Bridging Gaps

Bridging The Gaps

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway and Conner Hazelrigg, Founder & CEO of 1773 Innovation Company, talk about using technology and innovation to positively impact poverty-stricken communities. Bridging the gaps describes what is needed in order to connect ideas, spaces, and concepts. The perfect place for social impact entrepreneurs! Who are also known to be hyper-focused on their why.

Covered in this episode

Are you stuck in your entrepreneurship journey? Perhaps it’s because you haven’t clearly defined your “why.” Hear meaningful discussions around the thought that when you focus on your why you can figure out the “how” easier. Being a Founder and CEO is not an easy task; that’s why we bring together entrepreneurs to talk about their stories and hopefully help you on your own entrepreneurial journey.

Find out what Lauren Conaway and Conner Hazelrigg have to say about bringing trust and buy-in from the community in this episode of Startup Hustle.

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Audio Notes

  • Founder’s backstory (2:05)
  • What the sunshine box is about (3:18)
  • Importance of the sunshine box to the people. (4:45)
  • How to empower agents. (7:00)
  • How the “box” was developed. (9:20)
  • Benefactors of the sunshine box (15:29)
  • Next level of cell phone service, money transfers, and other technologies. (16:32)
  • Buy-in to the community that they serve. (18:23)
  • Building the trust to bring the products to everyone (19:30)
  • Where the sunshine box has been deployed to (22:48)
  • Some advice on how to bridge the gap (25:11)
  • The value of relationship building (26:43)
  • What is the future of the sunshine box (28:38)
  • Top tips in understanding the gaps and staying agile (31:32)
  • Thoughts on Mentorship. (34:25)
  • What’s it like to be an inventor (38:59)
  • The constant driver to entrepreneurship(40:44)
  • The human question (42:04)
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Key Quotes

I hate to use the word solution because no one solution will fit a big world problem.

Conner Hazelrigg

Understand the value of relationships and embrace those that you have.

Conner Hazelrigg

Sometimes you realize it’s the same problem but you found a different solution.

Conner Hazelrigg

Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00

Lauren Conaway

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast I’m your host Lauren Conaway founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC and I do have to tell you we are very very grateful to Full Scale as today’s episode sponsor. Full Scale is a software management team. They are an incredible partner to us but they can help you build a software team quickly and affordably help you bring your tech vision to life. Ah so so speaking of tech vision today’s guest I am. Super excited to have this individual on the show. Ah, Connor Hazel Rig is one of the more visionary ah people that I’ve ever met. Of course, I think you know by now that I love feminists. Um, you know women who are involved in. In science and technology, Kanner is one of those who is the founder and CEO of 73 innovation company. Um, she has invented the sunshine box and is just an all-around amazing entrepreneurial mind a friend of mine and I am so thrilled. Have her on the show. Connor. Thank you so much for taking the time.

01:09.75

Conner Hazelrigg

Hey Lauren and thank you for having me and I’m glad to be here and to talk to your audience.

01:15.57

Lauren Conaway

Awesome! Well, so so let’s go ahead and hop right into it I’m just I’m going to ask you that very, very general question, but you know, tell us about you and what you do.

01:24.56

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, I’d be happy to it depends on how far you want to go back, but I’ll take a ah stab at it I live here in Kansas City I’ve been involved with the sunshine box since its creation and helped kind of lead the. Design and the vision for where that was a friend of mine came back from Haiti and said everyone has cell phones, and no one has access to electricity that you know, led me down this whole kind of mind journey of how do you solve those types of problems and so. With the help of Kendal Randolph, who’s the Ceo of sunshine electronic display, I came up with the idea to invent the sunshine box, which is a solar-paneled cell phone charger as a student and I was ah a student at William Jewel college, I continued the sunshine box I continued to go to school completed in my undergraduate. Went on to get a graduate degree and have worked for a handful of startups in the Kansas City area and have just loved the experience and want to continue to be an entrepreneur.

02:28.79

Lauren Conaway

Well, that is awesome and I love that you used real life to inform something that you want to do and so so I’m going to ask you tell us about the sunshine box. Let’s go.

02:39.75

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, so so like I said it’s a solar-powered cell phone charger. It’s about the size of a small suitcase one that you would carry on with you on an airplane. It’s got 10 ports around the outside used to charge 10 cell phones or devices simultaneously. Um, and it provides a job for people who live in developing countries, ah to have ah a source of full-time income and so when you think about places like Haiti Uganda um, even some remote places in Guatemala people don’t have access to electricity readily and so by. Empowering people and I love to use the word empower because of the pun behind providing charging stations to people. Absolutely everyone calls me a nerd so just please join that club. Um.

