Thursday, September 16, 2021

Microstory 1714: Big Dog Ballpoint Pens

My great great grandfather started this company. The year was 1904, and he was extremely ahead of his time. You may have heard that the first ballpoint pens were sold in the middle of the century, but that is not true. That is just when they became popular, and started on the road to ubiquity. My ancestor was the first to break into the industry after they were invented. He knew that there was something to this new technology. Big Dog was his nickname in the army, on account of how good he was at sniffing out the enemy. He mostly sold to construction companies who wanted to mark the wood they were cutting with something other than pencil, and to left-handed note-takers who were tired of the ink and lead smudging on their hands. Yes, sir, he was a pioneer, and I admire him for that. I never knew the man, but I know what he stood for. He was simple, and easy to please. He never wanted to be the biggest writing utensil company in the world, which is why he never thought to branch out into other instruments, nor did his descendants. We do ballpoints, and we only do ballpoints. Our design has become more sophisticated over time, and we’re on the verge of launching the next generation in our popular funtime series, which features characters from a certain children’s TV show that all you parents out there are familiar with. Still. It’s just ballpoint pens. We don’t make other kinds of pens, or pencils. We don’t sell paper to go along with it, or even pen cases. A single product with multiple series to appeal to an array of customers. My grandfather was adamant about that—I remember—rest in peace. He wanted to keep the tradition, and while I’m no one to scoff at tradition, I also know a business opportunity when I see one. We’re a household name now, and we should start thinking bigger.

When my dad retired two years ago, he gave me one single mandate. He said, “son, this company is yours now. I expect you to treat her as well as your predecessors always did.” Well, that’s what I plan on doing, and I don’t think adding new products interferes with, or contradicts, that mandate. He might have meant to say that I wasn’t allowed to change anything, but that’s not what he said, and that’s not what I’m going to do. It’s the 21st century now, and pens...aren’t as big as they used to be. They’re still great, but kids these days are always on their little devices. It’s time that we get into the little devices business. Introducing the Big Dog Augmented Reality Stylus. Unlike my great great grandfather, we’re not the first to make this product, but we believe we’re the best. With our free phone app, you can view any virtual writing in any space, whether you were the one who first created it, or not. With the handy writing board, you can write or draw in whatever position is most comfortable, and then drag—or even throw—the content over to some other point in space. With our view glasses, you can draw and view the content without even using your hands. We’ve been developing these products for two years now, and we’re just about ready to release them. I know, that sounds insane. How does a ballpoint pen company suddenly pivot to AR? Well, the truth is that I’ve been working on this my whole life. I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, and a masters in computer engineering. I also studied art in high school, so I know what creative people want. This is where the future of technology is headed, and we’re ready for it. Believe it or not, the first models are finished and tested. Right now, we’re looking for investors to work with us on distribution and advertising. So wadya say? Who’s in?

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