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John Antignane: “Know what you are good at”

…For me, it was the fact that I was honestly always grossed out at the thought of what could possibly be on the coffee lids. What if someone had not washed their hands properly before fitting it on? I was bound and determined to find a device that could securely fit on a lid so […]

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…For me, it was the fact that I was honestly always grossed out at the thought of what could possibly be on the coffee lids. What if someone had not washed their hands properly before fitting it on? I was bound and determined to find a device that could securely fit on a lid so no coffee would drip out while you were drinking it, and to do so in a very hygienic manner a well.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing John Antignane.

John Antignane is the founder of The LidGrabber. A patented, groundbreaking, and innovative solution designed to support both self-serve and full-service coffee environments. It provides” SECURITY” a healthier way to seal lids to coffee cups, “ SAFETY” eliminating hand-to-lid contact, “SATISFACTION” customers will walk away pleased know their coffee order is LidGrabber safe. It’s a low-cost simple device that conforms to most lids available at major retail coffee shops.

John’s mission is to have the LidGrabber in every coffee shop and revolutionize the way businesses serve coffee by showing customers they matter and to raise awareness among consumers to expect nothing less.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for having me. I’ve always considered inventing to be one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given me. I’ve just always had this habit where I’m looking for problems and easier ways to solve those problems than have already been invented. Perhaps my first notable achievement was when I helped work on custom made radio case in November 22 1963, which tragically happened to be the same day that President John Kennedy had been shot.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Hmm, well in the 1980s I devised Christmas gift bank on wheels for each of our corporate customers. I asked a toy company who had a wooden armored truck to have the truck modified by drilling holes at the top rear part of the truck, enabling it to hold coin tubes that I invented. These are the same plastic reusable coin tubes that you see today. They are a wonderful learning tool for kids to count and save their money.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

You need to know (and feel) what you were made to do. Like I said, I’ve always had a passion and a knack for finding better solutions for common, everyday problems. I was good at it, and I’ve enjoyed doing it through the many inventions that I’ve made throughout my career. By pursuing something that you are both good at and enjoy, it makes life a lot more fulfilling.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

My favorite invention, or my big idea that I hope will change the world, is called the LidGrabber. Over ten years ago, I walked into a fast food restaurant. I noticed this rather peculiar device being used to put lids over coffee cups. When I inquired about this device to the manager of the restaurant, he just said that it was a part of the franchise. Personally, I don’t like lids because I’m honestly a bit grossed out at what I think might be lurking on top of the lid.

That’s when I began thinking about a device that could fit coffee lids over seventy different sizes of coffee cups. I just didn’t want people to be grossed out by coffee lids anymore like I was. I’m always turned off when I see somebody handle a coffee lid, because who knows if they washed their hands or not.

How do you think this will change the world?

I collected many different kinds of coffee lids, and worked via email with Louise Harpman, who has the largest collection in the entire world (she’s a professor over at New York University).

In her words, as I think she explains it best:

“The LidGrabber solves a problem you might not even know you have. Except you do! Imagine this scenario: You order your cup of hot coffee to go. The barista gives you the cup of coffee. Either they or you put a coffee lid on top. But the lid does not hold firm to the side of the cup. When you go to drink through the lid, the coffee dribbles out the side, or what is worse, the whole lid “pops off” because it was not fully attached in the first place. Mess? Yes. Burn? Possibly. Avoidable? Yes. The LidGrabber is a new, easy to use product that promotes a positive lock between the cup and coffee lid. The LidGrabber also keeps (possibly dirty) hands away from the lid itself. You know, the one you’re about to drink through.”

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

People may think that it’s not really necessary, because they can just put the lid on themselves or they may not even care about potential germs on the lid in the first place. But I think that when they begin to use the device for themselves, they will begin to see its practical uses.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

For me, it was the fact that I was honestly always grossed out at the thought of what could possibly be on the coffee lids. What if someone had not washed their hands properly before fitting it on? I was bound and determined to find a device that could securely fit on a lid so no coffee would drip out while you were drinking it, and to do so in a very hygienic manner a well.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Simply the material resources and endorsements from enough coffee shops! I have lobbied the local Board of Health to make proper handling of coffee lids a part of the health inspection checklist. I said forks, spoons, knives, straws, and toothpicks are protected with paper wraps around all of them, but nothing around coffee lids. Coffee lids are a big germ avenue. This should be addressed especially in these times of COVID-19.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Number one, know what you are good at. I knew from a very young age that I was skilled at finding practical solutions to common problems. Two, know what you enjoy doing. I was fortunate enough to enjoy what I was good at. Three, always find people who can help you in whatever it is you need to accomplish. I was fortunate to receive a great review from Louise Harpman after she tested the LidGrabbers. Fourth, persevere! I came up with this idea back in 2009, and here in 2020 I’m still here working on it and making headway! Fifth and finally, enjoy life along the way. Focus on your goals and what you want to achieve, but don’t ignore or miss out on the small things.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

So long as you are both very skilled at something and passionate about or enjoy it, you’ll find the drive that you need to accomplish anything.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Imagine this scenario: You order your cup of hot coffee to go. Either the barista or you put a coffee lid on top. But the lid does not hold firm to the side of the cup. When you go to drink through the lid, the coffee dribbles out the side, or what is worse, the whole lid “pops off” because it was not fully attached in the first place. Mess? Yes. Burn? Possibly. Avoidable? Yes. The LidGrabber is a new, easy to use product that promotes a positive lock between the cup and coffee lid. The LidGrabber also dirty hands away from the lid itself. You know, the one you’re about to drink through.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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