LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Hans Dose, Founder and Designer of Tenikle
LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Many functional designs have been made to solve very simple needs. Tenikle is one of them. Hans Dose sat on the drawing table to create a compact solution that he could use on his car as a smartphone holder. And as a result of the design work that began, Tenikle was born with the functionality that many smartphone and camera owners would want to keep with them. In order to learn more about this Octopus-Inspired Smartphone Affix Solution, I talked to Hans Dose, Founder and Designer of Tenikle.
Hans, before talking about Tenikle could you start by telling us about your background and design experience?
Sure! My background is actually in graphic design and apparel. My professional design career started during my last year of High School for brands Hurley and Billabong which lasted for 9 years until I started my company. I received my first job after creating a clothing line for a fashion design runway show in 2009. Hurley was going to buy a few pieces from that line but instead of being paid for the work, I asked if I could start an internship with them. To my surprise, they gave me a design job instead of starting with graphic tees.
How did Tenikle come from an idea to functional product? What inspired you?
After I received a ticket for looking at my maps while driving, I realized I needed a car mount. But searching all the tech aisles, I found only the same big, bulky, boring, and black mounts flooding the shelves. Not to mention they only served one purpose. I thought, "There's gotta be a way I can use a car mount for all the iPhone photography I do too." So, I decided to draw up some concepts. Growing up surfing and loving the ocean, naturally, I was inspired by octopus and starfish as they seemed like nature's best way to securely affix to anything. So I copied their design to be functional for tech.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in designing and production processes? How did you solve?
I'd say the biggest challenge was developing a production-friendly product with no engineering background that worked well. At first, I thought, "How hard could this be? All it needs is some suction cups and wire." Well, there's a lot of technical aspects to creating a product that is unibody in design, won't break after repeated bending in the same spot, suctions firmly and for long periods of time, and is cost-effective in manufacturing. After thousands of hours of tinkering in my garage and molding my own prototypes, I thought I had the perfect design. But after I spent tens of thousands of dollars tooling the molds and received first samples, I found that the suction cups didn't work as well with the material I was using for prototyping. So we had to re-tool the molds multiple times until we got it right. This was very expensive, in the future, I will test the prototypes with the actual materials we will use in production.
Tenikle looks like an All-in-One solution. What type of usages does it offers?
Yes, it is! Tenikle is essentially a platform to be able to affix all of your techs wherever you need it. Whether it's being used as a bike mount, tripod, car mount, selfie stick, stand, iPad mount, or more. We've many happy customers share how they use the product in so many ways I would never have imagined. It's really designed to be extremely versatile, unlike anything else on the market.
What are the features that make Tenikle different from its competitors?
I think the biggest differentiator beyond the patented suction cup features that allow for more mounting options than any other product, is that this thing is actually really fun. It's designed to be different in aesthetic and tactile experience just as much as in function. We've noticed how much people fidget with the product, and anyone who has one at their desk in the office is bending it throughout the day and coming up with fun ways to use it. Good thing we made it super durable!
On which surfaces and in natural conditions can it be used? What type of equipment is compatible with?
Suction cups have always been designed to stick to smooth surfaces similar to glass —but being able to wrap, hang and bend Tenikle as desired makes it more versatile than that. We're actually working on a new feature that will allow Tenikle to adhere to rough surfaces as well. Even brick! It works with any phone, tablet with or without a case that have a smooth surface. The universal thread on top also allows for cameras, some flashlights and even some speakers.
Which options do you offer? Which one is your favorite?
At the moment, we have Coral Red, Lagoon Blue, and Pilot Black. I'd say my favorite color is the Coral Red as this reminds me of the days where it all started in the garage. I always made sure to add red colorant to my prototypes to make it pop.
Where is Tenikle designed, made and assembled?
Tenikle is 100% made in the USA right here in San Diego. The material comes from Chicago, the raw metal comes from Orange County as well as the internal structure and is all molded and assembled in our factory partner in San Diego. Fun fact: our manufacturer created the helmet that Elon Musk's "Star Man" is wearing as he travels billions of year through deep space. Pretty cool!
You made a very successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. What was the key point of your success?
I'd say the number one factor that pushed the success of our Kickstarter was explaining less about Tenikle's "features" and more about how it can improve your life. We had a really great video that showcased SO MANY different uses, which I think inspired people to think of their own ways they would use it, thus creating a sense of ownership in their minds.
Could you tell us about your team? What are their roles?
Sure! We have an extremely small team. Mike, my good friend from childhood, handles anything financial (all the stuff I'm bad at). Lydia, who's actually my fiance, handles anything relating to customer service or wholesale relationships. Our dog, Hank, is our chief paper shredder. And I am the "everything else guy" which means I do all the design —including web, product development, and some marketing stuff. We like to keep everything else mostly outsourced to maintain a low overhead. We have some great partners including Biddy Co for marketing, Zach at Ships-A-Lot for all our fulfillment (he's awesome), and the guys at our manufacturer who have helped so much getting this product right.
Nowadays, social media consist of photographs, photos are taken for social media. How can Tenikle help social media influencers?
Glad you ask! Tenikle is basically like a personal cameraman that fits in your pocket. It's perfect for influencers who take lots of photos or video as they can take literally any shot they're looking for completely on their own. Especially when using our Shutterbug Bluetooth Remote.
How do you use social media for Tenikle? Which one do you prefer the most?
We've been using mainly FB ads to push our product as it's easily trackable for conversions. We're doing a social media reset later this month to begin a more organic conversation with our followers and customer leads. I prefer Instagram because it's a great way to showcase your brand through images, videos, and even Instagram Stories.
How can our readers buy Tenikle? Do you offer an international delivery option?
Currently, our only sales channel is through our website Tenikle.com where we do offer international delivery to anywhere in the world (maybe not Antarctica but we can try!)
What is next for you? Should we wait for new designs?
We have Tenikle's version 2 coming out soon with some really awesome updates that make it not only work better but also stick to more surfaces. We also have a PRO version for DSLR photographers and a baby version for parents with infants and toddlers coming soon. I'm also working on a completely new invention that makes life easier for pet owners that I'm very excited about -too soon to announce yet though :) as well as going back to my roots in fashion for a high-end menswear brand reviving some classic men's accessories with a modern twist. So stay tuned!
Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?
I will say one more thing. This journey has been extremely exciting with many twists and turns and it's fair share of challenges, but it's such an amazing learning experience. I really have a much higher appreciation for entrepreneurs that do well in the business world - I always say that starting a product business is the best college experience you can't pay for. I'm excited to keep making more great products and to meet new amazing people along the way. If there's anyone out there inclined to have a conversation, please don't hesitate to reach out!
Thanks again for the opportunity to speak with you!
Thank you Hans.