Associate Professor’s patent demonstrates entrepreneurial spirit

August 31, 2017
E Z Carry Cone

An invention conceived as a convenience has become a real-world example of entrepreneurism to share with Royal Roads students.

School of Business Associate Prof. Geoff Archer is the first faculty member at Royal Roads to have a patent granted. He thought up his invention, the E Z Carry Cone, while carrying dirty traffic cones as an engineering intern.

“Like a lot of entrepreneurial endeavours, it was inspired by experiencing a problem. I didn’t want to go back to my office job covered in dirt,” says Archer with a laugh.

The E Z Carry Cone is a traffic cone with handles molded into the sides to make it easier to carry a stack with one hand. Archer is researching how the product will increase safety and efficiency by decreasing the amount of time a worker needs to be on the road placing cones.

He wrote his own patent application and submitted it internationally and has secured patents in the European Union and Hong Kong. He is still awaiting a response in Canada, the United States, Japan, South Korea and India.

“About five years ago I thought, ‘I tell people how to innovate, I teach them how to self-actualize and with all the work of getting my PhD in Entrepreneurship, I feel like I’ve been out of the game too long. I’ll either make a great untold fortune or at minimum I will learn how to do this so I can better explain it to my students,’” he says.

Archer says he has had many ideas and has experienced many failures as a serial entrepreneur.

“I’ve done this plenty of times where it’s been a total bomb and those are the stories my students probably love the most,” he says. “It’s making the learning much more vivid. This is one example that appears to be working, but nevertheless, I’m always trying to derive lessons and value for students.”

Archer says there are students each year who pursue invention-based entrepreneurship for their undergraduate capstone or venture challenge projects in the university’s Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management (BCom) program.

“When most people experience something frustrating or they think of some way something could be improved…it’s just a fleeting thought,” says Archer. “They go about the rest of their lives without stopping everything to go ahead and invest their life savings and years of their career into trying to solve that one problem unless they have that entrepreneurial spirit which is driving them to pursue value creation.”

Archer says his BCom students are inspired to create value in a variety of settings and contexts. Many students stay employed with their current organizations to improve a particular process or practice.

“These are organizations that one doesn’t normally tag in their own mind as innovative, entrepreneurial, radical or game-changing, but our students are the people who are making changes within,” says Archer.

Unlike most post-secondary institutions, Royal Roads has a creator-owned intellectual property policy which allowed Archer to learn by working through the patent process himself.

“There’s something so neat about Royal Roads being different so deliberately,” says Archer. “If you’re a faculty member or a student and you’re going to invent something and you’re choosing between places to do that, this is the place where if you invent something, you own it all! And thankfully I’m here trying it myself so I can share with you what to do and what not to do.”