By Michael Hinkelman
Philadelphia Daily News.
VANESSA Z. CHAN, 42, of Queen Village, is founder & chief designer of re.design, a business she started in January 2015. Chan, a former consultant for McKinsey & Co. and a materials-science engineer, designed loopit as a practical solution for tangled earbuds.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: I was a consultant for 14 years and co-led McKinsey’s innovation practice in Philadelphia. There were lots of problems for consumers but no great solutions. I had an “a-ha!” moment: What if I actually solved some consumer gripes I had? So I left corporate America and I came up with this idea for loopit, my first product.
Q: The start-up money?
A: I used personal savings. One of the biggest spends I have is paying a patent attorney. I have both design and utility patents pending for loopit.
Q: What is loopit and the inspiration for it?
A: When I was a consultant, I was constantly on the phone and needed my earbuds on. I’d reach into my bag to grab the earbuds and they were always tangled in knots and took several minutes to untangle. I read scientific papers about how knots form. I designed magnetic clasps that prevent earbuds from tangling. One set is built in near the earbuds and the other set is built in near the audio jack. There’s also a built-in microphone so users can answer calls while on the go. loopit can be worn by women as a stylish necklace or used by men as a black leather-like cord that can be stuffed in a pocket.
Q: The value prop?
A: With loopit, your earbuds almost never tangle when clasped. So it makes you more productive because you’re not spending multiple minutes per day untangling earbuds.
Q: How is the biz model going to work?
A: I launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign Jan. 26 with a fund-raising goal of $15,000, which will allow me to pre-buy inventory. Early backers of loopit on Kickstarter are pre-ordering and get it at a discount. (As of 6 p.m. Sunday, with 24 days remaining in her campaign, Chan had raised more than $14,500 from 173 backers.) Right now, I have a contract manufacturer in China. If Kickstarter succeeds, I want to bring loopit to market by May. Last November, I pitched to QVC at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Post-Kickstarter, I plan to sell loopit for $50 via my website and, if it works out, through QVC.
Q: Potential customers?
A: They are women on the go, and/or working women. Moms pushing a stroller or women on a conference call who need their hands free. Men on a mobile phone a lot can find loopit useful.
Q: How big a biz?
A: It’s me and another woman helping with bookkeeping, paperwork, marketing.