My name is Tete Sedalo, and I’m the founder of TouCoul. You can read more about me and how I started TouCoul on the About page. I wanted to share the story of TouCoul’s first product, its unfortunate end, and how I used what I learned to create the new and improved CoulVue iPad Holder and Handle. What Happened to the CoulVue Headrest Mounting System? I launched TouCoul in 2010 with the CoulVue Headrest Mounting System. It was a huge hit and the demand for it kept growing, but despite its popularity, I was forced to pull it off the market. It was a very difficult experience. Here’s exactly what happened. Lessons Learned From TouCoul’s First Product
Lesson 1: Design Isn’t Everything
My first passion has always been a love for good design: working out the details of what makes an innovative and useful product, and making it functional and beautiful. The iPad car mounting system was the first TouCoul design. As an engineer, I primarily focused on making sure there were no design issues, and the product was manufactured correctly. But I learned the hard way that wasn’t enough. At first, the manufacturer followed our agreed-upon specifications, and the product performed very well in its initial testing. Thousands of the headrest mounting systems were sold. My customers loved the product, and it was in high demand. After receiving the second production batch, things suddenly started to go wrong. The product looked exactly the same, and seemed to work fine at first, but they mysteriously began to fall apart after a few days of use. I stuck by my warranty and shipped out new ones to every customer who contacted me, or sent a refund when requested. Unfortunately, the same thing would happen to the replacements after a couple of weeks — and sometimes even right out of the box! — The product was breaking down. I traveled to the manufacturer and inspected their processes, but everything looked the same. I was stumped. Finally, I decided to invest in a chemical analysis. The lab discovered the issue at last: The manufacturer had changed the specified glue to assemble the product. Without my knowledge or consent, the manufacturer decided to make changes in order to save a couple of cents. The cheaper glue was chemically reacting with the CoulVue thermoplastic and causing the products to fall apart over time. While the CoulVue Headrest Mounting System was still in high demand, I couldn’t sell known defective items to my customers, so I decided to pull all my remaining inventory from the market and discard them.What I learned: Designing a great product isn’t everything. The whole manufacturing process needs to be carefully monitored through every phase, even when things seem to be going perfectly. Here’s what I’m doing differently this time:
- Performing more tests and quality checks: For the new CoulVue iPad Holder and Handle, I took very careful steps during the design, in prototyping, testing and specifying strict manufacturing procedures before starting mass production. I am continuously performing quality control tests from the production floor all the way until the product is shipped out.
- Developing a closer relationship with the manufacturer: This time around, I’m working more closely with my manufacturer as a partner rather than a subcontractor, so we can both work together and do our best to create a quality product we can be proud of.
Lesson 2: The Simpler, the Better
With TouCoul, my ultimate goal is to solve one problem: I want to enable people to get more out of their iPads. The CoulVue Headrest Mounting System was designed to accomplish that goal by making it as easy as possible to use your iPad while on a road trip. The mounting system was quite flexible. It could move in any direction — up, down, left, right — you could rotate the screen 360 degrees, tilt it, bring the iPad closer or further away, and use it from any angle of view. With all that flexibility also came more complexity in the design, and each moving part introduced another potential point of failure in the product. Most of my customers didn’t even need to use the mounting system’s full range of motion. What I learned: I learned that a product doesn’t have to be unnecessary complicated to be functional and useful. So my new dedication is to minimalist design, with my total focus on getting right the essence of a product — the key functions.
Lesson 3. A Product isn’t just how it looks or what it is made of
Another lesson I learned through this whole process is the incredible amount of work that goes into creating and designing any product. Even the simplest product reflects the passion of the designer, the incredible amount of thought that went into creating its functions, features, and look. The new CoulVue is not just an iPad hand strap. It’s the reflection of my passion and experiences for design. What I learned: A product is more than the sum of its parts. It also expresses the passion, thought, care, and hard work of the designer.
Why I’m Still Standing Behind TouCoul
When the CoulVue Headrest Mounting System was being manufactured with inferior glue, it got some very bad reviews online. It probably would have been easier for me to sell off my inventory and change my business name before starting again. But after everything, I am still proudly standing behind the TouCoul brand, and still working very hard to create better products. TouCoul’s latest offering is the new CoulVue iPad Holder and Handle, which makes it easier than ever to use your iPad. I’m offering a 30-day money back guarantee and a 2-year warranty on all TouCoul’s products. I’ve learned and changed a lot from the CoulVue Headrest Mounting System experience. But one thing hasn’t changed: my passion to creating innovative, useful, high quality and beautiful products remains intact.