That’s the chore that most of us perform year after year. Those Christmas lights won’t hang themselves up on your gutters or the roofline. I know in my own situation my physical condition combined with achrophobia (fear of heights) make it a serious chore for me to put even minimal lights up and then take them down again. Over the years I came very close many times to tumbling off of a ladder more than twenty feet in the air.
We’ve all seen Chevy Chase falling off the roof in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Every year you hear stories of people breaking legs, arms, collar bones, etc. or simply suffering bruises, cuts and abrasions which were the result of falling while putting up or taking down Christmas lights.
Over all of my years in broadcasting I have read warnings on the air from the fire department that you should never leave those strings of Christmas lights up all year long due to the extremes of temperatures and drying in the summer. The wiring can be damaged enough to short out and cause a fire by being exposed to the excessive heat followed by getting wet from rain and then subjected to the cold temperatures of our Oregon winters. I do see homes in the Eugene-Springfield area with the lights still on the roof under the blazing hot summer sun and some people even have the lights turned on at night 365 days a year.
Why doesn’t somebody develop holiday lights that are safe to leave up all year long? You know like the old saying “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Well you won’t have to wait much longer, because two entrepreneurs have done it. Yes they have developed outdoor Christmas lights that can permanently attach to your house without having to be taken down and put back up each year. I have called them Christmas lights, but because of their unique design they can be used for any holiday or celebration.
The revolution in decorative lighting is called “Everlights” and is the brainchild of two Oregonians Ross Harke and Darren Taylor. This really is a story of living the “American Dream.” We have to turn the clock back to when Ross and Daren first got together. It sounds like a made-up story, but they have been best friends since Kindergarten and grew up living next door to each other. I had a long telephone interview with Ross and he explained that they were the “best man” at each other’s weddings too. Exactly how the idea came to them is a story in itself. Daren apparently hadn’t taken down the Christmas lights from his house yet when they were watching SuperBowl at his house two years ago. Ross berated him for leaving them up so long. That’s when Darren said “What if we could keep them up all the time?” That’s when they started kicking around the idea of developing these special lights themselves. Quite a feat for two guys only hovering around the 30-year-old mark. They both have a passion for building. Ross says he is more into the business-side as his profession is in Revenue Cycle Consultation business in Oregon while Daren is more into the product-side of their venture since his background is in the construction business, but now he is working full-time for their “Everlights” business in Utah.
They tossed around the idea and decided that the system had to be waterproof and the lights had to be special and not set up serially like the old style lights that when one bulb dies the whole string goes out. They also wanted more colors than what standard bulbs can provide so they decided on LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) because each bulb could change through the whole spectrum of colors.
These up-and-coming business partners contacted a company in Shen-Zen, China to make the prototype for them and with the aid of a Vancouver engineering firm helped solve any design problems. They received their first delivery of the prototype in October of this year and have installed it on a few homes of their in-laws and friends in Oregon and a few in Utah. The lights have held up well under the various weather conditions both here and in Utah. Now what they needed was the financial backing to develop the wi-fi controller that allows the user to program the colors and designs through their own smart phone.
In order to facilitate that effort they made a video promoting their product and put it on “Kickstarter.” If you have never heard of Kickstarter here is a quick explanation. According to their website kickstarter.com “Our mission is to help bring creative projects to life.” They go on to say “Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects – big and small – have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community.”
Now that you know what Kickstarter is it is time to see the video that Ross and Darren produced asking for backing for the production of “Everlights.”
As you saw in the video, the installation is quite simple. At this time the wiring has to be crimped and then heat-shrinked, but the production models should have waterproof snap-on connectors which will make the do-it-yourself installation process much easier and quicker.
Since the lights are LEDs and not colored bulbs they are virtually invisible to the naked eye when the lights are turned off. That means no unsightly bulbs of various colors hanging limply off your roof during the day. I’m sure you have a thought in the back of your mind about now just like I did after I gathered all of the information about “Everlights” and that is: How much does it cost? That will depend on the size of the building you want to decorate and just how elaborate of a design you want to create. Ross explained that for a bungalow-sized home of about 1,000 square feet they estimate the cost would be from $500-$600. The 2,000 square foot home or larger could range to $1,000 or more again depending on how it is set up. That does sound expensive, but when you take into account the LED bulbs last for 50,000 hours Ross estimates they should last for some 30 years. If a bulb does need to be replaced it would be just one not an entire set like with traditional lights. You can spend an average of $60 per year to replace your old light sets when they fail. I added that up and for a period of 30 years that would amount to $1,800. So, for the one-time outlay of money your lights could last the same length of time that it takes you to pay off your mortgage. I still go back to what I said at the beginning of this article about not having to put the lights up and take them down in our typical Winter weather every year. To many of us that would be worth its weight in gold.
It would seem that all that is left is to take delivery of the lights when production begins and then market them. No, that is not the end of this story of an invention and the inventors. Ross explained to me that he and Darren auditioned for the television show “Shark Tank” which is a program that gives start-up businesses a chance to pitch their business plan hoping to get financial backing. According to the show “Budding entrepreneurs get the chance to bring their dreams to fruition in this reality show from executive producer Mark Burnett. They present their ideas to the sharks in the tank – five titans of industry who made their own dreams a reality and turned their ideas into lucrative empires.” They didn’t make the cut for the current season, but recently were told they are finalists in the selection for the next “Shark Tank” season. I’ll follow their progress with production and the “Shark Tank” program, if they make the final cut, and give you an update in a future article.
To me the lesson in all of this is to follow your dream. If you come up with a product or service idea Ross and Darren are your examples to show you the way to follow through on your idea. It could change your life as it has theirs.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].