03:19.32

Lauren Conaway

Oh my gosh, can I call you a nerd for that? Just like a little bit, I Love it I Love it.

03:30.46

Conner Hazelrigg

You know when we give people these boxes or set them up as agents of the box? They’re able to sell that electricity and provide well over a full-time income for them and their families just by selling electricity, so that kind of gives you a little bit of a background on what the sunshine box does and kind of how we use it too. You know, help people relieve that burden that exists for many people in developing countries.

03:55.58

Lauren Conaway

Well, and so so I think one of the things I remember you and me having ah a conversation once about once upon a time about the importance of the sunshine box to the people. It is designed to benefit. And I think one of the things that you know maybe people here in the Us or people in um, you know some more moneyed countries. Don’t really think about the fact that often for individuals in these countries. Um, a cell phone is their lifeline. You know often. They’re not going to have you know. Computers or laptops but they’ll have that cell phone and it’s the way that they conduct their banking and it’s the way that they stay in touch with family and it’s the way that they get news alerts if they’ve been in an area affected by weather or you know disaster and so so really I think the. 1 of the things that I just want to highlight is the fact that you know you’re providing electricity. You’re allowing people to you know charge their cell phones and charge their devices and all of that stuff. But really what you’re doing is you’re creating a conduit to the outside world and to connect and to ah you know getting stuff done.

05:04.10

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, you nailed it right on top of the head I mean it’s a scarcity issue that most people in the United States who haven’t traveled abroad haven’t been on different international trips to specific countries. We don’t understand and so.

05:05.12

Lauren Conaway

Right? count.

05:22.33

Conner Hazelrigg

Being able to provide that really helps people have the foundation that they need in that cycle of poverty for themselves if they don’t have a cell phone they most likely don’t have a secure way to access money and that that leads us to a whole nother issue about the population of the world that’s unbanked because of all of the discrimination. Um, required to you know have a bank account right? All of the different details needed in that and so it’s really been ah a great way to help impact people’s lives and see you know people in that poverty cycle for their family and it’s been a huge impact.

05:43.63

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

05:57.99

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, so so yeah, so so just to kind of bring the point home like not only are you providing jobs for the folks who become what? what do you call them the individuals who who kind of license these boxes to sell the electricity. What what? What are? what is their title agents. Yeah.

06:16.90

Conner Hazelrigg

Agents.

06:17.94

Lauren Conaway

So see you, you’re empowering ha empowering the agents you are empowering the individuals who who have you know access in the palm of their hands to everything that they need to do and all of the people that they need to connect. That’s a really, that’s a really powerful thing that you’re doing Connor and I just want to.

06:18.88

Conner Hazelrigg

Yes.

06:36.85

Lauren Conaway

Ask you? I’m going to get a little personal for a second because I just find this fascinating. You know you you said that you were inspired by a friend of yours who who traveled to another country and saw some of these challenges but I want to ask you? What do you think is in in you that you know you heard this story and you were like I want to.

06:55.18

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah I you know I think it’s one of those things that when I was a student and my undergraduate degree is in math and physics and my friend came back and told me about this problem I was so ingrained in being taught about problem solving and and understanding the.

06:55.48

Lauren Conaway

Help.

07:13.88

Conner Hazelrigg

The mechanics and the electricity behind you know, just any type of engineering problem and so it it really challenged me to think about a problem much bigger than what I was learning especially from a philosophical standpoint understanding what it means to have a value of a cell phone. Beyond just that monetary value. What’s that intrinsic value of the cell phone and I was just inspired by that that almost real world problem that we can. We can take these big issues and we can find ways to make an impact I mean I hate to use the word solution because you.

07:40.66

Lauren Conaway

Came out.

07:51.46

Conner Hazelrigg

No one solution is going to fit a big world problem. It takes you know an entire village to do something like that. But it gave me a tangible outlook on what I could do and who I could be I didn’t know what I wanted to be I was just in those subject areas because that’s what I was good at.

07:56.11

Lauren Conaway

So I’m right.

08:03.82

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

08:10.65

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, and it gave me a way to find you know, really what I wanted to do and it was to use my math and physics skills and then the skills I’ve gained since then to really help drive the sunshine box and whatever future version of the Sunshine Box. There is. To to really make an impact in the world.

08:28.25

Lauren Conaway

And well so of course I I think that’s awesome and I have always greatly admired your your heart in addition to your brain. So let’s talk you know let’s talk a little bit about the development of the box like that that was a whole process. And I want to delve into a couple of things here here deeply but first things first let’s talk about the mechanics so you hear this story you are inspired to help you’re a problem solver you’re putting sketches to paper. You’re kind of thinking through the problem thinking how you can help maybe not solve it. But certainly I guess mediate this challenge that you’re seeing. Um, what? what were your first steps into the development of the box.

