Lisa Glover, '13, ’14G, founder of KitRex, poses with her prototype dinosaurs on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Glover has expanded her company to include six different dinosaur models. (Emily Hu/B&W Photo)

Dino World: How one Lehigh Alum turned a dinosaur costume into a puzzle company

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A 6-foot-tall paper velociraptor walked in to Lamberton Hall in the midst of a Halloween party and the room fell silent. While the music still played in the background, Lisa Glover, ‘13, ‘14G, the girl inside the paper dinosaur, realized there was a room full of people staring at her — or at least at her dinosaur, named Soarin.

Two years, two Kickstarter campaigns and thousands of paper dinosaurs later, Glover remembers how her professors from the technical entrepreneurship program pushed her to turn her giant costume dinosaur into a 3-foot-tall paper velociraptor puzzle she calls KitRex.

Brian Slocum, the manager of Wilbur Powerhouse and Design Shops, said after the Halloween party, Glover didn’t know what to do with her paper dinosaur, so he offered to hang it up in Wilbur Powerhouse, where it still hangs today. This conversation led him to ask her what she was going to do next. When she said nothing, he told her she had to do something with the dinosaurs because everyone had loved it.

The entire line of KitRex dinosaurs on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Lisa Glover, ’14, has expanded her company to include six different model dinosaurs. (Emily Hu/B&W Photo)

The entire line of KitRex dinosaurs on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. Lisa Glover, ’13, ’14G, has expanded her company to include six different model dinosaurs. (Emily Hu/B&W Photo)

“I thought it was ridiculous, I mean, who is going to want paper dinosaurs?” Glover said.

A lot of people, apparently.

Glover’s project started to gain attention with her original Kickstarter, in which she introduced her paper velociraptor puzzle. She wanted to raise $8,000 and manufacture around 400 velociraptor dinosaur kits as rewards for donating. She ended up raising over $100,000 and manufacturing over 7,000 velociraptor kits.

Now she is working on the manufacturing process for her pterodactyl paper puzzle, using funds she obtained through her second successful Kickstarter campaign. This time around, she wanted to raise $10,000, and ended with a total of $30,000.

“You never know where something will go,” she said. “I never expected this to turn into a company.”

Slocum recalled Glover as an undergraduate, and said that seeing her go from student to businesswoman has been something special.

“It’s been great watching how the success of her Kickstarter campaign really bolstered her self-esteem,” Slocum said. “And later watching her react to that and becoming Lisa has been pretty awesome.”

Glover said although only the original velociraptor model is out to the public and the pterodactyl model is currently being manufactured to be sent out to Kickstarter donors, she has designed prototypes to make four different additional dinosaurs, each having different difficulty levels to assemble.

She is trying to get the newer versions of her puzzles into stores like Target, Barnes & Noble and Toys ‘R’ Us by next fall.

Michael Lehman, a professor of practice in the Baker Institute, taught Glover in technical entrepreneurship classes and has mentored her through her KitRex development. Lehman described Glover as “intensely creative and doggedly determined.”

Slocum identified Glover’s tenacity, ability to continuously evolve, learn from her mistakes, and face problems in her way.

“Even after the Kickstarter campaign had been successful, all along the way there were these hurdles that kept getting thrown up,” Slocum said. “Like nobody (being able to) die cut (the kit) because it was too complicated and nobody taking her seriously as a woman who was trying to get things made.

“She had to jump over all these things and I think some of it threw her on a loop but in the end she just persevered.”

Glover said she learned from her mistakes by getting a lot of user feedback. Her original velociraptor model used glue dots for assembly, but she quickly realized those were difficult to manage. The next prototypes were designed with tabs.

Since then, all of her subsequent dinosaur prototypes are assembled without any additional materials — except for the dinosaur googly eyes.

Both Slocum and Glover said the business side of things has not been her forte.

“She’s definitely business person second, geeky designer first,” Slocum said of Glover, who describes herself as a “googly-eyed connoisseur,” after her dinosaur’s distinctive feature.

Even though she said she struggles with business aspects, Glover said her job is the perfect balance between art and business. It seems to be working, though, as she said she’s never been asked for a product return.

These intersecting sides of her identity, the designer and the business woman, are present in her small, but decorated office, which is full of colorful dinosaur prototypes and posters detailing her new business model and what her company stands for.

She hopes to expand her products to more than just dinosaurs by introducing a variety of wildlife animals once her dinosaurs become more popular and commercial.

Glover can pick a favorite dinosaur, but only from the colorful array of prototypes around the room. That’s because the real things, she said with a laugh, she was never really into.

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