slopes, Carr has created much more than just ski poles equipped with screwdrivers. His company, Char Poles, is now a leading innovator in ski poles with various patents pending for design and utility. Featuring a product line that offers unprecedented interchangeability and customization, Char Poles’ many-colored ski poles can work as monopods, feature bottle openers in their baskets and, paying homage to the idea that started it all, have tools in each of the handles.
Recently, Char Poles officially launched its product lines at the SnowSports Industry America (SIA) trade show where they were named one of the top 10 innovative and creative products by Skiing Magazine and made it on the SIA trade show “Wish List.”
“It is a big opportunity for me to make my new dreams come true,” Carr says.