Snapshot 06/04

Orlando Robinson, 31, founder of D&D Innovations in Southfield, Michigan
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Description: Manufacturer of the Seatbelt Shifter Lock and provider of technical, electronic and engineering support to the automotive industry

Startup: $5,000 in April 2000

2004 projected sales: $1.5 million

A silver lining: In 1997, and his fiancée, Dionyell Walton, were ejected from their car in a fatal accident that claimed her life and changed the course of his. Since then, Robinson has focused on one objective: to create and distribute Seatbelt Shifter Lock, a device that prevents cars from being shifted into gear until the seat belts are buckled. Says Robinson, "I developed a technology to prevent other families from going through what we went through."

Driven to Succeed: A former law student and restaurant co-owner, Robinson had no automotive or engineering experience. Yet he persisted in turning his idea into a reality, creating it from his garage. With a goal of selling the device to auto manufacturers who would then provide it in their vehicles, he garnered exposure and support by displaying the Seatbelt Shifter Lock at fleet shows. He has also talked to community members, including legislators, congresspeople and senators. Currently, Robinson is negotiating with GM to offer the technology as an option for all the company's vehicles.

Unexpected Outcome: At one time, the automobile industry held no special significance for Robinson; now his life is defined by it. D&D Innovations continues to bring in profits by building prototypes for others in the industry, providing Robinson with the support he needs to complete his personal mission.

"I knew a long time ago I was going to start my own business and work for myself, and I feel blessed to be able to do that," he explains. "I really feel I'm doing what God has ordained me to do: save people's lives."

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