09:08.40

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, so it was like you said pinned to paper sketching it out figuring out kind of what we wanted the box to do right? Ultimately, it was to charge cell phones but did we wanted to charge cell phones with the outlet that looks like the ones on your wall. Or do we want it to be with a Usb or what what does that look like and so we ultimately went with a twelve volt outlet because it it provides us with the ability to have the ul certification for safety. It’s ultimately waterproof. It’s universal when we think about applications and so.

09:29.11

Lauren Conaway

Write it.

09:47.18

Conner Hazelrigg

Just walking through some of those steps and you know at the time it was more or less like what do we have available and does this make sense and and now looking back on it. It’s like Wow like we are so fortunate to have kind of thought through some of those things to avoid issues that that we see with some of our competitors products on the market.

09:52.45

Lauren Conaway

6 right.

10:06.87

Conner Hazelrigg

In some of the decisions. They’d made you know in some of those choices.

10:08.93

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, Well so I do want to to talk a little bit about So I Love the name the sunshine box because I think that there is a There’s a really interesting and really cool synergy. Um, you know the sunshine box is about sustainable energy. Um, and and and so so I love the name of it but the name actually has a different word like a somewhat different origin doesn’t it. Yes.

10:33.51

Conner Hazelrigg

Yes, So there’s actually kind of a double meaning behind it and if you’re lucky enough to know both of them. Then that means you’ve been pretty close to the the whole development of the box. The the first part was like you said right? It’s it’s solar Powered. It’s charging from the sun. But the the main part of it is that the manufacturer is actually called Sunshine Sunshine electronic display and when I was doing testing on this box my physics advisor and a ah Co-reseer of mine kept calling it the sunshine box meaning that it had come from.

10:57.76

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

11:11.41

Conner Hazelrigg

Sunshine display and my internship there and working with them and and then it just kind of stuck like you know this makes sense. It’s intuitive. It’s simple. It’s catchy and so it’s really kind of cool having the the name of the box attribute back to.

11:12.72

Lauren Conaway

Would have if.

11:19.60

Lauren Conaway

Stay out.

11:27.27

Conner Hazelrigg

The manufacturer but then also towards what we see it doing.

11:29.53

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well so so I always loved that and I would actually I I would posit as somebody kind of on the outside looking in but I did know that double meaning and I was just like yeah I have to share that because I think it’s so cool. Ah, but the third meaning to me is you know you’re you’re bringing a little bit of sunshine and hope to people who need it.

11:37.41

Conner Hazelrigg

Um.

11:48.43

Lauren Conaway

Um, you’re making a very vital and crucial ah task you know powering up your devices staying in touch with the world. You’re you’re making it easier and you’re bringing opportunity to the agents and you’re and so so I’m going to go ahead and say that there is a third meeting in there. Um, that is.

12:01.87

Conner Hazelrigg

Are.

12:05.93

Lauren Conaway

That is me just describing meaning to what you do, but I just love I’ve always loved the name Connor like it’s always just I’m like wow that is so appropriate in so many different ways.

12:14.25

Conner Hazelrigg

I appreciate that I mean 1 word you said in that is is bit a theme every time we talk to people who have received the sunshine box regardless of the country they live in or the circumstances that they’ve received the box in in that words hope right there that as a.

12:29.83

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

12:32.70

Conner Hazelrigg

Theme that we see over and over whether it’s people finding hope in the sunshine box because they just received it after their home was destroyed in Hurricane Maria or it’s the hope that they can actually have access to energy for 1 of the first times in a reliable way that then can power lights in their church and so. So hope’s got a really big meeting you know behind what we’re able to do and the impact we’ve been able to create.

12:55.88

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well so so I just I think it’s it’s so appropriate. Um, and and 1 of the other things that you do that I want to talk about now I just think it is so interesting and I think that you did it I would imagine I would posit that you did it intuitively. Um, is is part of who you are but um, the next piece that we’re going to talk about is something that our listeners at home like not all of our listeners at home are going to get involved in sustainable energy. Not all of them are going to serve you know, um, less developed countries or or anything like that. But all of our not all most of our listeners. Are going to have to listen to their customers and so I want to talk to you a little bit about that because I think that over the course of the development of the box. One of the things that you did so so well you know you you came to the table with your thoughts and ideas and you know you were talking to. Ah, you know your mentors and and you know trying to figure out how to solve this problem but then one of the things that I know for a fact you did is you reached out to the people that you were serving and you were like hey give us some feedback on how this box is going to work best for you. And so so I want to talk to you and I want to hear about your your process for doing that you know making sure that you were creating touch points and listening points with with your customers and your constituents. The people who would benefit from the sunshine box.

