It all started with a drawing. But rising Hiram College senior Nathanial Eaton, a management major born in Columbus, Ohio, is now well on his way to changing summer water-fight fun forever. From a sketch, to a cardboard cutout, to a clear plastic guard, to a foam shield, the Water Dodger is a “water balloon fight in reverse – whether it’s between two players or 20-plus – the driest person or team wins,” says Eaton.
After placing second in Hiram College’s 2016 Ideabuild competition, Eaton was able to put his $1,500 in entrepreneurship contest prize money toward a provisional patent application and trademark for the Water Dodger and its games. As founder and CEO of his business, Eaton is ready to launch the product, which goes by the same name as his novel innovation, Water Dodger.
Eaton says his imagination has long compelled him to pursue entrepreneurship. Since he was a freshman in college, Eaton conceptualized inventions and business ideas in his sketchbook. When he was invited to present at a business startup competition, he looked to his notebook for inspiration. The idea for the Water Dodger came out of his book of designs, but originally the drawing was of a wristwatch-like water squirter. Eaton has a personal goal of taking the suggestively violent gun out of water fun. “The Water Dodger offers a big splash and a more positive image,” says Eaton.
The wrist spray toy evolved over months to an entirely new product, though Eaton’s passion for taking guns out of the hands of young people is obvious in the Water Dodger. The product promotes the use of water balloons – which users can store in a net pouch on the back of the foam shield.
Eaton has even invented four games to play using his product: Solo Madness, Team Fusion, Captain Protection and Intruders.
Eaton will soon meet with representatives of several companies to discuss his “vision of manufacturing, funding and how to move forward,” he explains.
He believes in “going the extra mile” and encourages other new entrepreneurs to not be afraid to discuss their product ideas – patented or not – with friends, potential customers and entrepreneurship directors at their colleges.
“People don’t mind sharing 20 seconds with a stranger with a smile,” says Eaton. “Don’t hesitate to do your own homework and teach yourself when standstills happen.”