Posted in design, entrepreneurial, personal

I invented an automatic hair-cutting catcher

My History as an Inventor

I’ve always loved inventing things.  The main reason is because I like solving problems. I think this is a valuable trait in any entrepreneur.

I remember as a kid in grade 7, I single-handedly built a wooden rollerblading ramp 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 foot high. What was the problem I was trying to solve? Well, apparently that I didn’t have enough bruises and broken bones. The ramp soon took care of that. ;P

Though I didn’t say all my inventions solved real-world problems, the ones I’m most passionate about do.

I’m an Engineer – I solve problems

Take this problem for example:

Vicki, among the other plethora of tasks she’s able to do including sewing her own clothes, hemming my pants, cooking authentic Chinese cuisine, singing like a rock star, sleeping like a baby, making a fart sound cute, actually enjoying baby food, and blinking like a red light, can cut hair. Who would’ve known!

When I found out, I felt like I won the lottery – well, maybe the $10 lottery. Who would’ve guessed that marriage would have so many benefits?!?

However, it soon turned into the MINUS $10 lottery when I found out that cleaning hair out of the washroom sink, wall, bathtub, toilet, behind-the-toilet and in the floor cracks wasn’t really that fun. This was a problem.

I got to thinking, and when I start thinking there’s no telling what might come out.There had to be some way, some solution that was already done, that could catch the hair before it hit the ground, but still allow the barber easy access to the head. I had some large pieces of paper and quickly sketched out a similar idea using the cone technique

1st Prototype – Cone shape

I quickly took some nearby poster paper and tested out my idea of a prototype – the contraption resembled that of a dog cone.

Nevertheless, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have the actual picture to show you.

There were also major problems like:

  • Difficulty removing and wearing the contraption
  • Cutting the neck
  • The barber could not access many spots of hair

2nd Prototype

For my second prototype, I really wanted to build something that fixed the problem of the barber having no space (3 above).

I realized that to let the barber get his hands in there, the contraption  would have to be portable, and the shoulder-area would have to mold along the patient’s chests and shoulders to give the barber more room.

I quickly sketched some ideas on a nearby cardboard paper and began designing.  I solved the problem by making the contraption run along the shoulder, then go deep enough so the Barber can reach from underneath.

I also knew that I would have to make this something easily taken on and off. I solved this by making it so that you can turn the “hat” sideways, and put your head through it. Then rotate it back to the normal position.

And finally, we solved the neck cutting issues simply by putting duck tape along the neck, and a garbage bag.

Here’s the final version in action:

Mack Showing my invention offVicki cutting mack's hair using my invention

What do you think? Would you use it?

Here’s a video of Mackenzie, Vicki’s little sister, taking it for a spin!

Moral to the Story

I think I learned some valuable lessons for my startup.

1) Just because you have a good idea or solution for a problem doesn’t make you a success.

Of course, I was really just doing it cause I had the time to spend with the material around me. But if this were a company, I should have first checked out the competition and seen there are some of these things out there:

I did buy the product shown above, and it works nothing as advertised. So I could try and enter this market, but this would lead to my second lesson:

2) If there’s not much competition in the market it is either a) the unlikely event that you’re the first one in or b) the likely event that others saw it was not profitable enough

How much margin can I really make from selling these? Who cuts their hair at home? Would they want a product like this? Would they want a solution that keep hairs cut from dropping to the ground? That’s where user research and market research would come into play.

Needless to say, I’m most likely not pursuing down the “haircut catcher” road so if anyone wants this idea, its all yours!


Jon Chui (pronounced "chew") has been building iOS/Android apps for the last 7 years, the last 3 working on Google Maps, Inbox by Gmail and Google's Search App. Though he grew up in a Christian family and to parents who would end up giving up their 25 years of hard-earned comforts/affluence in Canada to go back to China as missionaries when he was 14, being a Christian was always in his head, and he would constantly struggle with trying to unify the sacred and the secular - until last year. However, through a radical transformation[] @ work last year (which he can't take ANY credit for), he & his wife & 2 young boys have decided to leave Google, sell/donate everything they have so to serve the poor & marginalized with Jesus’ love as missionaries with's Family DTS in Kona, hawaii then to the Philippines. Read more about their family journey @, and reach out to him @ If you're a recruiter with freelance jobs or have tech projects for jon feel free to reach out to him -

3 thoughts on “I invented an automatic hair-cutting catcher

  1. Being a stay at home mom that like your wife seems to need to do it all -sewing, cooking cleaning and cutting the families hair. I love your invention. I also hate cleaning the hair off of everything in the bathroom. I love you invention!!!!! My hair catcher cape is coming apart we have used it do much and can’t find another one that the shipping doesn’t cost as much as the cape. What website can I go to that sale it in the US?

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