Will Hansen has always been a tinkerer on the lookout for entrepreneurial opportunities. Even while spending 13 years as a biomedical imaging specialist servicing medical imaging equipment such as x-ray machines and CT scanners, he was continuously searching for an outlet to do his own thing. What started as a DIY project—adding a soft start function to his miter saw—turned into a commercially viable option that has since snowballed into a dozen different soft starter models and led Will to form his own company.
After developing a working prototype in 2017, Will formed Innoraymond Power Products LLC in May, 2018. For those unfamiliar with soft starters, they provide a key benefit to those who work with electrical motors. When an A/C motor is turned on, there is an excessive inrush of electrical current that saturates the electrical system, wiring, and motor. That current spike, measured during the first 150 milliseconds, can be as high as 500% of what the motor is rated for; a 15-amp power tool motor can see an inrush current of 75 amps, for instance. This can cause pitting and burning of switch contacts or relays, leading to mechanical stresses and eventual failure. Additionally, an unregulated power tool motor presents a safety hazard, increasing the risk of electrical shock and fire.
Innoraymond's product line of soft starters solves these problems by eliminating the inrush current almost completely, increasing the lifespan of equipment and improving safety. Currently, sales are direct to consumer through the company's website and Amazon, but Will is in the process of obtaining UL certification, which—when approved—will open up the door to more commercial business via distributors and retailers.
Already, the young company is receiving accolades. Innoraymond placed third in the 2020 Governor's Giant Vision Competition, an annual event that allows South Dakota businesses to submit an in-depth business plan. This is reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of venture capitalists, financiers, educators, and established business leaders, and applicants must present their ideas in person. This year's competition was a little different because it took place online due to COVID-19 concerns, but Will is still very happy with the outcome. "It was a great experience!" he says. "It was a priceless motivator to put together some essential business information that will be used many times over."