A SHARP IDEA. AN ENTERPRISING YOUNG MAN’S BRAINSTORM: THE WORLD’S BEST PENCIL.
Nearly everything these days is a smart device: speakers, lightbulbs, stoves, refrigerators, even toilets.
But Nelson Ralston thinks that inventors have overlooked one major thing: the pencil.
“Imagine if your pencil told you when it needed sharpening, or when the eraser was worn away,” said Ralston. “It would be amazing.”
Rameen’s wife, Nora, was skeptical at first, but after contacting her uncle Harold, a successful businessman who made his money in videocassette recorders, she changed her tune. “Uncle Harold told me that if Nelson raised fifty thousand dollars himself, he would help bring the idea along.”
Ralston got right to work. “Mostly I just cleared out my savings,” he said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do when you believe in yourself.”
Nelson and Nora wired the money to Uncle Harold, who had promised that he would take a look at the company’s prospectus. While they waited, they brainstormed names. “I started with SmartPencil,” said Nelson. “That worked, but it was a little obvious. Then I just let my mind wander. Write On was one, though I think someone has that already. Lead Leader, which I like but it’s hard to know how to pronounce it. iPencil was a no-go. Wi-Fi-Conderoga? Too strained?”
Nelson leapt up, went to the back of his house and returned shaking his head. “I had a long list written down, but I can’t remember them all. Nora, did you see my list?”
Nora shook her head. She was on the phone and couldn’t answer.
Nelson went on. “Oh, well. I did come up with a slogan: ‘Number one when it comes to #2.’ I think a sorta-potty company has that one also, but I’m sure I can use it, even if with slight variation.”
NORA HUNG UP THE PHONE
Nora hung up the phone. “Nelson,” she said.
“What is it?”
“I was just trying to call Uncle Harold. It’s the strangest thing. His office said that he’s gone.”
Nelson turned ashen. “Dead?”
“Not dead, no. Gone. He cleared out of town. He zeroed out all his personal accounts and bought a plane ticket cash.”
“That’s the thing. No one knows.”
Nelson stared for a long time. Finally he spoke. “Well, that’s okay,” he said. “He knows where to find us.”