Career Changers

Local Inventor Wins 'Aviation Week' Award

September 30th, 2010

At CCTV, we're always looking for newsworthy stuff that might get overlooked by the mainstream local media. Sometimes we even come up with scoops like this one: Dr. Rob Yonover, a Hawaii Kai inventor, just learned his Mini Rescue Pocket/Float won  the Aviation Week multimedia company's Innovation Award in the Communications category. Our segment on Rob's life-saving rescue devices starts airing on OC16 next Thurs., Oct. 7.

Basically, Rob works out of his house -- and yet he was competing with giant international corporations. "I was honored and humbled to win an award that included aerospace companies Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed, " he said. "I got an extra kick out of being in the small company category for companies with gross sales under $50 million -- if they only knew I was hardcore inventing technologies on my lanai floor!"

His reference to "hardcore inventing" is by design. Rob co-authored a book called Hardcore Inventing, which includes a wealth of information and practical how-to advice for entrepreneurs. (You'll find a link to his site at the end of this post.) His Mini Rescue Pocket/Float idea was inspired by a story he heard about a guy who kept himself afloat in the ocean by blowing up a condom. Rob's version is a bit more sophisticated, but still very compact.

On a related note, Robert Olague, another local entrepreneur (who introduced me to Rob Yonover) was contacted by the Shark Tank television show about his video name tag invention, which we featured on our current episode. That video is posted on our website. When I first spoke to him about doing a segment for CCTV, I mentioned that I really liked Shark Tank but ABC kept yanking it from their prime time schedule. Robert doesn't watch much TV though, so he hadn't seen it until he went to their website and viewed past episodes online.

Long story short, Robert pitched his video name tag to the producers through their site -- and got a call back from them! The producers have asked him to provide a more detailed video "audition" of himself for consideration to be on the program. For those of you who haven't seen it, Shark Tank is a group of wealthy businessmen who listen to pitches for new products or services, and then decide if they want to invest in that person's venture. The "Sharks" can be pretty cold and cruel when giving feedback or negotiating deals with budding entrepreneurs, who are sometimes in dire straits as a result of pursuing their dreams.

We'll keep you posted on Robert's progress, as well as other local success stories like Rob Yonover.  One thing I've noticed about people like them is that you rarely hear them get negative. When they encounter problems, they shrug them off and figure out ways to get around obstacles. If you ask me, the main thing holding back our government and economy -- locally and nationally -- is the constant stream of negativity we keep hearing day in, day out. No wonder people are angry and frustrated. They've forgotten that change starts with themselves and thinking in positive terms when presented with challenges. Griping and complaining seldom accomplishes anything.

Anyhow, check out the links and look for Rob Yonover on next month's Career Changers TV, beginning Oct. 7. Be there, aloha!


Here's the Aviation Week link to the Innovation Awards page. Scroll down to the communications category and click to see Rob's Mini Rescue Pocket/Float device.

For more invention-related stories and advice, visit I've read his book and highly recommend it to any aspiring inventor or entrepreneur.

Shark Tank television show (with instructions on how you to can pitch your product to them).

And of course, please visit CareerChangers.TV for show times and video links, including the aforementioned segment about Robert's video name tag invention and Mark Bell's MP3 TP dispenser music player (stay tuned for news on that product "rolling out" soon!).

4 Responses to “Local Inventor Wins 'Aviation Week' Award”

  1. Ellie Crowe:

    Well written and interesting article - thx! And you're so right abt the way those who succeed just go ahead, overcome problems, and stay positive. "Hardcore Inventing" is full of people like that. Inspirational 🙂

  2. Rich Figel:

    Thanks, Ellie! I should have noted in the post that Ellie is the co-author of Hardcore Inventing, and is an award-winning writer herself.

    Here's a link to her website, which lists her books:

  3. Gary Franklin:

    Great article!
    Roberts drive and success is a real inspiration for all.
    I am also a local inventor, working on getting my products licensed. It is great to have someone give back their knowledge and experience of the whole roller coaster ride of inventing.


  4. Rich Figel:

    Hey, Gary -

    Can you divulge what type of product you're working on? Here's your chance to get a little free publicity! Got an "elevator pitch" you can share with us?