14:20.70

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, no, that’s that’s been a huge part of of what we want to do is make sure that you know the only way the box stays relevant is that it continues to serve the purpose that it was originally designed for and it also does does so in a way that doesn’t alter the behavior or. Um, you know those different characteristics of products that people have hard times or barriers overcoming and so we reached out to the people directly and started to ask them. You know what does this need to incorporate um to best suit you and we have received you know some some scrutiny over the fact that you know the product we sell today is is. So barely similar to the one that we first sold back in you know, twenty fifteen but products in developing countries don’t change the same speed that they do here in the United States you know we’re serving a clientele of people that are still operating on 2 g cell phone networks.

15:17.76

Lauren Conaway

Right.

15:19.85

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, and so really making sure that when they move to the next level of cell phone service or they move to the next level of cell phones right? when they have smartphones and there is a large adoption of those so I won’t I won’t leave that out but that we’re serving them in the the way they need to access our product the most. Effective way and 1 of the things we did learn recently and when I say recently it’s it’s over the last few years because this problem hasn’t changed is the secure money transfer right? So our agents that are selling this electricity. Are typically taking their payments in cash and so one of the things that we we found through interviews is that the people were becoming targets for robbery and so we’ve sat down with a team of people and we’ve been constantly iterating on the design about how do we enable the. The sunshine box to take mobile payments so that our agents can have those transactions done securely but then also how can we elevate the transparency of the box so that when organizations are placing these boxes. They can see the the. Energy output of the box. The total transactions through the box so that we can articulate the economic development of the box. The individuals I guess increase in wages per box.

16:40.55

Lauren Conaway

Yes, yeah.

16:42.50

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, so that we can really show that high level of transparency and that was just one of the things that we’ve learned from from our our true constituents on how we can improve the product to best suit their needs.

16:53.00

Lauren Conaway

Well so so I think that that is absolutely incredible and I and I want to ask you this you know as you’re dealing with these these people and you know asking opinions and making sure that you’re introducing features and rolling out improvements that that better serve. Do you find that. People if people feel a sense of agency and empowerment around the product that you’re creating like do you think that that kind of helps get the buy-in of the communities that you’re you’re trying to to serve.

17:18.57

Conner Hazelrigg

Absolutely I mean each each people that we talk to in different countries. They they have different suggestions but they’re all ultimately talking about some of the same things whether it’s regarding security or access. But. But ultimately what we want is for them to feel like it’s their product right? that they helped build it that they helped mold it into being what it is today because that’s only going to help with the adoption of it. The trust aspect of working internationally is is always a big barrier and so by incorporating the people. At the very bottom the people who are experiencing these problems every day that are experiencing these barriers by incorporating them into the product only helps us in in our outreach in our attraction and also in the whole well-being of our product.

18:06.73

Lauren Conaway

Sure? Well and and you’ve mentioned that to me before you know a big part of what you’ve had to do is you have looked to expand globally and bring the sunshine box to more more regions and territories and areas is is building that trust. Um, you know is is someone who is not necessarily always on the ground or a company that is not always on the ground you have had to do a lot of work to again, engage those folks that you know have insight into the product you you know finding those agents who can then serve as. Essentially salespeople um in in some ways as you know Sunshine box I Guess advocates. Um, but yeah, like talk to us a little bit about that process as well like building and in some of the other things that you’ve done to build that trust within communities who might not automatically embrace.

19:03.46

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, absolutely I mean the trust is is such a big thing and we’re working on building those those relationships both domestically and internationally I mean one of the things we don’t realize is the money that is sent to emerging kind of emerging and developing countries from. Ah.

19:03.90

Lauren Conaway

The Sunshine box.

19:22.24

Conner Hazelrigg

More developed countries isn’t as much as we would think it is compared to the remittance that is sent back from family members. So if there’s a family member in Houston from haiti the money that they’re sending back to their family in haiti if you’d look at that globally. That’s called remittance and that remittance is higher than what the world produces in terms of aid to these countries and so really making sure that we have touch points with those family members here in the country but then also those communities and villages internationally to you know to show that we’re real people to show that we’re here to help.

19:55.25

Lauren Conaway

Right.

19:57.96

Conner Hazelrigg

You know so that so that they know that you know we want to do what we can.

