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Kickstarter has long been the refuge of the "little guy"--the place where independent developers can gain funding for quirky projects that otherwise may never see the light of day--but now it appears the big guys are starting to pay attention as well. Today Logitech announced its acquisition of TT Design Labs, which received considerable media attention after a Kickstarter for its "TidyTilt" accessory for the iPhone brought in over $200,000 last year. Starting today, Logitech's rebranded (and apparently improved) version of the product is available for preorder, and we had a chance to speak with co-founder Derek Karnow ahead of the announcement.
Designed by Karnow and Zahra Tashakorinia at a design school in Chicago, the TidyTilt is a multipurpose iPhone accessory that morphs into a stand, a mount, and an earbud holder. Logitech retained much of the original design, although it did away with the adhesive that was one of the less popular aspects of the original template and introduced it in six different colors and a new leather version. Along with TidyTilt, Karnow and Tashakorinia also designed the JustMount for use with mounting the TidyTilt to a wall. Both are available for preorders on Logitech's website as of today.
This appears to be the first instance of a major technology brand acquiring projects that first appeared on Kickstarter, and it's possible we'll see similar stories in the future. Karnow admits that he was taken aback himself after Logitech contacted him and Tashakorinia. "At first we were very skeptical," Karnow said. "They actually reached out to us using the Kickstarter contact form." Karnow added that he and Tashakorinia originally had not planned on an acquisition, but that changed after subsequent meetings revealed how well their design philosophies and visions of the industry's future meshed with those of Logitech's.
Karnow, who now works full-time for Logitech (Tashakorinia assumed a part-time role), sees the partnership as beneficial for both Logitech and TT Design Labs. "We get to continue working on our passion, which is working on great products," he said, "and Logitech is allowing us to get our products into the hands of people around the world that we wouldn't have been able to reach before."
His advice for developers hoping for similar success with Kickstarter? "Get feedback from anyone you can before launching, have an amazing video (if possible), and tell an amazing story." Above all, he says, "be sure to come across as yourself."
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.