Our Story 2016-10-13T19:34:14+00:00

JB-photo

Take one designer and add an iPad; the story of Plinth

My name is John Bull,  I’m a Product Designer from Somerset in the UK.

“I bought my first iPad in 2010 and immediately fell in love with its sleek, lightweight design. To carry such a useful computer with me everywhere was a game-changer, and I also loved the touchscreen interface; sketching, exploring the internet and playing games instantly became so much more…. connecting.

Then I started looking for something to stand it on…..”

The perfect stand…

?

  • Will hold your tablet STILL while you work – especially while typing.
  • Provides a comfortable angle for typing, with a clear view of the screen. On different tables and desks, this angle varies.
  • Doesn’t add bulk or clutter. I personally favour a thin, light case for protection. I don’t like fold over covers – I want my tablet to be a tablet: as simple and elegant as possible.
  • Is as small and light as possible – easy to keep with me always.
  • It must be as fast and easy to set up as possible – preferably single handed.

Searching for a stand

2010-11
I tried all sorts of cases, covers and stands, but didn’t find any one which protected and was nice to hold; stands didn’t give the right angles, and/or were fiddly to set up.

I use a 3D printer for my work, so I thought I’d build something simple – which would fit in my pocket and hold my iPad nice and stable at the right angle for working.”

But to make something truly stable AND small turned out to be not so easy….

Could I make one better?

2012-2013
In between working on other projects, it took nearly two years of trying different ideas, building and testing models, before I was happy I’d got it right.

Having applied for a patent, I sought to license the design with a big manufacturer, but no one seemed very keen to see my design.

Things were at a standstill until a friend told me about Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website.

Maybe, I should go it alone?

Asking the world for help

Jan-March 2014
My first Kickstarter campaign failed (not enough promotion), so I went back to the drawing board and did some more reading and sent prototypes to the US for reviews.

Re-launched in mid February, by the end of March we had shot past our target of £19,000 to raise £32,000 (the figure I actually needed). The most exciting aspect was the enthusiasm of my backers; their support carried me through some very dark times filled with anxiety and doubt.

However, we were in business.

Made in the UK

April-September 2014
For the first time in my career, this was my project and I could do things how I wanted. So to make the moulds I chose a British toolmaker with whom I had worked for over 20 years. He offered a price competitive with China.

As well as aspects such as project control and wanting to support UK manufacturing, I have ethical concerns about manufacturing in China.

Although we had a number of setbacks, by September we were ready for production.

Launching to the world

September 2014
Plinth was launched at the Autumn Gift Fair at Birmingham’s NEC. Getting everything designed, finished, assembled, and packaged in time was a race to the finish!

The learning curves and obstacles throughout this project have been immense; sleepless nights, spiralling debt and uncertainty whether this was a good idea prevented life ever becoming mundane!

Plinth was really well received at the show and attracted lots of interest. However landing ‘the big order’ still eluded us. It was time to learn a new skill – how to sell.

Making customers happy

2015 - 2016
Shows like Dragon’s Den and stories about crowdfunding overnight successes give the impression that a good idea will guarantee success. My experience has been very different.

Throughout all the challenges, however, has been the enthusiasm of my customers. Take a moment to look at the customer reviews page and you’ll see what I mean.

I owe them everything.