We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Christina Nicholson”, Executive Director of the Nicosia- Cyprus based start-up “D-Tangle”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
I am the executive director of Laid back Life Ltd and the founder of its first product D-Tangle. D-Tangle is an innovative, patented gadget first of its kind. Users can place their existing set of earbuds inside it and automatically unwind them – as simple as that!
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Company has been founded in October 2014 and currently we are at a stage trying to find distributors/ retailed to supply D-Tangle in international markets.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our business model is to supply D-Tangle to distributors/ retailed in international markets. We prefer to do the manufacturing ourselves (having good partnerships with a factory in India but also in China) and then sell D-Tangle to retailers/ distributors. But of course we do not eliminate also the potential of
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
My team consists of 5 people. Me who is the founder and executive director of thecompany, my dad who is the CFO and manages all financial issues, my marketeer who is a close friend of mine and is responsible for all advertising actions for D-Tangle, my engineer who i was referred to and is from India; he is the person responsible behind the technology of D-Tangle. Last but not least, my lawyer who is responsible for all IP rights of D-Tangle.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
D-Tangle’s uniqueness lies in its automated mechanism. It is able to accommodate almost all brands of earbuds like iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, Sennheiser etc. By the press of a switch, D-Tangle automatically unwinds the cable of the earbuds – as simple as that. Because of its innovation, we have applies for an international utility patent and are currently patent pending.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We are still at the very beginning since we have just received our patent pending. We are talking with a company in the US where we will do an advertising clip and show it on ‘As Seen on Tv’ platform. We will do a one week test marketing and if feedback is positive we will continue with an order for the US market. We are also looking for distributors/ retailers in other countries as well.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
My competitors are the Zipbuds, iCoil, Tangle and similar products that are used for detangling earphones. However, our competitive advantage lies in the fact of D-Tangle’s automated mechanism and that users can place their existing set of earphones and automatically unwind them!
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle was to find the correct spring in its internal mechanism that could allow minimum 18 turns for the cable to unwind inside the product. At the same time I didnt want to make the product too big so for consumers to find it appealing. After a few months of searching for the right spring and not finding it on any shelve we decided to manufacture our own and so we did!
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Its automated mechanism and the uniqueness of its spring. Outsiders need to understand that D-Tangle is only the beginning and that the existing mechanism will also be used in the future for bigger cables like TV cables, charger cables, DJ booths cables etc.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Because I believe in my product and will never give up. I once talked to someone who is now really successful – he was 17 yrs old when he started his own business of selling bike parts to wholesalers and is now the owner of one of the biggest supply stores of bike parts in the world. He told me that if I truly believe in my product and never give up then success is just around the corner.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Except the fact that I will produce bigger D-Tangles for bigger cablers I already thought of my next idea and I think it will be huge. It needs a lot of R&D but with the right budget it is doable. It had to do with the retail sector and security tags but I cant say anything more.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Because I was really getting irritated with my tangled earbuds! One day I was going to the gym and in my backpack I had my iPod’s earbuds and my cellphone’s earbuds; when I tried getting them out of my backpack they were so tangled between them that I almost broke one. It was then when I was like – I had enough of this and I need to invent something user friendly but efficient for this irritating problem!
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
That success doesn’t come overnight. You need persistence, patience and strategic planning. Oh, and also money! I started doing D-Tangle thinking it would not cost me a lot of cash but in the process I saw that you need a certain amount of budget for the R&D part and the IP (intellectual property) rights! So if you don’t have the money an investor is a MUST!
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Have no idea – I wont say a problem but I will say my manufacturing process will definitely be a big challenge as I haven’t gave it a try yet. So far I have only done some prototypes and haven’t even scratched the molding process yet. So I think with my first order I will face my first big challenge.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Their earbuds will not get tangled anymore – hence they wont break or deteriorate! Users will be able to place their earbuds inside D-Tangle and keep them there forever; then they will be able to unwind their earbuds as they please. Also, D-Tangle comes in five different colors so users will be able to have one D-Tangle for their cellphone earbuds, another D-Tangle for their iPod’s earbuds etc.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Website, twitter and facebook page. D-Tangle is not on the market yet. I also did an Indiegog campaign and paid some PR agencies to promote D-Tangle in various websites – maybe that also helped!
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
None still but my targeted market are all people using earbuds. But I would say my targeted market are people from 16 years of age until 60 years of age.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We have to wait and see but I reckon users/customers that will want to try D-Tangle are the ones who get really frustrated by their tangled earbuds! I know lots of people who came up to me are looking to buy this product because every day they get really irritated by their tangled earbuds.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
So far the feedback I got is really positive and they really want to buy the product! They say is really user friendly (which was really important to me building this product), it is light so they can place it in their pockets, bags or even clip it on their T-Shirts. Also it is really pretty on the outside and has color variation so customers can pick according to their liking.
20. How are you going to scale?
One country at a time. I first want to see how the test marketing in the States will unfold and if it succeeds I will try to include D-Tangle in many big retailers in USA first.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Nothing yet. They didn’t say that something is missing as I made sure I also include the removing clip feature. This means that D-Tangle comes with a removable clip where users can clip it on their T-Shirts, belts, pockets etc.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes internationalization is the goal here. I will take one country at a time. Either trying to contact distributors/ retailers in each country directly or attend important trade shows that will help my networking.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
HOPE REALLY BIG! One step at a time and with the right connections of course. I want to meet key players in the distribution/ retailing channels so they will be able to help me with my product. I love to travel so I don’t mind traveling in order to meet people up close and complete important meetings up close.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Not at the time being but if the company starts bringing money then the first people I will employ is one business developer and marketeers. I believe marketing has always been a really important asset in any company and I do believe that with the right advertising techniques one is able to brainwash people to love a certain product. If the product is good of course!
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are open to all suggestions if there will be a win/win scenario. My company has so far been self-sustainable but I know that If I want to grow this company on a bigger scale I will definitely need help, even if this means from investors or partnering with key players. All my contact details are in our website: www.d-tangled.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Never give up – sky is the limit. What distinguishes a real entrepreneur from a blubber mouth is his/her ability to actually do make something into a reality than just leave it there hanging as an idea. 1% is inspiration and 99%is perspiration. You just need to have the guts to make your dream into a reality. But always with strategic planning.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Anything is possible if you just believe. Many people will tackle your ideas by saying that it is not possible or to get a grip and leave in reality. So many times I heard people saying to me to land on my feet and not be a dreamer. But what I say to them is that I will never surrender to a mediocre life or to a routine. Routine kills the meaning of life and I will never surrender to society.