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The Communicator


Alumnus earns patent for briefcase design that features removable sides

Eric Polins ('93)

A profile of Eric Polins and a rendering of his briefcase design

With an entrepreneurial mindset and a passion for individual expression, one Penn State alumnus is bringing change to the classic work wardrobe.

Eric Polins has introduced the first briefcase with interchangeable panels. Currently deemed “Better Briefcase” or “BB” by Polins, the briefcase will do more than just store items.

“Individuality is celebrated more than ever, which is great to see,” Polins said. He hopes his patented innovative briefcase design will provide another outlet for personal expression in the professional context.

The idea for the briefcase came to Polins when he ran into an issue with a briefcase from his wife, Maria; he could only use the expensive brown leather work accessory when he wore brown shoes to match. Curious to find a solution for days when he wanted to wear black, Polins sought alternatives on the market and found none that did what he needed.

The solution was clear. He would create the briefcase himself.

While entrepreneurship can be an intimidating pursuit to many, Polins’ belief that failure makes you stronger led him through the long trial-and-error process required for obtaining a patent.

After roughly three years of research and the enlistment of a local patent attorney, Polins saw his innovation and persistence rewarded when he received U.S. Patent #10,070,709 in early 2019. A smaller briefcase with swappable panels on both sides, Polins said the design is ideal for anyone, from millennials to baby boomers, who are looking to differentiate themselves.

His new approach looks to address the “stuffiness of the old man’s briefcase” — bringing about fashionable change to an accessory that has seemingly been around forever.

A managing partner at HCP Associates and the 2017 recipient of the Silver Medal by The American Advertising Federation, Polins will utilize more than 25 years of experience in advertising and marketing to help deliver the Better Briefcase to the world.

He will also draw on his skills as a professional artist and author, along with various experiences in the Florida motion picture industry to bring his patent to life.

“I’ve kind of always been into many different trades,” Polins said, also mentioning the influence of his entrepreneurial older brother (Greg) and his mother (Anna), an illustrator. “Entrepreneurship has always been in my blood.”

Polins is currently pursuing potential licensing agreements to get the patent into production. He is in the process of prospecting with local business people and licensors.

The Better Briefcase is just one of Polins’ many successes. The former U.S. Marine, who earned his Penn State journalism degree in 1993, also serves on various boards of directors and was named second place in Ogilvy’s 2010 “Greatest Sales Person in the World” competition at the Cannes Lions Festival.

Originally from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Polins lives with his wife and two sons, Lacher, 6, and Zane, 11, in South Tampa, Florida. Drawing from his own experiences working in various industries and traveling to six continents, Polins said he is constantly finding new ways to help his sons gain an understanding for art, culture and different life experiences.

This philosophy of appreciating differences and celebrating individuality comes back to the Better Briefcase, too. “It doesn’t matter your background,” Polins said of his universal design. “As long as you celebrate being different, this is for you.”

Design samples and more information about the Better Briefcase may be found online.