Sometime after the highly contentious 2000 Presidential election, made so famous by Floridians and hanging chads, Gary McCarthy pulled up behind a car and saw an “Al Gore for President” bumper sticker. McCarthy’s first thought? “The election’s over! That guy should change his bumper sticker!”
Political bumper stickers have always had an unofficial expiration date of sorts. Voters who picked the winning candidate often kept their stickers in full display to show they picked a winner. Some of course attempted the impossible task of scraping off the old sticker.
As McCarthy was studying that expired Gore sticker, he came up with an idea: make a sticker that could be easily removed and changed with a new message.
"I sat on the idea for nearly 20 years. I got my idea patented, prototyped, and began trying to market it to different not-for-profits on my own. It was a challenge to get the attention of major organizations though." That's when he decided to take the product directly to the masses through a kickstarter campaign. "A lot of people want to put stickers on their cars but don't want to make a commitment like that to just one message".
He continued: “It serves such a great purpose. You can change your image and your message. It’s like a status update for your car. You can have as many messages as you want."
He calls the new product “Bmprgrm” (pronounced “Bumpergram” minus the vowels).
McCarthy's newfangled bumper sticker consists of a traditional car magnet and a plastic encasement designed to hold interchangeable inserts.
"Customers print or purchase an insert that fits into the case and the message or image can be changed, replacing whatever message was in there before," he explained.
“With social media, people love to create their own content and make posts regularly. This can display a more specific message. You can control your own narrative whenever you change the sticker.”
But McCarthy is doing more than just becoming another entrepreneurial startup. He thinks of his invention in much broader terms.
“I want to use my invention to serve a greater good. I first thought of this idea looking at a Presidential campaign sticker, so, it's fitting that I allow for its first usage to be one that promotes education, artistic creativity, freedom of speech, and voting.”
McCarthy set up a Kickstarter campaign online and received more than $5,000 in contributions in just over a month from nearly 100 people, about 40 percent of the total amount of money he needs to launch.
And, he’s already taking the first steps towards a larger expansion of Bmprgrm: “I met someone at Amazon called the “Treasure Truck.”
Like a popup store within Amazon.
“They’re trying to get some eyeballs and energy on it.”
As a teacher for more than 10 years, McCarthy is finding other ways to market his magnets, like fundraising for school clubs and student activities.
He also thinks “Bmprgrm” can be translated to different types of industries.
The magnetic stickers are priced at $10 but McCarthy thinks they can be manufactured at a much lower cost.
“Magnetic stickers with a cute logo on it on a college campus normally go for $5.”
Given the 2020 campaign is right around the corner, it appears the timing for Gary
McCarthy’s new invention couldn’t be better.
Kickstarter program: wevotebecause.com