20:00.77

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, and ah and I love that you you are so intentional and have found so many different ways to do that. So I so I got to say you know speaking of trust you know I think that as entrepreneurs and as people who. Just you know we’re trying to build businesses finding people who can help us that we can trust is really really crucial and I do just want to mention you know today’s episode of startup puzzle is sponsored by full scale. They can help you build a software team quickly and affordably but I will tell you full scale has their customers. Trust. Like I I say this as not as Lauren Conaway start a hustle co-host I say it as a person who actually talks to startup or to full scale clients and I just know so many individuals who have availed themselves of full scale services and they just know that. You know if we engage full scale. They’re going to help us. They’re going to you know do so in a way that that helps us increase our bottom line and do our jobs better and so so just want to point you to to full scale. You know, thanks for for sponsoring but really thanks for being a trusted partner for so many of our entrepreneurs the entrepreneurs who listen to the show. We. We just love it so we are here with Connor Hazel Rick she is founder of the 1773 innovation company and we are talking about the sunshine box. Um I want to I want to take a little bit of a different. Well we’re gonna we’re gonna take a different tack here in a second. But first things first um, just real tactically Connor remind us how where where can you find the sun box today like where do you have boxes deployed what areas.

21:39.74

Conner Hazelrigg

Yes, so we have a hundred and I think 101012 I have to go back and look at the spreadsheet boxes around the world were in 18 different countries and you know if if you’re lucky enough to be at my house. There’s a few here too.

21:52.26

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, they are pretty cool looking I have had the pleasure of of seeing 1 or 2 over the years and I just I look at it because it because the thing. Like I mean it’s a cool looking box but it’s not huge. Um it definitely is is highly portable and you just think about you know what is it? Great things come can come in small packages. But.

22:16.62

Conner Hazelrigg

Yes, yeah, no I’ve I’ve traveled around the country with it doing different talks and I’ve actually done a few speaking engagements at the University Of San Diego and I honestly just put it inside a suitcase with some towels around it to protect it and it travels super easy like that or we can put it in.

22:29.86

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

22:35.56

Conner Hazelrigg

Regular cardboard boxes with foam and send it all around the world.

22:36.90

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well that is awesome. All right? So so I just wanted to to ask that because I think it’s really important to see how your reach has grown but but here’s the question that I really really want to ask you so. 1 of the things that you have done well and I think one of the things that is on your heart and mind a lot of a lot of the time um is is access to opportunity and ah you know access to resources and so you know the the episode title that we’re working here is bridging the gaps and I want to. Talk to you a little bit about that. You know, let’s let’s take the ten Thousand foot view for our listeners at home. You know, let’s say that they are inspired to to solve a problem that might serve. It might serve individuals who are experiencing you know lack of resources those barriers that that you were talking about earlier. What are some things that you have done or what are some things that you would advise as a general matter of course like these are the things that you can do tomorrow to make that difference.

23:38.81

Conner Hazelrigg

Well I mean I think this goes back to what we were talking about before the break is is that relationship building I mean it’s It’s so hard to try to tackle a problem. When you don’t understand that problem and even if you think you understand it like check your check your biases check your assumptions and then go talk to people who do experience it and be openminded to listening um because you know one of the things that you’ll find is that the people on the ground or the people. In my case or on the ground but in any problem you’re trying to solve the people who have the best ideas and solutions are the ones who’ve had to experience and live through and in some ways be flexible to that problem and so really being open and listening to what they have to say. Um, is is the fastest way to make an impact and then if you’ve got access to capital or people or resources in a way like helping make those connections I Think that’s the the fastest way to do it as opposed to constantly retrain to invent the wheel or you know think that your idea is the best and taking it to the people. Without any type of introduction.

24:52.23

Lauren Conaway

Right? Yeah, no I I Absolutely adore that and and and I’m going to ask you and I don’t know you’ve probably been asked this question before but how has has that relationship building helped you in your life. Because I know you’re great at it.

25:10.90

Conner Hazelrigg

Well I appreciate that comment you know, starting the sunshine box from a business standpoint really has pushed me to understand the value of relationships and embrace those that I have. You know, seeing fruitful impact from and collaboration from I haven’t always been comfortable speaking in front of audiences or crowds or even on podcasts and so building that relationship has really pushed me to be a better just kind of. Um, authentic speaker and so you know being able to express what’s on my mind. Ask The questions has really pushed me to be a better founder. It’s really allowed me to to create opportunities for not just myself but the sunshine box that. Ah.

25:53.76

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah.

26:02.58

Conner Hazelrigg

Little old me as a physics major probably wouldn’t have been able to do and so just you know when I find good people I stick with them.

