The Kickstarter video that helped kick things off.
The Original Leather Handle for iPad was created on a whim, first out of a file folder and later out of leather.
Inventor Cate Vincent, one of the exhibitors at the 2012 DaVinci Inventor Showcase, is no stranger to the inventor realm. In fact, this is her 15th startup! Innovation and creativity course through her veins on every level. Recently she took some time to answer a few questions about how a granny could create a solution for an iPad, the dilemma of naming her product and how Apple actually created her product market for her…
The simple design is part of its genius.
What was the defining moment that led you to create this product? What problem does it solve?
That’s best answered by a recent article in the Boston Globe:
FROM ZERO TO APPLE IN FOUR WEEKS! Granny designs solution for iPad
Cate Vincent, a grandmother, was reading in bed on her iPad last month, when it slipped from her hands, and fell on her face. Four weeks later, she was sitting in a glass conference room at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.
“They invited me to Apple when they heard what I did next; grab pinking shears and a plastic file folder, make a few cuts, slip in my iPad, and begin a brand new business the next day, making gorgeous soft leather handles which keep iPads safe and secure – THE ORIGINAL LEATHER HANDLE FOR IPAD.”
She says, “I’d just read the new book about Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and was filled with admiration for what Steve Jobs did in that first garage where they designed the world-changing Apple computers.” She leans forward and continues, “Shhh… I think Steve Jobs would approve of my handle for his beloved iPad. It makes it so… well, useable and elegant, and that’s what he loved.”
“I had to start this business, she said, “I just couldn’t help it… Anyone who has to hold an ipad in the course of a day, loves this handle… whether reading aloud, checking patient notes, showing new ideas to students, reading on the bus, train or plane… the list goes on and on.”
At Apple headquarters they encouraged her to get her handle to market, and pledged their help in many ways. When she returned home, she and a master leather crafter, Tim Kennedy, put everything into place to go into full production mode.
Grandpa Vincent raided his savings account to buy enough leather for a first run. So many orders have come in that they’ve now begun a production line in Florida and in England for European orders.
“Each person is really in charge of his own life. We can be anything we want to be. And now, nearing 70, I want to be an entrepreneur!” Granny Vincent says, and adds, “Why don’t you just go to ‘theleatherhandle.com'”, with an entrepreneur’s glint in her eye.
After you came up with the idea, how did you size up the market and decide who your customers would be?
Happily, Apple did that for us, by selling their fabulous iPad to over 60 million customers.
How did you go about naming your product?
That’s still a dilemma… sure would be open to suggestions… we’ve simply tried everything we could think of, and then decided just to describe what it is and what it does, thus, the Original Leather Handle for iPad.
How long did it take you to create you initial prototype, and what problems did you run into along the way?
5 minutes. Then refining the design took 2 hours. After 1000 items sold, we’re still using the same design.
Funding a new idea is always tricky. How did you go about lining up the money you needed?
I’m a believer in making one, selling it, using the profit to make two, selling them, and on and on, which is exactly what we’ve done, with the exception of raiding a small savings account, since leather can only be bought in large hides.
Is this a product you’d like to produce and sell yourself, or are you wanting to license it to someone else? And if so, who?
There are some nights when I’d give the whole business away to the milkman. Then there are the moments when I think it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in all my life. Somewhere in between those two is simply trying to do what’s best for the product, and the customers, who really need what we make. If someone else could produce and sell it better than I, I’d consider selling or licensing it to him.
What all channels are you using to market your product?
Publicity, social media, national sales force.
How many people do you currently have involved in your business?
How do you define success? What would hitting a “home run” look like in your mind?
Just picture this: I’m sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight, and the guy next to me pulls out his iPad with MY handle on it… that’s what I’m working night and day for, what I’ve given up sleep for, what I’ve worried over, and cried over, and prayed over; to see my idea helping others…
Where do people go to find out more about your product?