They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that holds true in the case of the ShotgunR, a tool designed by a Southold engineer for shotgunning a can of beer.
Inventor Sam Notaro, 26, explains, “I was drinking on a beach with a bunch of my engineering buddies and thought, there’s got to be a better way to shotgun a beer.”
For those who are unfamiliar: Shotgunning a beer involves poking a hole in the side of a beer can—with a key, or whatever is on hand—then popping the top open so the beer flows out the hole and down the drinker’s gullet. (For instructions, watch John Cusack in The Sure Thing.)
Notaro found that making a shotgunning hole that is just the right size, and free of sharp edges, was difficult to achieve. As an engineer—he holds a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—he began working on a product that could safely and efficiently create the perfect hole every time. After dozens of prototypes, he arrived at the ShotgunR.
“It is designed by an engineer to be the best shotgunning device there is, but it also opens bottles and it fits and on your keychain as well,” Notaro says.
He is now up to prototype number 42, and is happy with what he’s got.
The ShotgunR is primarily made of plastic, through a process called injection molding. A stainless steel piece allows it to also open bottles.
It was imporant to Notaro that ShotgunR be made entirely on Long Island, so he is working with Midbury Industries in Freeport to manufacture it.
In order to bring ShotgunR to market, Notaro has turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. He is seeking $10,000 to fund the first run.
Notaro is also an actor—he played the titular character in North Fork Community Theatre’s recent production of The Boy Friend—so he and his theater friends have created a number of humorous promotional videos for the Kickstarter campaign. Many include pirates—because pirates say “RRRRRRrrrr.”
He had planned to call the product the Shotgunner, but that spelling was trademarked by an earplug maker. He did his due diligence to make sure he did not infringe anyone else’s trademark or patent, conducting a thorough “prior art” search through the U.S. Patent Office.
There are other shotgunning tools, but Notaro says his design and choice of materials are unique, as well as the way it works. “It’s plastic, so it’s not going to cut you in your pants pocket,” he says, but it is also sharp enough to puncture a can, bending the sides of the hole into the shape of a triangle.
A single ShotgunR is $7 for Kickstarter backers, but a limited amount of “early bird” specials are still available for $5. A $10 pledge gets two ShotgunRs, a $23 pledge gets five and a $40 pledge gets 10.
“It’s a great stocking stuffer,” Notaro says.
Other pledge levels include rewards such as ShotgunR branded beer koozies and T-shirts. For a business—or just someone throwing an epic party—a $1,000 pledge will get 500 ShotgunRs with custom-printed logos. And for $10,000, Notaro will fly anywhere in the world to shotgun beers with the backer and bring 1,000 custom ShotgunRs.
As of Wednesday, Notaro is more than 25% of the way to his goal, with 17 days left. If he does not get a total of $10,000 in pledges before the December 7, 2:54 p.m. deadline, his project won’t receive any of the money—Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing game.
Originally, Notaro planned to only ship within the U.S., but one of the first comments he received on the project was, “Hey, we like to shotgun beer in Australia too!” He has since added Australia, France, England and Sweden to the shipping options.
Find the ShotgunR project at kickstarter.com.