This iPhone Smartcover Turned Two Design Students Into Entrepreneurs [Interview]


The TidyTilt.
The TidyTilt.

TidyTilt is a nifty earbud cord wrap, multi-position kickstand and mount for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S that looks a lot like Apple’s iPad Smartcover.

The brainchild of Zahra Tashakorinia and Derek Tarnow, students at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, TidyTilt was so popular that its massive overfunding on Kickstarter turned their little project into a business.

TidyTilt for iPhone HD from TidyTilt on Vimeo.

Tashakorinia and Tarnow had originally asked for $10,000 but by the end of the campaign had 4,000 backers pledging $223,000.

They based their design on “ethnographic research” about how people use and store their headphones (and noticed their own entanglements with the iPhone) to hit on the functionalities. You can use it as a stand, wrap your earbuds in it or, thanks to the magnets on the back, pop it on your refrigerator to keep it out of the way in the kitchen. (We plan to review one, once they’re out.)

It’s the latest Apple-related breakout product that started seeking relatively modest funds on Kickstarter; Casey Hopkin’s slick Elevation Dock recently drummed up $1.4 million.

Cult of Mac: You started out asking for $10,000 to fund the project but got over $220,000 – now what?

TT: We definitely weren’t prepared for the incredible response we got on Kickstarter! When we first launched the product we were unsure if we’d even reach the $10,000 goal. We initially expected to fulfill orders ourselves from our homes, but are now looking at utilizing a fulfillment center to get all of the packages shipped out in a timely manner.

Cult of Mac: So when will people be getting them?

TT: We hope to get the first TidyTilts shipping in March to Kickstarter backers. We’re currently finishing up testing on several different adhesives so we can pick the best one for long life, strength, and clean removability from the back iPhone glass. As soon as we do, we’ll place the order with our suppliers to begin production.

We’ll be launching our web store for new pre-orders (which will ship in March) in the next few days. People will be able to pre-order from

Cult of Mac: You two are unabashedly “Macs,” what’s your work set up?

TT: We both use Macbook Pros (15″ & 17″) as our primary systems. In terms of software, we regularly use AutoCAD, Rhino, CS5 and iMovie.

  • Anthony Spiduro

    I am sorry but that’s pretty stupid. It takes the same amount of time to properly wrap your headphones which costs $0.

  • CharliK

    Their next project will be to get the legal funds to defend themselves when Apple sues them for IP violations

  • NAlMulaifi

    If it’s pretty stupid, then backers wouldn’t have pledged $223,000.

  • Erik Boeselager

    There’s nothing to sue on except similarity in looks, granted the colors are practically the same, the initial design is totally different. It mounts to the back via adhesive, not to the side via magnet like the ipad smart cover. Plus it’s for the iphone 4/4s and has other intended functions the smart cover does not. It’s different enough to be successful. More leeway in design then Samsung is giving. ;)

  • ?iBrianna?

    Actually, part of what you pay for your iPhone/iPad/iPod covers the cost of the earphones. They cost $30 in the Apple store.


    Except the metal thing you have to stick on your iPhone … is nice !

  • 12yake

    I literally just burst out laughing for a good 3 minutes or so when the guy sat down at his desk in front of his keyboard and his propped up iPhone. I thought I was going to die from lack of oxygen!

  • Luis Dominguez

    I won’t go as far as to say this is stupid but I really don’t see any use for this cover.  I have never kept my headphones together with my iPhone.  

  • iRobC

    So all you have to do to become an “entrepreneur” is steal someone else’s idea and put it on Kickstarter? Wow.

  • iRobC

    It doesn’t matter how it attaches or whether a person can roll a pair of headphones in it; it is still a completely stolen design, just shrunk down. I roll my headphones around an old credit card; that doesn’t mean that my credit card is any different than yours.

  • drexyl9944

    It’s always fascinating how many legal experts just happen to be browsing the comments section on CoM.

  • CharliK

    If you actually think that Apple hasn’t applied every possible level of IP protection to their design and its name for the iPad and the iPhone, well I won’t actually say it. 

    okay I will. You are dumb. 

    Remember this is the company that originally tried to patent swiping on a screen to unlock (any kind of swipe) and that is trying to sue over a design patent that seems to be merely thin, rectangular with a bezel to put your fingers on. 

  • Skywaytraffic

    I like when people think they know how copyright law works. 

  • Skywaytraffic

    Right? And nuclear scientists at, and veteran cinematographers at etc etc.

    Do these people really think they’re fooling anyone?

  • Arturo Roland

    it ruins the chic sleekness of the iPhone design. Having to put an adhesive on your iPhone… and that ugly metal band, it’s just not for me. Too bad they didn’t find a way to incorporate the existing magnets. It was a bit off-putting for me, otherwise it’s very clever. 

  • GH

    Consumers are stupid, and they know that.

  • Nick Jaquay

    I fully plan on getting one. 

  • Jonathan Hernandez

    i have a new idea of a smart cover thats alittle better than that.

  • glano

    very nice . its like the ipad’s smart cover . mini cover can use everywhere .