“It all started with a feeling and an idea – disgust, quickly followed by a solution.” – Luke Roberts
From Concept to Product
The inspiration for the CleanBlock came in 2011, as Michael Todd Roberts was finishing up a routine visit to the doctor. At checkout, the receptionist offered Michael a pen which, just before, another patient had used – right after covering his cough and sneeze with his hand. While standard office procedure is to wipe down shared instruments, like in many other circumstances, procedure was ignored. Todd, of course, refused the pen, opting instead for his personal one. An unsettling thought, however, grew from that moment. How often were others using public instruments, unaware of how contaminated they could be?
Todd quickly started working on a solution. He consulted with family and friends, and drew up concepts for a simple, easy-to-use way to clean pens. With a design perfected, Todd submitted a patent application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent was granted, and Todd and the CleanBlock were off and running.
In 2012, Todd met with local engineers in Florida to prototype the first physical model of the CleanBlock, marking an important step in solidifying his dream.
The next phase? Research. Todd spent the next few years looking into the market and consulting with industry professionals. How would people respond to the CleanBlock? Was there a need for his invention?
The feedback confirmed his initial feelings from back in the doctor’s office, the day he came up with the idea. People didn’t want to knowingly use or provide dirty, contaminated pens. The CleanBlock could help prevent the spread of germs and keep people healthy. It was a perfect solution.
The road ahead, however, was mired in obstacles.
Setbacks and Solutions
“Even though we had no money, we persevered, because people deserve clean pens.” – Todd Roberts
One serious obstacle stood in the way of getting the CleanBlock into the market – capital. Without the funding necessary to launch the product, Todd was forced to shelve the business for the time. Until opportunity struck.
In late 2016, the company Todd worked for, Orlando Health, announced an innovation showcase among their employees. The concept – help develop ideas into reality, following a similar format to programs like Shark Tank. Todd jumped at the opportunity and submitted his product. The CleanBlock shone, and Todd was selected as a finalist.
With the help from Healthbox and the all-star team at Orlando Health, the CleanBlock gained traction like never before. The attention from the Innovations Showcase launched the business ahead.
A Family Plan
“For us this has never been some corporate business plot; it’s a desire to help solve a problem and the realization of a dream, driven by a father and his son.” – Luke Roberts
In the winter of 2018, with the business growing rapidly, Todd asked his son Luke to join the company. A recent college graduate following recovery from a car accident, Luke was thrilled to help. He has since put all his time and energy into customer service and growing the CleanBlock’s online presence.
Even as you read this, we’re working smarter and harder. While we’re thrilled with what we’ve accomplished, we remain driven and dedicated to our growth. We’ll do whatever it takes to bring the CleanBlock to our valued customers. From sunrise to sunset, on the weekends and on holidays, we’re working – our business is our life, and our life is our business. Because keeping people healthy, one pen at a time, is worth it.