Logan Bailey’s first commercial invention is the Side Winder, a reel that neatly coils a MacBook charging cord to keep it tangle-free.
But the Side Winder isn’t his first Eureka! moment. That came in the fourth grade when he built a better toenail clipper.
All inventors start somewhere and the toenail clipper explains a lot about Bailey and why the Side Winder is a hit with MacBook Pro users who have struggled to stow the stiff cord or grew frustrated paying $80 to replace one that frayed.
Birth of the Side Winder
A business student at Brigham Young University, Bailey was looking for a product idea to enter a school competition for entrepreneurs.
“I wanted to start a company and wanted to make something that hasn’t been done yet,” Bailey, whose company is called Fuse Reel, told Cult of Mac. “I’ve always been a heavy MacBook user and one night I saw all the tables in the library were a mess of white MacBook chargers.
“That was when divine intervention happened.”
Bailey sees problems as rabbit holes and knows solutions are only found from diving in. As a kid, he was always working on something mechanical, from taking small things apart to see how they function to working on cars.
For a fourth-grade science project, he strayed from the baking soda volcano to make a personal care device for obese people who could not easily bend down to trim their own toenails. He doesn’t remember exactly what or who he saw to give him the idea, but, like the white charging cords on the library table, it was a scene that called forth an ah-ha.
He enlisted his dad to help him weld a steel rod to a clipper that would engage with the press of a handle on the opposite end. It worked.
The moment in the library sent him on a trip to his local Home Depot in search of something that would reel in a cord.
Bailey settled on an orange reel that holds fish tape, which electricians use to route new wiring through walls and electrical conduit.
He taped the power brick in the center of the real, drilled some holes, sanded it down a bit and got it to smoothly coil and confine the cord.
“Three days after that, I bought a 3D printer,” Bailey said of the moment which was just 15 months ago. “Within a week, I had a rough prototype and everyone I showed it to loved it and wanted one right away.
“I must have made 30 or 40 prototypes, it was non-stop designing and printing. I didn’t have the budget for engineers, renderers or photographer. It was me doing my bootstrapping best.”
The challenge was to make it as small as possible. The smaller the reel got, the harder it was to wind the cord. He used all six sizes of MacBook power cords. The Side Wider comes with brackets that pop in to fit any MacBook cord.
To dress up his presentation, Bailey conducted his own research, talking to 400 or 500 MacBook users. All seemed to have issues with knotted or tangled cords. He said 65 percent had paid to replace a frayed cord.
“They are not like PC chargers, they’re not designed to be portable,” Bailey said. “One thing I do know, (Apple) sells a lot of replacement chargers at $80 a pop.”
Bailey’s idea made the top 10 at the school competition but did not win. It is, however, one of just two start-ups from that group of 10 still in business, he said.
Still living like a college student
The enthusiasm energized Bailey. With just a couple thousand dollars of his own money, he brought Side Winder to Kickstarter, where it was the top-funded MacBook Accessory for 2017.
More than 7,000 backers pledged $320,000 (1,600 percent funded).
The product shipped to backers in February, was available for purchase on the FuseReel website in March and Bailey is already sold through one shipping container full of Side Winders, he said.
FuseReel has other products in development, including portable wireless chargers. He said he wants his company to focus on keeping on-the-go tech users organized.
Bailey’s bank account could be fuller than most recent college graduates, but he said he is putting all the money back into inventory and still living like a college student. His first indulgence will be a decent bed, he said.
“I’ve lived on a 10 grand a year before and so it’s not super hard to do,” he said. “I want to grow this without going into debt too much. It’s nice not having to listen to an investor tell me what to do.”
A promotional video for Side Winder below will help you appreciate Bailey’s personality, which includes a sense of humor that briefly features his impersonating the voice of Apple design guru Jony Ive.