Inventor: Edward Douglas Miller
Invention: Remarkable (pencil)
Inventor’s location: UK
Edward Douglas Miller, the inventor of Remarkable (a recyclable pencil), is an environmentalist who was brought up in a rural village near Edinburgh. He says he used to collect insects and butterflies when he was a kid.
This inventor learnt first-hand about environmental issues when he went to Kenya for a year, working on a game ranch. After coming back (he had completed his A levels before going to Kenya), he went to the Royal Agricultural College, where he studied farming and the economy. However, he found that working on a farm was not something he wanted to do.
So, the future inventor went and worked in the city for a year or so, and then studied for some management courses. The he returned with his passion for environment. It is when he worked at Savewood, a recycling company, that his mind began conceiving the invention.
Douglas Miller started working on turning a plastic cup into a pencil, formalizing the product under the company name Remarkable in 1996. He then spent the next two years experimenting with the production process and improving his invention, all the while paying his own rent and bills by doing odd jobs. The inventor had to work for 16 hour days during this period.
For supplying the plastic cups needed for producing his invention, he chose a company called Save A Cup, which had a nationwide campaign to get offices to collect their polystyrene cups.
Still, the company Remarkable made a loss of 15,000 pounds in its first year. However, the change of government brought luck to this inventor. The Design Council, after the Labor Party came to power, began an initiative to identify 2000 pioneering companies that would lead innovation in the next millennium. Remarkable was selected, dramatically increasing the company’s sales. His invention was made the International Invention of the Year – this helped him a lot.
Now, the inventor’s company has a turnover of 3.5 million pounds.
His secret of success in his words: “belief, focus and commitment and an overpowering sense that the planet is unsustainable unless we make significant changes.”
His advice to future inventors: “If you are in business, you are in business. So keep an eye on that side of things. Most importantly, believe in yourself and believe in your company”.