Entrepreneurial HS Senior Coasting Towards a Bright Future

Handmade coaster business to help pay for college.

Coasters with local school logos, courtesy of Ryan Rist
Coasters with local school logos, courtesy of Ryan Rist

Brookfield High student Ryan Rist saw the watermarks on his kitchen table - and spotted a way to help pay for college.

The 18-year-old used a 3-D printer to invent an absorbent drinks coaster that customers can personalize with photos or company logos. He reached out to the community through a Kickstarter campaign - and has been blown away by the response.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he told Patch in a phone interview. He reached his minimum goal of $500 in just 2 hours, according to The News Times and by Monday lunchtime nearly $2,000 had been pledged. He will use the money to cover some of the costs of going to Temple University in Pennsylvania in the fall.

Now, he has far more coasters to make than he previously expected. “This summer I’m going to be set up in my living room watching the World Cup and making coasters,” he laughed. In the future, he hopes to be able to go through a mass-production company. But for now, he hand-makes each one using a plastic mould he and his Dad designed.

“It’s been a little overwhelming,” he says, “but I just want to keep the momentum up.”

Rist started the business as “independent study” through Capstone’s optional end of year project, but had the idea back in December.

"He is an amazing high school student,'' Sue Troupe, the high school's school-to-career coordinator, said to The News Times. "In my 23 years at Brookfield High School, I have seen many students come up with fantastic ideas, but not take the next difficult steps.”

This is not Rist’s first invention. When he was 9 years old he invented a bowl to keep his cereal crispy, but chose not to monetize on that idea.


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