When Camp Invention® alumnus Ayaan Naqvi was in fourth grade, he was tasked with coming up with his own product for a school project. He had many different ideas, but at first, none of them clicked.
Then one day, while looking at his family’s Christmas tree, he thought about how every year, at least three or four of their ornaments would fall to the ground and shatter. Sometimes the culprit was Zara, the family’s Labrador retriever. Other times, the ornaments were bumped by accident as Ayaan played with his older brother and fellow Camp Invention alumnus, Mika’il.
Ayaan also thought about the sentimental ornaments that had been broken and realized that inventing a way to attach these keepsakes more effectively to the tree could make for a great invention.
After talking about the idea with Mika’il and their mother, Amanda, the three began researching different materials and building the initial prototypes. In contrast to traditional wire ornament hangers and ribbons that hook or drape over a branch, the Ornament Anchor’s loop and pull system secures ornaments safely in place.
Equipped with a poster board describing his product, Ayaan presented the Ornament Anchor to his entire school and the response was overwhelming.
“Everyone was swarming my booth and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, this is an amazing invention,’ and they wanted to know where they could buy it,” Ayaan said in an interview with NIHF. “I thought to myself that Ornament Anchor could become something big.”
He was right.
From School Project to QVC and National News
Together with his brother, Ayaan has been able to transform Ornament Anchor from a school assignment into a thriving business that has sold more than 400,000 units. Recently, the product was even featured on CNN and QVC.
How have two brothers, now in seventh and eighth grade, achieved so much success? Of course, hard work, persistence and a little luck have played a part. However, according to Amanda, equally important is the early exposure to invention education her sons have experienced at Camp Invention.
“Camp Invention exposed them to so many great problem-solving opportunities and gave them new ways of looking at things,” Amanda said. “Every day, they would come home so excited to share their creative adventures, and by the end of the week, they would be so sad that it was over.”
Both brothers credit Camp Invention with introducing them to business fundamentals and providing them with valuable experience pitching a product. From 2016 to 2019, the boys attended camp together and enjoyed teaming up and inventing their own creations.
“Camp Invention sparked my interest in business, and before going there, I had no idea I could sell things and pitch them,” Mika’il said. “We learned about branding, trademarks and copyrights — things that really opened us up to this wonderful world of entrepreneurship.”
This early exposure to the basics of intellectual property would prove extremely helpful when the family filed a patent for the Ornament Anchor design. After receiving the documentation from their attorney, the brothers took a hands-on approach to the process and were not at all intimidated. Armed with their highlighters, they combed through the patent search documents and did much of the initial review all on their own.
“To have them take the responsibility of doing that was so important, and thanks to Camp Invention, this was not the first time they were exposed to a patent,” their father Hamza said. “It’s impressive that they were able to do that.”
Learning by Doing
In addition to juggling the responsibilities of school, the brothers spend each day working to grow their business. While their parents remain a constant and reliable source of support, both Ayaan and Mika’il try to do things independently before asking for help.
“I feel like all kid entrepreneurs should do their own work and not cheap out because it really makes you feel so good,” Mika’il said. “That feeling of achievement makes you want to keep going and going.”
Instilling this sense of ownership and confidence in their children is something that Amanda and Hamza prioritize. When asked what advice she has for parents whose children are interested in inventing, Amanda remarked that parents should not discount what kids are capable of.
“Don’t think of children as too young,” Amanda said. “Don’t be afraid to give them a little responsibility or challenge them to do something they haven’t done before. They will figure it out and most likely surprise you!”
For both Ayaan and Mika’il, their own journey as young entrepreneurs is proof that it’s never too early to pursue an idea you believe in.
“If you have an idea, and you believe in it, then you go get it because you don’t know where it could take you,” Mika’il said. “You should do whatever you believe in, pursue your dreams and always do your best!”
Ayaan has similar guidance for kids their age interested in inventing.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down; it’s all about the amount of times you get back up and keep fighting to pursue your dreams,” Ayaan said. “If something doesn’t work at first, just keep going.”
A Special Thank You
In addition to the unwavering support of their parents and the creative mindset gained from attending Camp Invention, both brothers are thankful for Mr. Messina, their fourth-grade home room teacher, for his kindness and always believing in them.
They would also like to thank Mrs. Catone, their enrichment teacher in fifth and sixth grade who would always find ways to teach lessons in fun and creative ways.
As Ayaan and Mika’il continue working together on growing their Ornament Anchor business, their goal is to create new marketing campaigns and try to place their products in more retail stores.
Recently they applied and were accepted into Amazon’s Launchpad program, giving them expanded benefits and features while selling their product online.
Do You Have a Camp Invention Story?
To learn more about this year’s Camp Invention program, visit our website!