Influence, Wallets, and Beer.

by Ben N on September 17, 2018

A few years back, I traveled out to Washington State for a Mother Earth News Fair. I gave several presentations about how I built my own electric car and motorcycle, as well as other various DIY Projects.

While I was there, I was approached by a young man named Mark King.

While still in High School, Mark built a three-wheeled electric vehicle, because it got around the rules at his school about overpriced parking permits. He sheepishly presented himself to me, saying that he was an inventor, and asked for input on something he designed – a metal wallet.
It really was a great design.
I’ve always been a fan of Swiss Army Knives and Multi-tools. The more something can do, the better.
I said, “It’s great, add a bottle-opener”. Mark wasn’t even 21 yet, and probably wasn’t thinking about opening beers.
A few months later, his product came out on Kickstarter, where it raised over $40,000… and had a bottle-opener.
Mark sent me a couple of these utility wallets as a thank you, and I’ve been using one ever since. I shot a video review on it which included opening a beer and proving the durability of it by running it over with my truck. (Here’s that video from 2013.)

The only way to stop a Trayvax utility wallet is by losing it, which happened recently after I got hit by a lumber truck. Somewhere in the drug-hazed trips to all the doctors, clinics, and hospitals, my health insurance card and wallet disappeared. Fortunately, I still had two more of the wallets stashed away. (Besides what Mark sent me, I was also a supporter on the Kickstarter.) After cancelling and reissuing my debit card, library card, and renewing my driver’s license, I was back in business.
That brings us to today. Because I’m approaching 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, I thought I’d try thanking my audience with some sort of a giveaway. I still have one more brand-new Trayvax, and because I DO love mine and use it every day, I thought it would make a good give-away for the 50,000th subscriber.
I took a look at Mark’s web page to check the specs and retail price on the wallet, but was blown away by the new products. Mark is now running a small company of over 25 employees, designing and making heirloom quality wallets and accessories here in the U.S.A.
I also double-checked Kickstarter and saw a new campaign is underway and already FULLY-FUNDED.
I never know how much influence I have in the world. I’d go to places like the Mother Earth News Fairs, get up on a stage and talk about electric vehicles, DIY, and just plain learning how to do things. I’d earn just enough from selling instructional DVDs to cover my travel expenses, and then return home, never knowing how much I’d touch peoples lives… or not.
I’d like to think that me being on that stage at least in some small way encouraged a young entrepreneur to follow his dreams, but Mark was already an amazingly bright person who could probably do anything he set his mind to.
We all have influences. From famous designers and inventors, down to our 6th-Grade Science teacher. When we stand up and speak our mind, write a letter, or post a video, we become influencers too.
 Let’s make sure that’s a positive thing.
If nothing else, at least I now live in a world where I can open my beer with my wallet!

Until next time, stay charged-up!

-Ben Nelson

PS: Please do support small/local/artisan businesses and independent artists and designers. If you are in the market for a wallet take a look at:

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