The Rapidian

Fishing and entrepreneurship: Miles Smith and the BAHRS

Miles Smith's unconventional journey to creating The Break Away Hook Release System (B.A.H.R.S)
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(Video by Santiago Murillo)

As a fisherman, Miles Smith thought about a technology that would make fishing (or angling) easier. The Break Away Hook Release System gets only one part of the hardware, the treble hook, to break. The B.A.H.R.S. technology, attached to a crankbait or a spoon lure, is designed in such a way that the lure stays in place as the hook gets released. This mechanism simultaneously takes place as the fishing line reaches a specific tension. Therefore, this innovation is not only user-friendly, but also profitable for anglers, as lures cost much more than hooks. It all started as a concept that Smith presented at an idea pitch competition. It ended up in the top three jury selection. This was the beginning of Smith journey to creating the Break Away Hook Release System (B.A.H.R.S.)

Smith, a twenty-two year-old student at Grand Valley State University, reveals that after being homeschooled, he attended public school in Zeeland his hometown, before moving to Grand Rapids. Smith describes himself as "a Christian, active and with many friends" ever since. Up until today, he is involved in a number of on-campus organizations, among which the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization he presides. More recently, he taught teen entrepreuneurs at GVSU's Summer Academy.

"Through my years in college I saw two passions of mine grow together, both my Christian Faith and fishing." He also reflected on his current situation saying "I am very fortunate to be employed and to get paid to do what I love. Besides, working for this business organization at the University gives me the opportunity to network with business professionals; I might have not been able to connect with these successful people, had I not been involved with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs." Today, he is completing a Marketing and International Business bachelor's degree program. 

Smith admits to his fascination for inventions from an early age. "I though it was the coolest thing ever" he says. For Smith, Invention and Art are very similar in the sense that both are created from an idea, a concept. They also offer a different perspective on existing works. "They are different from the notion of Business as they are more geared toward problem-solving, much more so than sales."

The B.A.H.R.S product resulted from a collaboration and partnership with designers and engineers. When asked where production would take place he answered “Michigan, but we found that it was not competitive against some other international locations. In other words, production pricing was fairly out of budget.“ Then he added “This same information got published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.  Before we knew it, a local manufacturing company was reaching out to us, guaranteeing to us that they were competitive and expressing their interest in working with us.  Even though they ended up being slightly more expensive than planned, we ended up contracting them. We were willing to pay more to have our product made in Michigan. Entrepreneurship is all about being resourceful.”

Smith worked with a team of designers and engineers to come up with the B.A.R.H.S. Its first prototype was "perfected for manufacturing" as quoted. The result is now ready for production, with an eight week lead time followed by testing. Smith will soon meet with the manufacturing company, which itself is quite a step, especially when looking back at how his journey all started. In between now and then, Smith participated in numerous business competitions such as the 2012 Regional Business Plan Competition. Taking part in these events helped him generate seed capital for his limited liability company. Recently his company was awarded $5,000 through the Start Garden. This brand new competition calls entrepreneurs from all cities in the state to present their product or service. Winners are selected based on a voting system.

When asked if he would recommend entrepreneurship, Smith said “Yes, if you’re up for the challenge. However, be careful to maintain your identity while building your own company; it can consume you. Also, sometimes you will feel awesome when successes and victory come along. Other times you will feel awful, like a failure, when everything seems to fall apart. Lastly, the most important thing is to take the first step; write a business plan, follow through and hang on. If you have fun while doing it, you’re on the right track.”

Besides earning his Bachelor's degree and hopefully catching at least one shark with the B.A.H.R.S on ABC network's TV show "Shark Tank", Smith looks to keep on creating, thinking outside the box for future inventions, and all in all live his passion for a long time.

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An interesting historic fact is that in the early 1900s, the modern fishing lure was commercially produced in the United States by the firm of Heddon and Pflueger in Michigan. Today another milestone is being achieved, yet again in Michigan, with this technology breakthrough that is the B.A.H.R.S.