Like any news blog, VentureBeat gets a lot of spam. Sometimes it’s a long-lost relative from the Philippines who just needs us to send them $10,000 in unmarked bills so that we can claim our inheritance. More recently, “VISA” is claiming our credit cards have been suspended and that all we need to do to lift the restriction is disclose our social security number and mother’s maiden number to an unidentified Hotmail address. But every once in a while, an actual person with a story to tell finds their way to us. Enter Bill Chrouch, an ex-convict who is looking for funding for the 15,128 inventions he came up with while incarcerated.
The following human interest piece consists of excerpts from a series of emails between myself and Chrouch, whose Department of Corrections page can be found here. Some minor grammatical editing was done for readability.
“A rundown of my past includes a lot of time in jail and prison plus lots of charges that were from my old ways of thinking,” Chrouch wrote. “Over the years living the life of a criminal was hard on me and my family, and also a real eye opener cause that’s just not how I want to spend my life. A couple of years back I was sitting in my room locked down for around 20 hours a day, and I started thinking about ways I could make money and not have to commit crimes. I let my creativeness and my time mix and I would come up with ideas on new products just by studying my surroundings and creating new things in my mind. I was able to really think outside of the box cause I didn’t have all the stress a free person had. I came up with anything and everything including toys, websites/apps, green tech, tools, personal care products, to animal products and a lot of things in between. I understand that not every one of those ideas are great ideas, but I do however believe that there are quite a few of them that I know are good.”
Chrouch, who aspires to be the next Ryan Blair, the gang member-turned-“serial entrepreneur” and self-made millionaire, also explained his unique philosophy behind inventing.
“If you really think about it inventing is a way for man to overcome many of life’s obstacles and that everything that has moved our species forward was a form of an invention,” Chrouch wrote. “Otherwise we would just adapt to our environment like most animals, but no we have brains that were built to solve problems and problem-solving and invention go hand-in-hand. Many people feel this same way even President Obama who says that if our country wants to move forward we need innovation. If we were to have more people inventing there would be manufactures hiring people to produce and market and sell these products which will be more jobs and also more taxes to help our states.”
So what is Chrouch hoping to achieve by publicizing his story?
“Now what I’m looking for is someone to help me with funding but as well as someone to become a partner to help me move forward. I need someone who can be hands on this project to get some of these ideas from paper to prototype and getting this process rolling. I’m not sure as what would best suit me if opening a company that patents ideas and license them for others to produce, or just to help companies develop new products to be brought to you, the public, to help all of us. All I know is that I have good intentions now and just want to change my life and move forward in my life and I have a book with thousands of ideas ready to be put to use. So if you feel as if you could be the person to help bring thousands of ideas to life then feel free to use my contact info to get in touch with me and I hope to hear from you.”
When asked to elaborate on what sort of inventions he had concocted, Chrouch replied, “Some of the areas I’ve hit was green technology, toys, stuff for pets, new kinds of dishware, websites, even new types of engines that can power themselves cause if a motor can put out energy, then you have ways to harness that energy to make that engine crank out more energy.” He also shared a more specific example with VentureBeat: “One of my ideas that I came up with but is patented but I still like how I used my ingenuity in it… you know the garbage cans with the pedal that you step on to lift the lid? Well imagine standing in front of the toilet as a man and instead of bending down to touch that dirty seat you would just step on the pedal and it would pop up just like the garbage can and you won’t forget to put the seat down cause it would slowly come back down.”
Naturally, we had to inquire further about Chrouch’s past.
Chrouch’s past will undoubtedly be the first thing people are going to be wondering, regardless of how good his ideas may be.
“…My past is not good but it is just some [breaking and entering] and drug charges and some weapons charges so it’s not great but hey, it made me the man I am today and I’m glad to say that’s the old me. You’re looking at a man that has done about eight years in total for my mistakes in life and I really hate my past because of the people I’ve done wrong and the hell I put myself through. Here I am with 12 felonies from doing dumb shit and hanging with the wrong crowd, and I went to prison twice but when I went the second time I was a man on a mission and I needed to come up with some way I could escape my lifestyle and you know what I turned to inventing. Instead of being out on the yard in the joint I was in my room looking at popular mechanics and Wired magazines to find objects in the pictures that I used to create concepts and to write everything down. So with these ideas I don’t not only want to earn money off my mind but I’d like to get some products patented to get some jobs over here in America and give back for what I did wrong in my life.”