Reinventing ramen OneBowl at a time
Like many other college students, Justin Herd had his fair share of ramen noodles and mac and cheese while in school. The Grand Valley State University alumnus calls it the “ramen every day” diet. Recently, Herd developed a bowl he hopes will make this diet a little bit easier for other college students also on the noodle regimen.
During Herd’s senior year at GVSU, after a packet of chicken-flavored Maruchan ramen noodles, he began to wonder why he needed a pot, a strainer, a bowl and a Tupperware container just to make one packet of noodles. He grabbed a napkin and started sketching an idea. Eight months later the OneBowl was created.
“As a kid and growing up, I didn't really spend much time building things besides Legos – I did love those,” Herd said. “My mentality, rather, has always been to solve problems. Whenever I experienced something that was annoying, too slow, or too hard, I would come up with a solution. If it worked for me it could work for everyone else too, and there you go, you have an invention.”
The OneBowl allows people to cook, strain, eat and store food all in one bowl. It is microwave safe with a built-in strainer and a snap on lid. Keeping in mind his burnt fingers from the days of straining water with a fork – Herd never owned a strainer, saying it took up too much space – he created the bowl with a rotating handle. When turned 45 degrees, the handle opens up the strainer at the bottom of the bowl to drain the noodles while keeping the hot water away from his hands.
“I think this product will appeal to college students because we know how much of a staple noodles are to starving students on a budget,” Herd said. “It is my hope that they will enjoy the convenience of the product, saving storage space and washing less (sic) dirty dishes.”
Herd thought of the idea for the OneBowl a few days before starting ENT 350: Entrepreneurial Business Plan with professor Sam Hogg. He contributes much of his product’s success to the class, which helped take him through the steps from ideation to reality.
Herd worked with a product design engineer at GVSU to make a computer aided design (CAD) model for the original prototype, which he printed in 3D. He was able to use the model to raise more funds in idea pitch competitions and then have the bowl professionally designed and prototyped.
Herd graduated in April from GVSU with a BBA in marketing and an emphasis in sales. Since graduation, he has been finalizing the design of the OneBowl and launching a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign to bring his product to market. So far, Herd has raised almost $20,000. The campaign will end on July 20 at midnight.
“The end goal for the OneBowl is to get it in the hands of college students on every college campus in Michigan, then the U.S., then the globe. I want the OneBowl to be a household name. ‘Don't go to college without an OneBowl.’”
Herd’s love for entrepreneurship also started when he was young. When he was 12 years old, his father encouraged him to hand out flyers in his neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, offering to mow lawns.
“After getting five neighbors signed up I quickly became obsessed with the idea of ‘entrepreneurship,’” Herd said. “I loved that it was possible to create my own thing, make my own hours and have no limit to my income.”
At GVSU, Herd pursued his obsession in and out of class. He served as the risk management officer for the Collegiate Entrepreneurial Organization while in school and is currently an adviser for the club. After joining the CEO, Herd worked as an intern at the DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for six months as their social media manager.
The OneBowl is Herd’s first invention. In the future, he hopes to pursue some of his other ideas to develop a brand of camping, backpacking and hiking products. However, right now he’s focusing on the success of his first project, OneBowl at a time. For more information about Herd’s invention or to donate to his Kickstarter campaign, visit www.theonebowl.com.