2014 Fowler Business Concept Challenge undergraduate division winner Jeremy Little continues to bring home accolades for his Unique Pontoon. Little won the Grand Prize, People's Choice, Best Working Model and Gold Medallion at the Minnesota Inventors Congress 2015 Innovation Expo on April 30 and May 1, 2015. No other inventor brought home more than one prize.
With the push of a button, Little's pontoon boat expands from 8' to 11' wide and the built-in trailer retracts underneath the boat. According to Little, "It's the widest pontoon on the market that can legally be trailered on the road." The state of Minnesota requires boats to be less than 8.5' wide when being transported.
Little, a UST junior studying entrepreneurship, spent 10 years working on the prototype with his father, local inventor Mark Little, who won the Minnesota Inventor Congress Grand Prize in 1989 for a different creation. Mark Little died of a deteriorating lung disease last spring, which Jeremy said has led him to see through bringing their idea to market.
After winning the Fowler Business Concept Challenge, the University of St. Thomas' William C. Norris Institute invested in Unique Pontoons to get the boat reverse engineered and work on legal documentation for its patents. Little hopes to start manufacturing the boats in Minnesota this summer.