Wired In: Benjamin Khachaturian

Wired In: Benjamin Khachaturian

Each week, staff writer Paul Wood chats with a high-tech difference-maker. This week, meet BENJAMIN KHACHATURIAN, founder and CEO of RingWing LLC, a catchable toy glider that kids can use indoors. He's also an FAA-certified commercial drone operator and a DJ.

How did you get into this?

I love things that fly. I always have. I started building RC airplanes when I was 10 and built my own design when I was 12. One that I built called "The Ringer" got over 50,000 views on YouTube. So RingWing is not my first or last time working with flying rings.

Tell us about your product.

Playing catch indoors breaks things. Nerf balls knock things over. But RingWing, our patent-pending toy catchable glider, weighs just an ounce, making it safe to play catch indoors without breaking things. We help kids gain confidence catch by catch, and wonder what else they might be capable of.

How did you come up with this idea?

I was building a revolutionary new drone idea that I had, and when that idea didn't work, I used the parts to build the first RingWing prototype. After throwing that around with hundreds of people, we went through almost 20 different iterations before arriving at our current patent-pending design.

Ringwing is quite a step up from the Frisbee. What is the principal of flight with this?

The two back rings are really essential. They provide the aerodynamic stabilization that allows RingWing to glide so nicely.

That sounds pretty fun. Can I buy one now, and what would it cost?

Anyone in the U.S. can order RingWing now at CatchRingWing.com and have it shipped to their door. It's $14.99.

Who else is on your team?

My brother Christian and I have seen this product from concept to selling into stores and love coming up with new ideas.

Do you have any patents?

I have a patent pending in design and utility for RingWing. I also have a registered trademark.

What's your best advice for someone who's starting up?

It's OK to fail. Just don't take years doing it. Fail quickly. Better yet choose not to fail at all: Instead make each failure a chance to learn and get back on the horse. Make the necessary changes or work on something else completely. Be persistent. Be patient. Don't rush. Share your idea with potential customers and get feedback. Only from understanding the needs of your customers can you create a product that they not only need but are willing to pay for.

How is RingWing doing after its first few months?

Since releasing on March 15, we have sold thousands of RingWing gliders on our website and into 22 stores in 15 states. We continue to grow all the time. Aside from winning $5,000 in cash for having the best pitch at the Cozad New Venture Competition, we have also received $10,000 in funding as a startup in the iVenture Accelerator at the University of Illinois.

TECH TIDBITS ... from BENJAMIN KHACHATURIAN

Where can we find you on social media? Facebook Messenger.

Book or Kindle? What are you reading right now? Nothing beats paper and ink. Currently reading The Bible and "Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!" by Lori Greiner.

Do you have any wearable electronics? I have worn a first-generation Apple Watch for almost three years now.

Do you have an entrepreneur hero? My dad owns Stevie Jay Broadcasting in Champaign, and I love the entrepreneurial spirit he brings to his business. My uncle Jon Khachaturian has been an entrepreneur his whole life. Watching him succeed and grow his business was downright inspiring growing up.

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