Swiveling iPad case sparks creation of company

Swiveling iPad case sparks creation of company

May 27th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Business Around the Region

Brian May shows both the two-panel, right, and one-panel version of the Swivel Pro, an iPad case designed by his company, US+U. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

• What: Swivel back iPad cases

• Company: US+U

• Address: The Tivoli Center, 701 Broad St.

• Website: www.usplusu.com

• Telephone: 877-775-0660

• Owner: Brian May

• What's special: A self-adjusting swivel back allows the US+U case to be held in one hand and swiveled 360 degrees in either direction, depending on the requirements of the app being used. Unlike other swiveling iPad cases, US+U's case is a portfolio-style. "It's professional to carry into a meeting and not be embarrassed by something like what a child would be using," May said.

• The origin story: May also runs an interactive and branding firm, Maycreate. Following the iPad's launch in April 2010, a common complaint around the office was that the device was difficult to hold in one hand. After searching for a case that allowed one-handed use with a swivel, May said he couldn't find one, so designed his own. He incorporated the company within a week and filed for a patent in May. The case entered production in China in October.

How long does it take to make: From 3,000 a month to 5,000 a week, when their Chinese manufacturer is at full capacity.

• Where it's sold: At MacAuthority (in Tennessee) and PeachMac (in Georgia). US+U was just picked up by a distributor, and the cases should be available outside the region within 90-120 days.

• What it costs: iPad 1 cases are $54.99 (two-panel) and $59.99 (three-panel); iPad 2 cases are $54.99 (simple swivel) and $69.99 (two-panel).

• Plans: US+U is settling on a national distributor in Minneapolis. May said the company plans to release six new accessories for Apple products by the end of the year.

• Lessons of the trade: "Rapid prototyping today is much faster than what it was years ago when I started doing this," May said. "Within the span of 30 days, you can go from idea to manufacturing, so you need to know it's right before you jump into manufacturing."