Rubber Bandits

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Adrian Chernoff created Rubber Bandits® — a rubber band with a tear-resistant label — as a product idea for an invention competition. The competition was the first national search of its kind to find America’s next breakthrough office product. The nation-wide challenge was called Invention Quest™ and was created and hosted by Staples®, the office-supply chain retailer. After being selected as one of the top ideas from a field of over 8,300 entries, getting through several rounds of competition, winning the online vote (from 147,000 ballots), and being chosen as a winner by a panel of judges including Art Fry (the inventor of the Post-It Note®), Adrian’s Rubber Bandit was selected by Staples founder and Chairman Tom Stemberg and his executive team to go into production and on to the store’s shelves.


Marketing Zing: Rubber Bandits are great for labeling and bundling things, whether you’re in the office, home, an academic environment, or a retail setting. Now you can bundle things and know what's in them. Bundle and label posters, blueprints, presentations, folders, mail, inventory items...there are simply thousands of ways to use Rubber Bandits®! 


Rubber Bandits
Universal Application: Rubber Bandits is an easy-to-use office product that solves a unique problem for business professionals and home office users alike. Rubber Bandits can enhance any industry or field: Education, Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing, Engineering, Legal, Finance, Clerical, Workshop, Libraries, Athletics, Restaurants…the list is endless.


  1. Packaging Zing: Introducing long-lasting, durable rubber bands with tear-resistant, write-on labels.

  2. The easy way to organize and label items

  3. Instant organization - just wrap and you're done

  4. So many uses: organize documents, label items for storage, create reminders

  5. Heavy-duty rubber bands with water- and tear-resistant labels that you can write on

  6. Write directly on label with pen or marker


All Types of Users: It doesn’t matter who you are—everyone wants to be able to easily find things. This innovative office tools helps artists, teachers, lawyers, architects, engineers, restaurant owners, and even flower shops be better organized amidst a world of constant clutter and disorganization.




How Rubber Bandits Were Invented: The story began with a phone call and a challenge. Adrian’s mother had called him one evening and made him promise to enter the competition. As time was running out and the deadline was fast approaching, he knew he had to come up with something. But what?


The deadline was a week away. While Adrian was sitting in an airport shuttle bus en route to see his brother in Colorado, he decided to noodle some ideas. Late at night, in the dark, armed only with an iPod, note cards, and a pen, he began imagining possibilities.
Get Orginized with Rubber Bandits
Keeping things organized is tricky, he thought, especially when shuffling documents and files at work. Items always get misplaced, are difficult to bundle, and can be almost impossible to locate later on. He’d tried to use sticky notes and rubber bands to keep items together, but the sticky notes invariably got lost in the transition.


All of a sudden, a light bulb went off in his head—that was it! Why not add a label to a rubber band? And that’s how Rubber Bandits was invented.


Beating the Competition: What made Adrian Chernoff different from his competitors was that he didn’t have an idea to invent when the competition was announced. Unbeknownst to Adrian, practically all of his competitors had had years to hone their ideas: they’d either filed for patents, been working on their ideas for years, or had translated their ideas into working and functional prototypes. Meanwhile, in comparison, Adrian began his project with a blank piece of paper. And yet—against the odds!—he won.




How Rubber Bandits Were Transformed into a Real Product: After being selected from a field of over 8,300 entries, Adrian’s idea for Rubber Bandits was put into the top 100 round of the competition (the semi-finals). Once he knew he’d made it into the semi-finals, he only had six weeks to turn an idea from one that existed solely as a sketch on a piece of paper into one that was a real and functional product. But at least he already had a name for his product—that saved one step in the process.


Rubber Bandit
A frantic dash ensued: late-night outings, making prototypes, and scouring through hardware depots, fabric stores, office-supply stores, and you-name-it stores. Then Adrian began the process of refining Rubber Bandits into reality. After hours upon hours of online materials research and testing a wide array of materials in real life, Adrian began trying to attach a label to a band. Some bands were inflexible; others were made of rubber. The difficult part was attaching things to rubber bands and getting them to stay in place and not tear off.


With the deadline fast approaching, Adrian starting riveting labels to rubber bands and made dummy packaging for the first real stage of the competition. He filled up a bag of items that were banded and labeled with Rubber Bandits, made a series of mock-up packages, and flew off to pitch his idea to the judges. He had a simple strategy: show the need, demonstrate the solution, and sell the idea.


It worked, and he won! …But it wasn’t over yet.


  1. Semi-Final Judges for Staples Invention Quest

  2. Phil Barry, Staples Brand Group

  3. Doug Melville, Designer and Partner with Design Innovation

  4. Beth Obermiller, VP of Product Development, Big Idea Group

  5. Kevin Thomas, Regional Vice President, Staples


In less than five weeks, Adrian had to make his idea real—rivets and fabric labels weren’t going to cut it. He searched high and low for suitable materials and finally found map-making material that could be glued onto itself.


The slow transformation from concept to product was beginning to happen! The only problem was that the labels were too flexible. Still, he felt he had a solid solution, so he started to engineer hundreds of prototypes, create a brand identity, and create packaging for this future product. In the final weeks, he even went so far as to make a one-minute movie sales pitch.


  1. Tag Line: A rubber band with a label you can write on™


A Rubber Band with  a Label
A week before he flew off again for the next round of the competition, Adrian finally found a material that could be written on and that worked better than the map material did. He’d taken a soft and flexible FedEx envelope and begun to explore how that material would work with his idea. It did, but only to an extent. (It melted in his printer.) After researching the material and calling DuPont, Adrian discovered that they had other materials made from high-density plastic fibers (olefins) that could do the job.


