Mark Sackett, a 34-year veteran of the Osseo School District, didn’t imagine himself with the title of entrepreneur when he was busy teaching 8th grade earth science. He was passionate about making sure his students learned fun and interesting facts about geology, weather and astronomy. Approximately eight years ago, as Sackett was standing in the hall one day during class time, he witnessed a lone student walking down the hall pulling on classmates’ locker handles. Eventually one locker popped open and the student began to rifle through all of the materials inside. A theft was occurring right before Sackett’s eyes. He knew that the security on lockers needed to change to prevent future theft.
Padlocks are no longer adequate to secure the high-ticket items that students bring to school. Thirty years ago, lockers held books, pencils and notepads. Today, students carry expensive cell phones and iPads to and from school. These items are a hot commodity on the black market and are some of the most frequently stolen items from homes, businesses, cars and schools.
In order to protect against theft, Sackett came up with the idea of LockerSafe. It is a portable device with a padlock that can fit, expand and lock into place in virtually any space. It's meant to be used in a school locker, gym locker, filing cabinet or desk drawer at work to provide a secondary layer of security. Since the device locks into place inside a locker, drawer or cabinet, it isn’t subject to the quick “grab and go,” that most thieves are looking for.
A great idea was hatched, but struggles came as the maturation process started. Because Sackett had no background in business and marketing, it was hard to determine how to execute his idea. He reached out to friends in the area to help with marketing the product. He also currently has an engineer working on the fifth locker safe prototype, trying to perfect it even further.
Another major obstacle was a lack of time, energy and money to invest in the project, as Sackett was knee deep in teaching and undergoing open-heart surgery. The product has been emerging slowly over the past eight years. LockerSafe has yet to hit the market. Sackett hopes to sell the idea to someone who would manufacture it. The end goal is to have it available alongside school supplies in major retail stores.
Sackett’s primary advice to those who want to pursue inventing a new product is, “hire the right people that know what they are doing.” Seek help from experts who can help ease bumps in the road of development, design and marketing.
Background: Middle school earth sciences teacher; Sackett taught 8th grade earth science in the Osseo School District for 34 years before retiring in 2015 after having open-heart surgery. He missed interacting with students, so he started teaching again, this time at Community School of Excellence in St. Paul, again as an 8th grade earth science teacher.