The Mother of Invention

The Mother of Invention


Caption: Gwen Campbell (Operations Manager) and
Rich Brancaccio (FokusLabs Founder)

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As a school psychologist specializing in Autism and ADHD, Rich Brancaccio was no stranger to challenges. Each week he and his colleagues would meet to discuss ways to help their students stay focused in class. “Many students needed a lot of personal attention to stay on task,” says Rich. “I couldn’t stand not having a solution, so I decided to find one.”

Rich’s solution was simple – create a small device that would vibrate periodically to remind students to refocus on their work. Unfortunately, Rich had no idea how to make that device. “Originally, I asked someone who understands coding and circuitry to do it for me,” he says, “but it was too expensive. Finally, I decided to teach myself.” Several frustrating months later, Rich had created a printed circuit board and algorithm to control when and how long his device would vibrate. “That was the start of RE-vibe,” he says proudly. “But even though I had a working proof of concept, I still needed help to turn it into a product that could be manufactured and sold at an affordable price. That was my next big challenge!”


Caption: Early attempts, Rich determined and committed
tries his own hands at coding and designing his own devices.

Fortunately for Rich, a colleague introduced him to Device Solutions. “I went over and met with Chris and Bob to see how much this was going to cost, but instead of talking about money they asked about my vision,” Rich says. In the end, Chris and Bob proposed a partnership. “We all agreed we wanted a functional device that families could afford,” Rich explains. “What I didn’t realize was just how good these guys are. They took my dream, including my wish list of improvements like LED lights, on-and-off modes and smart components, and made it a reality.”

According to Bob Witter, Device Solutions’ CEO, there were a number of reasons they decided to take a chance on RE-vibe. “First, we are suckers for any project that helps kids,” says Bob. “Secondly, although we are still a small company, we are significantly larger than the three-person shop we were in 2003-2004.  Back then, when we were largely unknown, some folks took a chance on Device Solutions, enabling us to launch and bootstrap our new company. We haven’t forgotten that, and when the timing and project are right we enjoy paying that forward.”


Caption: Finished RE-vibe Product, available to the public today!

Bob’s final reason for working on RE-vibe was Rich himself. “Rich was focused on getting RE-vibe in the hands of every child who could benefit from it, regardless of their economic status,” says Bob. “There was no question that he was going to succeed. That kind of passion serves to energize us – we had to be a part of it!”

While Device Solutions got RE-vibe ready for manufacture, Rich went in search of funding. This was another, though very different challenge. “I applied for an NCIDEA Grant but was turned down,” Rich explains. “However, the judges liked the idea enough to send me through their accelerator program, Groundwork Labs. After completing the program, where I learned to write a business plan and created FokusLabs as a platform for RE-vibe, I reapplied and won a $50K grant!”

Rich has since won an Innovation Fund of North Carolina grant and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the testing of RE-vibe in schools. “Our initial study went really well,” Rich says. “The kids liked wearing the devices, and we got feedback that helped us make improvements.”


Caption: Rich with Rep. Price (D) of North Carolina
at the Device Solutions Inc headquarters in Morrisville, NC

Those improvements have been incorporated into the 2,000 units that are on sale at RE-vibe’s formal launch. “Creating RE-vibe has been all consuming,” says Rich, who still works a full-time job as a school psychologist. “I couldn’t have done it without Device Solutions. They have the technological know-how to create anything you can dream up and people who are caring, engaged, accessible and happy to work with you. They put people first. That’s how challenges are met and dreams become realities.”

– Jena Ball