It was comic books that got me into business and into entrepreneurship. I was inspired by the likes of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne, who used their determination and their genius to change the world, get rich and achieve superhuman-like feats. Thus I had little interest in sitting in an office when I was older entering data – I wanted to be creating amazing devices, breaking records and having adventures. Thus I set about becoming an entrepreneur.
Of course the real world is a little different from the comic book reality, and I haven’t yet managed to build myself an Iron Man suit. In reality things cost a lot more money and are much more difficult to promote – you can’t just build something that changes the world all on your own and go down in history.
Or can you?
Of course the title of this article has probably clued you in on the answer to that question already. Out there are plenty of examples of people who have built things that changed the world, that defied the laws of physics and that practically turned them into superheroes. Read on for some incredible examples…
Sir Christopher Cockerell
My favourite part of any film is when Tony Stark is first testing the MkII Iron Man armour in his workshop. The moment of exhilaration when he takes off into the air is palpable and you can really imagine in that moment just how thrilling it would be to achieve the impossible thanks to something you invented.
Well if you thought that stuff like that never happened in real life, then look no further than Sir Christopher Cockerell. This guy invented the hovercraft, and just like in the films he did so at home using parts that he found lying around: a vacuum cleaner and some cans. He then tested his theory by using his contraption to cross the channel between Calais and Dover. He was knighted and eventually received a lump sum from the National Research Development Corporation. The most exciting moment though, must have been when he first took sail across the sea relying on his own ingenuity to ensure he didn’t sink…
I’m not the only guy who likes Iron Man apparently, which is presumably why Troy Hurtubise has invested so much time into developing his body armour ‘Project Grizzly’. Designed to make it safer to come into contact with bears, this suit has also been filmed taking hits from traffic and being thrown down mountains. He’s currently trying to develop a version of the suit for a military contract.
This guy even has a name that sounds like a superhero. His alter-ego though is Jean Yves-Blondeau, French eccentric inventor who created the roller-suit or ‘buggy rolly’. Essentially this is a series of wheels attached to his body that allows him to blast down hills while pulling off all kinds of stunts. Just like Iron Man, Blondeau has created various generations of his suit and is currently on the sixth prototype ‘SURBO’. He generally uses his amazing abilities to startle and amaze tourists and locals rather than selling it for money. Awesomely, he also trained Jackie Chan to use a rollersuit which you can now see in the film CZ12.
Yves Rossy is the Jet-Man, also known as ‘Airman’ and ‘Fusionman’. After serving as a fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force (practically a superhero origin story right there), he went on to develop a rigid back pack that could house aeroplane-style carbon fiber wings and Jet-Cat P200 jet engines. Using this he can fly once deployed from a plane and reach speeds of around 189mph. Which is awesome in case you didn’t realise…
The Wright Brothers
All of this pales however compared to the first guys to accomplish powered flight. Sadly however, heroes those the duo were, these two weren’t actually the first to fly their own vehicle. The moral of this story? If you invent something really awesome – use it yourself first. That’s what turns an entrepreneur or a start-up into a pioneer and an adventurer…
Greg Fisher, the brains behind this article, started Berkeley Sourcing Group eight years ago after realizing the need for efficient processes and coordination between manufacturing firms located in the United States and factories in China. When he is not busy working, he enjoys reading books or playing a good game of chess with his friends.