YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS — Nathan Zavaleta, 24, left and Alex Smith, 18, hold their Hex Flex, a handy multi-tool used for snowboarding and bicycles. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene


Duo design multi-purpose sport tool

By From page A9 | December 27, 2013

Nate Zavaleta has been snowboarding most of his life.

“My mom got me a board (as a kid), and that’s how I developed,” said Zavaleta, 24.

The Placerville resident is always prepared when he hits the slopes in case he has to tighten his snowboard or skis.

One day while researching on how to make a specific tool for adjusting snowboards and skis on —a Website that is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects — Zavaleta came up with a design that molds into this time of year.

“I’ve been following Kickstarter, and many projects on Kickstarter, for a long time,” Zavaleta said. “I know people are creating tools and stuff. I really enjoy working on my computer. I always wanted a tool to tighten bindings. I never want to carry around a screwdriver.”

Zavaleta and one of his friends, Alex Smith, came up with a design that’s perfect for this time of year. It can also be used during the spring, summer and fall months.

Enter the Hex Flex, an everyday multi-tool featuring a mini-knife, screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver and three allen wrenches that are 4, 5 and 6 millimeters. Zavaleta and Smith created the Website—

“Those are standard sizes,” Zavaleta said.”It’s like a swiss-Army knife. It’s a go-to kind of tool. As we progressed, people suggested different types of tools. I saw the snowflake design and was interested in creating based off that. I really like the unibody because there’s nothing to lose. I was really interested in creating a unique looking tool.”

Zavaleta and Smith, a Union Mine High School senior, received suggestions from family and friends, plus pitching their idea on the Kickstarter Website.

“One of those suggestions was make a tool for bicycles,” Zavaleta said. “That’s where the allen wrenches come into the picture. This would be idea for bicyclists.”

Zavaleta and Smith went through several different 3D designs and sketches before creating the prototype.

“It developed from there,” Zavaleta said.

Zavaleta and Smith said they have about 3,000 orders for the Hex Flex, and they were scheduled for delivery in time for Christmas. They estimated that they have registered more than 50 hours working on their project.

“We’ve been tweaking, modifying our project,” Zavaleta said.

The Hex Flex can be carried everywhere.

“You put it on a key chain,” Zavaleta said.

Smith, 18, has been shooting video and editing video of the Hex Flex that was uploaded onto their Website.

“It’s been a lot of fun participating,” Smith said. “I love seeing how it’s developed. I’ve been helping in any way I can.”

Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter. 

Mike Bush

Mike Bush has been a Staff Writer at the Mountain Democrat since August 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MBushMtDemo
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