In the Spring of 2009, Andy Zsinko painted a friends motorcycle with photo-luminescent paint in an effort to get it to glow in the dark. Think of the safety benefit of a glowing bike on a dark road, not to mention the graphic possibilities! The good news was that it worked. The bad news was that it would only glow for 10–15 minutes.

Back to the drawing board and a big bold challenge was born. “I was just driven by my own intellectual curiosity” said Andy. “I just wanted to solve a problem.”

Unaware that big paint companies, like Sherwin Williams, BASF and PPG had tried to crack this problem without success, Andy was uniquely suited to tackling this challenge. His father owned body shops where Andy had worked as a painter and he later worked on computer networks. But his biggest advantage was coming at the problem as an outsider. Not bound by existing materials, processes or orthodoxies, Andy was free to “think wrong” and prototype ideas that others hadn’t considered. Thus was born Darkside Scientific and Luminor Labs.

At Solve Next, we define ingenuity as “a clever, original and practical solution to a big challenge using existing resources.” How does Luminor Labs fit into our six Think Wrong Practices?

  1. Be Bold—Could you use an electric charge to light up the motorcycle surface for an indefinite amount of time, rather than relying on glow-in-the-dark paint… even though nobody has figured it out yet?

  2. Get Out—Escape the orthodoxies and conventions of the big paint and coating companies by not following anyone’s patents or processes.

  3. Let Go—Come up with ideas and technologies that others never considered.

  4. Make Stuff—Trial and error, not meetings and best practices.

  5. Bet Small—Start with smallish projects that reflect an affordable loss.

  6. Move Fast—Build momentum and then apply this technology to cars, bikes, airplanes and more. The possibilities are endless!

The result was an ingenious product idea called Luminor Labs coating systems by Darkside Scientific. I can’t wait to apply this to my Ducati Monster.