The founders of an electric bike startup and a high school robotics club walk into a neighborhood hardware store. (Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.) Soon enough, they’re organizing a raffle to help the team’s robot, which stacks boxes to win competitions.
That’s what happened at Annie’s Ace Hardware, where the cofounders of Riide, Amber Wason and Jeff Stefanis, used to go retool when they were still prototyping out of Stefanis’s basement. “Every now and again we just needed a random tool, and we just had to hack something together,” said Wason. “We were often at Annie’s Hardware picking up hardware and tools.”
Store owner Annie Stom was separately approached by the robotics team of nearby E.L. Haynes High School for a donation; they wanted to make a strong showing at the D.C. regional contest and make it to the FIRST Robotics Championship in April. She then concocted the idea for a raffle: Riide will be selling one of its bikes to the robotics team, which is in turn selling 160 raffle tickets for $25 each. One lucky winner will ride off with the bike (a $1,799 value).
In the past, the robotics team has built a frisbee-playing robot, and a robot that could move a giant exercise ball. (More on their projects here.) Club advisor and physics teacher Shane Donovan said in an email: “our team is almost entirely students whose parents didn’t go to college, and our 4 seniors have currently amassed almost $1 million in scholarship money.”
Wason and Stefanis also plan on coaching the students on “what it’s like to take a product to market,” Wason said.
You can pick up a ticket at Annie’s Ace Hardware, or through the team. The drawing will be held April 11 at 1 p.m.