An out-of-the-box solution
A problem-solver, Vincent Suozzi ’82 invented a compact tool that makes it easier to enjoy a weed-free garden.
By Shakori Fletcher ’16
Vincent Suozzi ’82 has always had an affinity for gardening. Seven years ago, while helping a friend with an outdoor project, he discovered a problem that others have likely shared.
“I was working with a buddy of mine weeding flower beds, and he told me to use a long screwdriver tool to weed the plants since larger tools would not be able to do the job,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘There has to be a better way. If I had a tool attached to my hand it would be a natural way to weed.’”
Fast-forward five years. While Suozzi’s son and college roommate were home for Thanksgiving break, they convinced Suozzi to commit to his idea and focus on the invention. Several visits to a welder and a mechanical engineer, and various prototypes later, The Ring Weeder was born. “When people see it—they’re going to want it,” he says. “It’s not expensive and it’s something new.”
It’s also easy to use. The tool, which fits over gardeners’ gloves, makes it easy to loosen and remove roots with little effort. Suozzi generated significant buzz for the tool after a July 2013 Yahoo! Homes story featured it during an online, 40-day Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. The page went from 2,500 to 150,000 views in a 24-hour period. Views turned into financial backing and Suozzi ended the campaign far exceeding his goal of $8,500, raising more than $21,000.
To date, Suozzi has sold about 4,000 units of The Ring Weeder, and he is now working with an entrepreneurship mentor group at Drexel University to continue marketing it. “This Thanksgiving will be three years; what I’ve accomplished so far makes me feel proud,” he says. “The most rewarding aspect is that I did it. Now we’re moving forward.”
Suozzi’s business success brings him full-circle with his alma mater. After all, it was there the middle school physical education teacher was first encouraged to “think out of the box” by professors in the School of Education. That way of thinking fueled his creativity, which he now credits for his invention. “I had some of the best teachers when I attended Elon,” he says, adding he also met his wife, Anna Christie ’82, there. “My memories of Elon will last a lifetime.”