26:04.53

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah I Love that and and I mean I got I have to tell you you know you and I’ve known each other for a while and watching I mean by the time I met you, you were already a formidable. Person within the the startup scene. Um, but just watching you grow and evolve has really been.. It’s been quite a gift actually um, you know, figuring out you have like different purposes and you have different things that you do, but all of it comes back to. This huge heart that you have and this this incredible mind and you have found a way to very um I Guess integrate the 2 very well and so so it’s been really, really fun to watch So so what is the future of the Sunshine box. Um, you know I know that. You’re you’re a you’re you’re a data person I feel like like whenever we talk you always kind of have facts and figures to back you up and so I’m really curious to hear what your projections are for for the future.

27:09.46

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah I mean the the biggest thing that we’ve got in the in the pipe or you know coming down the road is the integration of this digital secure payment system in the box and it has been probably the hardest problem I’ve ever had to solve. And I love that because then I’m constantly like you said researching and trying to find data trying to figure out how to make things work and so so the release of that will be a huge huge point for us. So that’s kind of what the vision of the sunshine box is but I can’t you know I can’t be the one to speak to that. You know it’s it’s going to depend on the the geopolitics of the world and what the people need one of the biggest frustrations over the past few years has been the lack of access to these countries because of covid you know I haven’t traveled in over two years now almost 3 and so. All of the communication has been very sparse. It’s been very disconnected with with people on the ground in these other countries and even over the last two years just the just the access to haiti alone with the death of the president the overthrowing of the government. The. Controlled by these gangs. You know the future of hades unknown and so with the sunshine box being truly impacted by what’s going on in Haiti because it was one of our first countries and we have the most contacts there. You know all of it’s unknown.

28:29.14

Lauren Conaway

Marry up.

28:42.50

Conner Hazelrigg

They might come back and say that a different size system or a different operating system if you will the way the box works would fit better and so so we will change based on what the need is long story short.

28:54.68

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, so so that begs an interesting and interesting question. Um, and I’m going to kind of circle back to something that we talked about but I just think that it’s a really really important point particularly for the folks listening at home. So so Connor you know this but 1 of the things that I like to do on the show is. You know, find ways that our our entrepreneurs who are listening can actually enact some of the things that we’re talking about in their own lives and so I think one of the ah one of the things that I love about the sunshine box is is not just that you’re you know. You are responsive to your audience and to the people who need the product but just the fact that you’re so agile. Um you know I know that I know of a lot of founders who are so firm and well this is what our product needs to be um and they’re not necessarily listening to customer feedback as well as they should be and so. And in changing and tweaking and disrupting and innovating and all of those things that we talk about so I want to ask you? What are your tips for our listeners at home. how do you stay um not just receptive but how do you stay agile how do you um stay I guess flexible and and pliable um to to new ideas when it comes to this project that you’re so passionate about yeah.

30:11.46

Conner Hazelrigg

Well I think it really starts with I mean almost going back to what the title of this podcast is right bridging The gaps. So so understanding the gaps like that’s the only reason anything’s ever been innovated on is when someone has found a gap. Whether that’s in a consumer market in a software Solution. You name it. There’s been a gap and so something has been developed to help bridge that gap and you see products fail sometimes because they’ve overstepped and they’ve they’ve moved beyond the gap and they’re trying to do something else and so. For me, It’s always just going back to Well, what’s the Problem. We’re actually trying to solve and and sometimes you realize it’s the same problem but you found a different solution or you found a more efficient way to look at it or new technology has been invented in the background that you can leverage. To create more efficiencies I Just I think somewhere in me has been wired to almost operate in that lean mentality and it’s always kept me open minded when looking at it at the gaps and helping find solutions for it.

31:17.18

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well well I love that of course and and I think you knew that I’m a huge fan of you and I mean I don’t think it’s any secret to our listeners at home because you know I I sing the praises of Connor Hazel Rig all day long like I would do it all day long. It’s very easy to do. Um, but so so now I’m going to get a little personal connor because I just I love kind of like picking it the you know the the outer core of Connor Hazel Organ getting to the crux of the matter and so I want to ask? What’s next for you.

31:47.86

Conner Hazelrigg

Ah, that is good question. Um I I think the journey presents itself to me I’ve never been married to having to do 1 thing by a certain time or to find a certain thing. Um, you know I’m I’m always open to new opportunities and you know that opportunity might be um, internationally it might be here. It might be doing what I’m doing right now. Um, you know my whole goal is is to make sure that what I’m doing makes an impact and and make sure that I’m happy. Right? And and that both of those things can happen simultaneously.

32:29.36

Lauren Conaway

Yeah,, that’s amazing. Um, So so one of the things that I do that we that I’ve heard multiple times from you like throughout the course of this episode and and over the course of years. Ah, we talk about Mentorship. And and I know with 100% certainty that you have availed yourself of mentors and that’s something that you take pretty seriously so talk to us a little bit about that. Yeah.

