BRADENTON -- David Borman is a bit of a wizard with a touch of MacGyver ingenuity to create aerodynamic boats and organic hydroponic gardens from ordinary items.
It took a little love to motivate Borman's latest invention.
He would never consider himself a wine snob among the many abilities he has, but when he wasn't able to afford expensive wine for his girlfriend and lacked an aerator, he decided to build one himself.
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"I was unemployed and couldn't afford very nice wine. Terri would not drink my cheap grog unless she drank through this," David Borman said, chuckling at his Braden River home.
The result is the Wine Wizard, which is an electric powered wine aerator that can aerate wine within minutes giving a six dollar bottle a kick of class. It must have wowed his girlfriend enough because she ended up marrying him.
"It really worked," Terri Borman said of the Wine Wizard. "It just takes that vinegary edge off the wine and makes it taste really smooth. It was so good we wouldn't even drink wine without using it."
David Borman is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign where he's trying to crowdfund his project to sell enough of the Wine Wizards for $112 each -- which includes shipping in a custom crate -- to create a factory and hire four people to increase production. Without shipping, the Wine Wizard retails for $96.
So far David Borman said he has sold four of the Wine Wizards to family and friends. He has a sales goal of 375 units, and a dollar goal of $44,000 for the campaign, he said. He has 16 days to go on kickstarter, an online platform used to raise money for new ideas and creative projects.
"Kickstarter is the key to kickstarting the whole thing," he said.
David Borman acknowledges there are wine aerators that cost $20 to $40, but the decanting process can take about an hour. The lightweight Wine Wizard can aerate a bottle within minutes, he said, or even use the wand for a glass.
"I'm not a wine expert, but I know cheap wine when I swallow it," Da
vid Borman said jokingly.
After more than a dozen versions, he settled on his current design using silicon molding, and a fiberglass base he makes all from scratch in his tiny garage. He finishes the base off with high-end yacht paint.
"It was a pump that looked like a mad scientist lab experiment," David Borman said about his original device. "I thought, if anyone wanted one of these sitting on their kitchen counter, it needed to be cute."
The magic is in the wand where at the end of a tube, a micro-pore air stone normally used for hydroponic gardens is placed to oxygenate the wine. Inside the wizard is a 110-volt motor that pumps the air through the tube. Borman turned on his Wine Wizard to demonstrate on a cheap bottle of Malbec and the bitter aroma quickly filled the air as it escaped from the decanter.
While the Wine Wizard works well for cheap wines, the finer wines don't need the wizard, Terri Borman said.
"It's not really made for good wine," she said. "A good wine you can run through this, and it's beautiful, but it's your inexpensive wines that have the bitter edge to them -- those are the ones that this really works good on."
David Borman chalks up his handiness in working with resin, Styrofoam and molds to working in the boating industry for years until the economy collapsed taking him from being a chief executive to unemployed. He still has the spaceship-looking Seaphantom high-speed boat in his yard that was featured on the Discovery Channel.
The aeration knowledge he credits to his yearlong experiment with an organic hydroponic garden and aquaponics system.
Even with his expertise, he had some learning to do.
"I had to adapt soft silicone molding techniques that I never did before," he said.
Eventually, he nailed the process to crank out a Wine Wizard face and base in about 12 minutes each, and if he would be able to hire four employees, he could produce 1,000 a week.
"We're hoping to provide jobs, and it's not to outsource the whole thing," Terri Borman said. "People said why don't you make it in China, but we really don't want to. He designed it so beautifully with these techniques."
Plus without the help, he couldn't get them into a mass retailers like Sam's Club or Total Wine, he said. With the additional help he could produce 10,000 units in 10 weeks, he said.
If all goes well, he hopes it could bring his hydroponic ventures with him on a 12-acre site, and heck, maybe his boat building will return, too.
For more information, visit Kickstarter.com and search "Wine Wizard."
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.