He had his solution! After winning the hearts and souls of the judges and the executives at the competition, Rubber Bandits went to market.


  1. Esteemed Judges at the Staples Invention Quest Completion in NY

  2. Michael Pappas, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

  3. Rayvon Fouche, Invention/Innovation Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  4. Art Fry, 3M Inventor of the Post-it® Note

  5. Corey Greenberg, NBC Today Show Consumer Correspondent
    Rubber Bandit Labels

  6. Joanne Hayes-Rines, Publisher, Inventor’s Digest

  7. Thomas Stemberg, Chairman and Founder, Staples


  8. Staples Executives in Attendance at the Competition

  9. Ronald L. Sargent, President & CEO

  10. John Mahoney, Vice Chairman & CFO

  11. Demos Parneros, President US Stores

  12. Michael Miles, President & Chief Operating Officer

  13. Shira Goodman, Executive Vice President

  14. Dave Perron, Executive Vice President

  15. Jevin Eagle, Senior Vice President

  16. David D’Angelo, Senior Vice President

  17. Robert George, Senior Vice President

  18. Mark Bacon, Senior Vice President

  19. Kevin Downs, Regional Vice President

  20. Derrick Wood, Vice President

  21. Mike Nelson, Vice President

  22. Andrew Schneider, Director

  23. John Zarba, Director


Staples Licenses Rubber Bandits: In 2004, Staples® started the process of licensing Rubber Bandits within the context of an exclusive three-year agreement. In 2005, Rubber Bandits hit the shelves in over 1,400 stores throughout the United States and Canada. In accordance with the conclusion of the exclusivity agreement, the product is now temporarily unavailable. (The good news is that a new rubber band label product is being developed that will expand the product line into new segments and product sizes.) Rubber Bandits is currently looking for vendors and manufacturers to create and reintroduce this green product back into the marketplace.


Rubber Bandits used on Blue Prints and Drawings

Back of Bandits Product Packaging



Product video created for the final found of the Staples Invention Quest competition


Rubber Bandits used on Blue Prints and Drawings


Media Coverage

LAMELSON-MIT INVENTOR : Rubber Bandits, Sept. 22, 2008

DETROIT NEWS: “Watch out, Post-it Notes”, by Karen Dybis, May 3, 2005

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Staples Solicits Inventive Ideas”, by William M. Bulkely, July 13, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE TRIBUNE: Rubber bands help stretch innovation truths, by Randy Burge, September 14, 2006

INNOVATORS OF ANDERSON: July 2006

ROYAL OAK DAILY TRIBUNE: “Making Organization A Snap”, by Amanda Lee, February 13, 2004

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL: “Clever Idea Gets it Day”, by Harry Moskos, May 29, 2005

MARKET WIRE: Staples, Chairman & Founder to Open The NASDAQ Stock Market With Staples Invention Quest Finalists, March 9. 2004

BUSINESS WIRE: “Twelve Innovators From Across the U.S. Selected as Finalists in Staples Invention Quest”, February 9, 2004

ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE: “Winning a Contest can catapult your Invention into the Mainstream”, by Don Debelak, April 2005

Fox 2 News Morning, WJBK-TV CH 2 (FOX) Detroit, May 16, 2005

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS: “'Apprentice' invention could be worth hiring”, by Rene A. Guzman, May 9, 2005


Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities By Christian Terwiesch, Karl T. Ulrich, Harvard Business Press, 2009 pg 65

Essentials of Management By Andrew J. DuBrin, Edition: 8 - 2008, pg 185


Rubber Bandits used on Blue Prints and Drawings


Rubber Bandit Testimonials

We have used a very large amount of your incredible product…Rubber Bandits are great!”

Zingerman's Deli, Ann Arbor, MI (Food Retailer and Restaurateur)


“We're great fans. I’m an advertising art director and my husband is a furniture designer. We use Rubber Bandits for all our large layouts and blueprints.”

Stanton Creative, High Point, NC (Advertising & Design)


“We are a very busy small office with limited storage space for our plans…which are hard to keep sorted without the benefit of using the Rubber Bandits. Rubber Bandits make labeling plans a breeze and keep us organized! Thanks, Rubber Band Man.”

Kuban Electric LTD., Burnaby, BC, Canada (Luxury Home Installer)


“As an employee of Queen's Cove Marina, I take pride in providing our customers with the products they need. One item we offer to our customers is nautical charts used to navigate through the local complex waterways. These charts are poster-sized and are rolled up for easy storage. However, in order to properly identify them, we must unroll them as we cannot write on (or adhere) any labels.


Last year, while perusing the Staples catalog, I came across the
perfect product for us: Rubber Bandits! What a simple, yet brilliant idea that would have many multiple uses!!! I purchased some immediately and discovered how wonderful they really were. I no longer have to spend 20 + minutes searching through all of our charts for customers, wasting valuable time. Each chart is now labeled with a Rubber Bandit, and most customers are finding what they need themselves.”

Crystal Quesnelle, Queen’s Cove Marina, Victoria Harbour, ON, Canada (Ocean & Maritime)


“We find them very useful for binding and tagging rolled-up blueprints and drawings.”

Johnson & Jordan Mechanical Contractors, Portland, ME (Construction)


“I run a statewide Tutoring and Home Schooling Agency called Achievement Unlimited. We specialize in individualizing each student's program to meet their specific needs. After our materials processor gathers the appropriate materials for a student, she bundles them together with a Rubber Bandit, writes the name of the tutor and the student on the label, and delivers them to a centralized location for the tutor to pick up. Your wonderful Rubber Bandits work perfectly for this purpose.”

Achievement Unlimited, Avondale, CO (Education)


 

Rubber Bandits: Labeling Bands