32:58.34

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah I mean honestly Lauren we don’t have enough time for me to list all the people that I would consider mentors whether that’s short-term or long-term you know every every other startup I’ve worked for I’ve had a handful of mentors that I’ve learned.

33:04.15

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

33:15.45

Conner Hazelrigg

About startup I’ve learned things about management I’ve learned things about development. Um, but 1 person I know for for a fact that I absolutely have to mention because he’s been so instrumental in in my life is Kendall Randolph the the Ceo of of sunshine electronic display.

33:32.61

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

33:34.64

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, because you know when you think about it I was I don’t I don’t know probably 20 years old when I went to him and it proposed this crazy idea about building a box that would charge cell phones and developing countries but I hadn’t ever been to any of these countries and you know he he didn’t even blink an eye. He didn’t question. It. He looked at me and said done like let’s do that You know I’ll help you know with the construction like you can go out into the the manufacturing warehouse and you know use the tools and pieces that you have and like let’s build this. Um.

34:08.46

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

34:11.36

Conner Hazelrigg

And and just that level of support from the get go with no questions asked like if he had have said no who knows where I’d be today right? There wouldn’t be a sunshine box I can tell you that because at that point it was just crazy idea and I didn’t even turn it into really a business opportunity until a few.

34:17.67

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

34:29.46

Conner Hazelrigg

Few years later after I’d implemented it into the first country and so and having his leadership his perspective as a successful business owner has been truly impactful on my life.

34:40.87

Lauren Conaway

I love that well and his his interest in you and his um I guess commitment and desire to help you in this project that you were working on and saying yes like that benefit has increased exponentially. Like he helps you you help these individuals they help their communities and it’s become this this global proposition that all kind of started with Connor and Kendall you know, working together to achieve a vision and I just I think that that’s so beautiful. You know? So so to the folks listening at home if you have the opportunity to mentor if you have the opportunity to be a mentee. We talk about it a lot on the show here. But you know do it. You never know the the rewards that you will be able to reap as a result of these just these touch points and these connections.

35:34.28

Conner Hazelrigg

Absolutely it. You couldn’t have said it any better I mean I try to tell Kendall. Thank you as much as possible but I’ll never be able to communicate you know what? he’s given me and I look forward to the time that I can do that for others.

35:35.42

Lauren Conaway

Right? Got her.

35:47.53

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well I think that you do do that for others now I mean you’re active here in the Kansas City Startup Community and for for sure you act as an example I will tell you? Um, so so one of the things that I find just wonderful and amazing about you is the fact that you know. As innovate her I am always interested in in following women in stem and so um, but 1 of the things that that I don’t see very often is women inventors. Um, you know definitely see people who like we’re starting to see more developers. We’re starting to see more engineers. We’re starting to see you know more folks in like. Construction and things like that. But you know you’re you’re an inventor and and I’m really curious as to what that experience has been like but I will tell you that I I point to you like when I have you know a school a school teacher come to me and say hey. You know I’m looking for some examples for my kids. You know the students like the the girl students in my in my stem classes. Um, what are some people where can I point them to to see some inspiration like Connor Hazelrig is my inventor with a bullet you and Jackie like you you are my my inventors you know Jackie yeah and that sorry that is Jackie Mccarthy of toolhouse labs. But yeah, like you’re an example and so so I feel like that inspiration is ah is really key and thank you for that. Thank you for letting me do that.

37:02.30

Conner Hazelrigg

Um.

37:13.98

Conner Hazelrigg

Absolutely I mean you know to to your question about what’s it like to be an inventor it sometimes you know it makes me feel like I can invent anything and then I get quickly back to reality and realize that I can’t but it’s It’s always a fun you know ability to think well.

37:26.75

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

37:32.81

Conner Hazelrigg

You know once you’ve invented something or designed something or built something from the ground up like you get a different perspective and it it constantly reinforms what you’re doing on the next thing and so I think you know for me, it’s a fun constant. You know, almost hamster wheel of problem solving.

37:48.69

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well and I think that it’s that that’s the entrepreneurial piece right? there like I feel like there’s so many of us we come to entrepreneurship we we have different tactics. We have different ways that we do things we have different areas of focus but every single entrepreneur that I know is at Heart. Ah, problem Solver they are someone who who saw a challenge that either they themselves or the community around them was experiencing and they decided to solve it and so so I love that as an inventor I almost feel like it’s one of the more pure. Problem solving opportunities because you are literally. Ah you know addressing, you know, very tactical problems and challenges through through mechanics and through engineering and through like all of these things but but really your story connor. Is so so like in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of crossover between the entrepreneur a lot of the entrepreneurs who are listening now who might not be inventors because we’re all problem solvers and that’s really inspirational too.

