Happy Accidents #033 - The Time Timer
A new way of LOOKING at time
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Get ready for a time-traveling adventure that takes us back to the late 1990’s, when a mother's ingenious idea set the stage for a revolutionary invention.
Today, we're diving into the captivating story of Jan Rogers and her accidental journey to create the Time Timer, a simple yet transformative device that has captured hearts and changed lives around the world.
Let's dig in, shall we?
SETTING THE STAGE
This is the part of every Happy Accident story where we see every successful outcome starts with the person putting themselves in a favorable position. They work hard, they try new things, they meet new people. They're not just sitting around 'hoping' to be successful some day.
Picture a cozy home in Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 1990’s, where a young and curious 4-year-old named Loran often posed the age-old question: "How much longer?"
If you’re a parent, you’ve likely heard this same question hundreds (if not thousands) of time.
Enter Jan Rogers, Loran’s mom, a brilliant mind with an unsolvable dilemma.
But no matter how she tried to explain time to Loran, it was as elusive as a wisp of smoke.
“Until the little hand moves to here”
“Until the timer goes off”
Nothing seemed to work. Loran just wasn’t able to understand the concept of time.
Jan, a driven and caring mother, was determined to find a solution that would turn the sands of time into something Loran could grasp.
THE HAPPY ACCIDENT
This is the part of every success story where there's a chance encounter, a serendipitous moment, an unintentional discovery (or Happy Accident) that paves the way for the next steps. In some cases, a Happy Accident can even be disguised as something bad in the moment.
After many failed attempts, frustration turned into inspiration, and Jan embarked on a whimsical quest.
Armed with determination, she set out to craft a clock that would do what no clock had done before—show, not just tell, the passing of time.
What started as a spark of brilliance led to the invention of the Time Timer, a visual representation of time's flow that would forever change how we perceive the passing moments.
Here’s a quote directly from Jan Rogers from an interview in the Time Timer blog:
“No timer available at that point could give her the information she wanted – the kitchen timer was a bell in space, she knew it was coming just not when; the digital clock and watches were just a series of numbers that meant nothing; the clock on the wall was confusing and difficult to interpret.”
Much like Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic and Sara Blakely with Spanx, Jan found herself accidently going down the path of inventor / entrepreneur in order to solve a frustrating problem she was facing.
And with that, the Time Timer was born.
Just like Happy Accidents don't just fall into your lap (you need to set the stage first), they also don't turn into anything if you don't recognize them and take action. This is the part of every success story where we see people capitalizing on their Happy Accident.
Little did Jan know, her solution to Loran's innocent question was a game-changer waiting to be discovered.
At first, Jan created the timers herself using different colored paper plates.
But as the gears of creativity turned, and the need for the device appeared to be more widespread, the Time Timer evolved from primitive prototypes to a true masterpiece.
“It seemed to me that if my child was having difficulty with this basic task of understanding elapsed time, other children might need the same kind of resource to help understand time. In my daughter’s early schooling, time was taught as a position on a clock face, not a duration, so it was difficult for a child to manage time segments. I thought that if the child could actually “see” time move, they would be better equipped to meet deadlines, transition, self-monitor timed activities, etc.”
So, Jan set out to bring the Time Timer to the rest of the world. But she ran into many roadblocks when trying to get manufacturers to take her and her product seriously.
Undeterred by challenges and armed with courage, Jan persevered and eventually found a company that would make the parts for her.
She then took matter into her own hands (literally) piecing together the very first Time Timers herself. She was her own assembly line.
Her time and effort eventually paid off.
Jan’s commitment to realizing her vision laid the foundation for a future success beyond her wildest dreams.
As CEO, Jan would eventually go on to grow Time Timer into a multi-million dollar company over the next 25+ years.
Today, Time Timers are used by parents, schools, and businesses worldwide in a variety of applications.
All due to that fateful serendipitous question “How much longer?”
TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ (TL;DR)
The invention of the Time Timer was the product of a happy accident when Jan Rogers, looking to help her daughter understand time, crafted a clock that "showed" time passing visually.
This unintentional creation turned into a multi-million dollar business, benefiting countless children and individuals worldwide ever since.
Some fun facts:
🕒 The Time Timer wasn't an overnight sensation. Jan's invention took over 25 years to reach its perfected form, proving that patience and persistence can lead to remarkable achievements.
🕒 Initially conceived to aid children, the Time Timer found unexpected applications in classrooms, workplaces, and homes, becoming an invaluable tool for time management and focus.
🕒 Jan's journey to success wasn't a solo act. Her dedication to her invention and belief in its potential helped her overcome skepticism and blaze a trail for women in the male-dominated world of invention and innovation.
🕒 According to Owler, as of the date of this writing, Time Timer’s annual revenue is $8.4M, with 33 employees.
The lessons here:
Chance Meets Vision: Jan's quest began with an innocent question and led to an accidental yet groundbreaking invention. Embrace unexpected moments—they might hold the key to your next big idea.
Perseverance Pays Off: Jan's journey was riddled with challenges, but her unwavering determination propelled her invention from concept to reality. Be persistent and resolute in pursuing your goals.
Believe in Your Spark: Jan's self-belief and passion shattered barriers, proving that even the simplest idea can transform lives. Trust your instincts and have faith in your creative sparks.
YOUR Happy Accidents
Or this one from Gunnar Habitz about how a lay off turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Hey, Dennis Geelen here. Author of the Happy Accidents newsletter.
Are you looking to bet on yourself? See how I can help.
Head to www.dennisgeelen.me