CREATE WHAT YOU WISH EXISTED…
When Obi’s Co-Founder and CEO, Jon Dekar, was a teenager, his grandfather, a Navy Veteran, was diagnosed with a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Over the next few years, he slowly lost the use of his arms. During this time, Jon witnessed his grandfather’s frustration in being fed by others. As the disease progressed, Jon observed how much his grandfather disliked being fed by a caregiver.
2016: Jon works at his desk in Dayton, Ohio following product launch of Obi.
Jon’s grandfather, who struggled to eat independently towards the end of his life.
1998: Jon (9) with Grandfather, Carl, and sister Rachel Dekar (6). Background: Jon and Rachel’s mother and grandmother.
What was once an enjoyable experience was now physically and emotionally stressful. He was no longer able to select the food he wanted or control the pace at which he ate.
Jon also volunteered in nursing homes and hospitals while in high school and observed that his grandfather was not alone – many other individuals were having the same undesirable experience.
During Jon’s first week of engineering school, his professor introduced him to a young girl named Hope. Hope’s mother approached the university’s engineering department and was seeking innovative ways to help her daughter eat with more dignity. Hope’s biggest desire was to not have to eat every meal by putting her face in a plate of food.
These personal experiences sparked Jon’s obsessive pursuit of a solution to a problem that Hope, Jon’s grandfather and millions of others around the world encounter every day.
Jon did some research and was shocked that there was no modern technology on the market that addressed the basic human need of eating for those who are differently-abled. In the 21st century, there had to be a way to facilitate independent self-feeding through the use of technology.
At first, Jon decided to craft a device with wood, rubber bands, Legos and other basic materials to solely help Hope (prototype Alpha), but his attention quickly shifted towards developing a modern, state of the art device.
Hope’s mother and Jon’s engineering professor.
2017: Over 10 years later, we made a visit to Hope to thank her for her inspiration and give her an Obi of her own. Hope, emotional after using Obi for the first time.
Obi's development throughout the years
Upon graduating college, Jon began working full time on developing a feeding device. After over ten years of persistence and overcoming many daunting challenges, Obi is now an award-winning product currently available in 20+ countries and helping thousands of people eat with independence around the globe.
We are a growing small business with a passionate and dedicated team behind every email, phone call and device that goes out our door. All devices are proudly manufactured with the utmost quality and care in our own facility in Jacksonville, Florida USA.
Present day photo of Jon within the 2nd generation Obi production facility in Jacksonville, FL.