38:51.69

Conner Hazelrigg

Yeah, yeah, no I appreciate that? Yeah I I think that that’s probably 1 of the things that has driven me to entrepreneurship is the constant problem solving and I I look up to a handful of inventors and entrepreneurs as as kind of. You know inspiration for me.

39:11.92

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well and I love that and I think that one of your gifts that I’ve noticed over time and I and I hope you’re you’re not getting sick of me, you know, just lavishing praise all over you but I don’t think you get enough of it. Ah, most of the people on our show I don’t think most entrepreneurs get enough praise and so I’m just like hey I’m gonna I’m gonna be your cheerleader for the hour that we are spending together. Um, but I think one of the things that you you do just remarkably well is is you turn your your love and your heart outward. But then you’re also very receptive to to what people are giving back and it it really it comes down to that relationship building piece that we’ve talked about so thank you for that? Yeah well and and I do have to say Conor. Um, you know we’re coming up on the end of our time together and I would’ve been really.

39:56.70

Conner Hazelrigg

And thank you.

40:06.80

Lauren Conaway

Ju I’ve been trying to think about my human question to you because there are so many things that I want to ask you? but so here here in my my little recording area in my office I have a sign that says undercover superhero and so I’m going to ask you if you could be a superhero.

40:07.97

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, yeah.

40:24.58

Lauren Conaway

What kind of superhero would you want to be.

40:25.76

Conner Hazelrigg

Oh Wow and when you say kind are you talking about like the power. Okay.

40:32.56

Lauren Conaway

I’m gonna I’m gonna leave that to you. You cannot you could either say I want to be Batman or you could say I want to have laser vision I think I’m going to leave it open to interpretation.

40:38.16

Conner Hazelrigg

Okay, yeah, okay well I think I don’t know if there’s this particular superhero I am not that up to date all my superheroes but I would really like the the power to fly like I travel all the time.

40:53.30

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah.

40:56.54

Conner Hazelrigg

Um, I’d like to get places a lot faster and have to avoid all public transportation areas. That’s right? yeah.

41:00.10

Lauren Conaway

Okay, well and it would get you to to places like haiti faster and more easily for sure. so so I can see I can see that I love it. Where’s the first place you would fly to what all right? That is not what I expect to do why.

41:13.60

Conner Hazelrigg

Probably Alaska um, well so there’s something on my bucket list and my favorite animal of all times is a moose and I’ve never seen 1 in person and like I really really want to see one bad and i.

41:18.79

Lauren Conaway

And I Alaska is beautiful. It’s just not what I expected you to say.

41:32.35

Conner Hazelrigg

I don’t mean bucket list like I’m going to be gone anytime soon. But like it’s just something I really want to see in person is my favorite so fly to Alaska to see it moves.

41:33.94

Lauren Conaway

Sure see.

41:39.79

Lauren Conaway

Okay I love that and I like I feel like we need to put that we need to manifest that into action that like over the course of the next couple years like Connor’s goingnna go get to Alaska and is gonna get to see a moose and I want you to touch one I want you to figure out how to touch one. How about that I don’t know why.

41:55.67

Conner Hazelrigg

Ah I will I will.

41:59.14

Lauren Conaway

I Like to talk I like to touch wildlife in animals I’m like can I pet it they were like no, it’s a wild animal and I’m like but can I though it’s real sad and.

42:05.17

Conner Hazelrigg

I mean mooses are pretty big but I’ll I’ll try my best and I’ll send you a picture if I can.

42:09.45

Lauren Conaway

Okay, I’m gonna hold you to that for sure. so so Connor I just have to say? Thank you so much for taking the time to to join us in the show talk about the sunshine box talk about you. This has been so great i.

42:22.55

Conner Hazelrigg

Deb This has been fantastic and and thank you for having me.

42:25.61

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, absolutely um, folks I got to tell you one of the people that we have to thank. We just thanked Connor because she’s just a fucking rock star but we also have to thank full scale for being this episode sponsor once again, today’s episode of startup puzzletle was sponsored by full scale. They can help you build a software team quickly and affordably they do their work so well. Um, also want to point you keep an eye out for startup hustle on on social media. We do have a Facebook startup hustle chat group. And we have lots of conversations around around entrepreneurship. We just kind of continue the conversations that we have here on the show. So go on if you want to go on to Facebook search for startup hustle chat should pop right up, you can also find us on Instagram and startup hustle and Linkedin and pretty much. All the social media channels because we really like social media and we would love to have you join the conversation with us friends. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules week after week to listen to us. It is an honor and it is a pleasure. Don’t hesitate to reach out and keep on listening. We will catch you on the flip side.

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