The typical American 21-year-old spends the majority of their time in classes, doing homework, going to parties, and possibly working a part-time (or perhaps full-time!) job. Many college-aged students struggle to juggle (ha, that rhymed!) all of the demands that their coursework, extracurriculars, and social life present.
The majority of young adults, of course, have not started two successful businesses before graduating college. Especially ones in the thick of intensive programs like the College of Engineering at OSU.
Kyle Vandeveer has.
I first “met” (if you can call online introductions an actual “meeting”) Kyle when I posted a Boomerang of a gift Matt had received for Christmas. It was this incredible “put-it-together-yourself”, 3-dimensional cube maze/puzzle called Intrism. (I feel like maybe you should just look at it. Would you just look at it?!)
I tagged the Instagram account for the company (@instrism1) in my IG story, and shortly after, I got a message thanking me for the shout-out. From there, I asked if I could interview him since I was so intrigued by his story.
Kyle Vandeveer is a 20-year old engineering student and entrepreneur extraordinaire from Dublin. He is currently in his third year studying mechanical engineering at OSU.
All throughout his childhood, Kyle’s parents would give him puzzles or logic games (you know the type… the ones where you have to figure out how to get the two rings separated. I always found these impossible and infuriating) Kyle would always solve these quickly and be ready for the next challenge.
So finally, in eighth grade, he decided to create his own puzzle.
The original prototype was made from heavy cardstock paper, and he actually still has it to this day! Over the course of the past several years, Kyle worked to perfect his design, making it sturdier and more challenging. Upgrading to a cardboard construction was the next step of many in Kyle’s development and improvement of his puzzle.
One of his sources of inspiration was a similar 3-D puzzle that he had read about in an article in Make magazine. The article featured inventor Michael McGinnis, who designed the Perplexus, which is a spherical brain-teaser puzzle. Kyle was impressed with the way that McGinnis was able to transform an idea into a product.
Kyle was actually able to contact McGinnis and they corresponded about McGinnis’s inspiration for creating the puzzle as well as his work process. McGinnis encouraged Kyle to continue the design process and to build on what he had already begun to devise.
He used skills learned in his high school engineering class, specifically computer-aided design (CAD), to create a digital model of his puzzle. As the years passed, Kyle continued to add and modify the puzzle to make it more complex and difficult.
It wasn’t until the first semester of Kyle’s sophomore year in college that he decided to transform his hard work and intricately designed puzzle into a product that he could market and sell. He told me that it just hit him one day, and from there, he hasn’t looked back.
He decided, instead of creating a puzzle that people would play with and solve a few times, then maybe forget, to sell the puzzle as a kit that consumers could assemble themselves. Which personally, I think is brilliant. Matt was so excited to put it together…he would go straight up to our office after getting home (for like 3 nights straight) so that he could work on it.
Kyle certainly knows his demographic is the type of person that will truly enjoy the construction as much as the actual solving of the puzzle.
Kyle is incredibly analytical, as most engineers are, and has used this deeply ingrained discipline and methodology to truly examine how he would create a product that would be aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable, and could be manufactured with ease and quality.
Using materials such as birch wood from a Dublin lumberyard, acrylic from a Columbus manufacturer, and a small marble from West Virginia, instruction manuals printed in Columbus, Kyle has fashioned a truly local (and frankly, beautiful) product. Which, of course, is something that we can all get behind.
I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I am with both the product and the mind behind Intrism. I mentioned at the beginning of this article that Kyle has TWO successful businesses in his repertoire. The other is a phone screen repair business, Central Ohio iDoctor (which happens to have a 5-star rating on Google AND Yelp) he’s been running since high school. He continues to run this business and manages several employees.
He also manages to gain recognition and honors from his professors and peers. We can expect to see more great things come from Kyle Vandeveer, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the work he’s yet to accomplish.
What I have loved about writing this blog has been the opportunity to learn what incredible people are behind the Columbus businesses that I love. It’s also an honor to be able to share their stories to my readers, who wouldn’t necessarily hear them otherwise.
If you are interested in purchasing an Intrism puzzle, go here. I do have a special discount code that Kyle has graciously offered to any of my readers. Just enter “LOCALISTA” in the Promotional Code box at checkout, and you’ll receive 15% off your purchase.