The doctor said “Graham, you have Rheumatoid Arthritis” and I replied, “What’s that?” I was 20 years old, had just begun a career in land surveying and remember thinking at the time this could be a bit inconvenient. I was to learn a few years later it really sucked!
I had begun experiencing joint pain in my early teens and my doctor said it was ‘growing pains’. Not an uncommon diagnosis in the early 1970’s for what later turned out to be Juvenile Arthritis we think. Despite being diagnosed with Severe Erosive Rheumatoid Arthritis I continued surveying for another 17 years before the symptoms progressively worsened to a point where I had to eventually give up a job I loved, no longer being able to cope with the physical outdoor work.
In 1996 at the age of 36 I took an office job as a Project Manager with a local company. The Managing Director had himself spent two years in hospital as a child suffering from Juvenile Arthritis (not growing pains apparently). My job included design, costing and purchasing, all skills I would find useful in the future.
We all have defining moments in our lives. I was bowling a cricket ball to my young son in the cricket nets, something we did most evenings during the summer. I stepped up one evening to bowl the ball and was suddenly unable to my roll my arm over. I have never been able to throw or bowl a ball again.
Pain you can treat, for me it was the sense of loss that was the hardest to deal with. The inability to play sport with my children, complete home renovations and participate in active outdoor family activities was the most difficult things to deal with.. People see the disfigurement, but they don’t always appreciate the loss of independence anyone living with a long term illness or disability experience.
A week spent in Burwood Hospital Spinal Unit in Christchurch following my operation for a C1-C2 fusion made me appreciate just how important even a limited level of independence is to a person. I was fortunate to be able to walk out of the unit at the end of the week, most of the other patients in the unit never would. Despite numerous surgeries including joint replacements and fusions from the top of my neck to my toes, it's not been possible to repair all the arthritic damage to my joints. My hands have limited function resulting in a very poor grip. I was always a two finger typist, it’s just I use two different fingers now. My surgeon never did manage to improve my typing skills.
In 2008 I was put on Humira (TNF Inhibitor) and things changed almost overnight. I regained a quality of life I had not enjoyed since my mid 30‘s. I was now living with minimal pain and no longer feeling fatigued. If I felt any better I would be dangerous and then I got an idea!
I love to cook, but had become increasingly frustrated at my inability to hold and use a cooks knife to prepare meals in the kitchen. If cooking becomes hard work, it’s no longer fun. To compensate for my poor hand grip I held a chef knife in one hand and instinctively placed the fingers of my other hand on the tip of the knife, enabling me to cut and chop more effectively.
I figured if I made a food cutting board that retained the tip of the knife beneath a moveable bar, it would free up my hand to hold the item being prepped. As a result the knife effectively becomes a lever, requiring very little effort to hold and use. The bar needed to have a biasing mechanism to allow the tip of the knife to move freely, enabling a chopping and slicing action. The Cibocal Food Cutting Board was born.
I put together a simple prototype in my garage from odds and ends, before demonstrating it to an experienced chef. I was delighted at the response. Here was someone who didn’t have a disability but immediately recognised the simplicity and effectiveness of the design.
People have said to me, “It's so simple it is a wonder no-one has thought of it before”, I reply, "Someone probably has, it’s just they did nothing about it".
After building the first prototype I recognised that I may have had an innovative design worth protecting. So in July 2009 I prepared and filed a Provisional Patent to protect my intellectual property before revealing the design and having prototype components
manufactured. By July 2010 I had prepared and filed for an International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). I subsequently received a very favourable report enabling me to enter the ‘national phase’, the process of applying for a patents in a number of countries. I have patents granted on the cutting board in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and United States. In addition I have patents granted in New Zealand and Australia on a coupling technology which partners with the food cutting boards, forming the basis of an innovative, simple and affordable food preparation system.
A range of assistive kitchen tools utilising the coupling are currently in development.
Absolutely nothing, Cibocal is a word I made up.
I don’t think you needed to be Steve Jobs to foresee the future of mobile technology and its ability to search information from a device we carry in our pocket (or on our wrist now). Appreciating the potential and not having a lot of money to spend on marketing, I created a brand that has a unique online presence and set about securing it on global sites spanning my target countries. Marketing ‘gurus’ told me years ago I’d got it wrong,“Graham, you can't pronounce it”. I said, "You don’t need to be able to, Google it and you will find us, no-one else". Every Cibocal product is branded with the Cibocal logo for this reason. See it - like it - find it, simple!
f you do want to tell your friends about Cibocal it’s pronounced… ceb.oh.cal
Cibocal helps you chop veggies even if you have dexterity issues. Home cooks with hand dexterity issues can now chop vegetables with ease using the Cibocal cutting board …
Instruction sheet with drilling template included with each bar kit.
It’s all about mobile devices. The propeller heads are saying 90% of us will own a smartphone and 78% a tablet by 2018. The population is ageing and our eyes aren't getting any better. I'm predicting big things for Specsavers.
Our old website was also showing its age. This new site …