ZooGue is not your typical iPad and iPhone accessory company. We are obsessive about quality and attention to detail. We were founded in 2010 by a young entrepreneur down on his luck that decided to risk everything with an ingenius design now know as the Case Genius which is still to this day the only iPad Case in the world that is adjustable to literally any angle in a very solid and secure manner.
Since the age of 10, Tim Angel has been an inventor. Always coming up with new innovative ideas.
In December 2009, Tim suddenly lost his job due to company issues. With no high school diploma he felt it would be difficult to find a job. Having had a lifetime of business experience by keeping a watchful eye on his father, who himself is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, he felt driven to make a change in his life.
In January 2010, Tim found himself waiting in line outside of UPS in hopes of securing a job. He was hired later that day. While driving home, he realized his job at UPS would only be enough money to pay his phone bill and possibly his gas for the month. Less than an hour after being hired, Tim called UPS and quit.
$15,000 In Debt Tim decided there was only one way for him to pay the bills and feel fulfilled. He chose to become self employed. Tim immediately started reselling many different things on Ebay, Amazon and Ecrater as a temporary job.
In the meantime, the iPad was announced to the public. Tim immediately saw a great business opportunity, but he also knew there was going to be an extreme amount of competition. He knew he had to create a better, high quality multi use iPad case/stand at an affordable price. After weeks of brainstorming and creating his own prototypes, he finally reached his goal of finishing his final prototype at 5:00 in the morning after working on it all night.
The Final Prototype (above picture) was hand made by Tim. He made it with thin cardboard, a glue gun, some tape and he even painted it.
Finding An Investor- At first Tim was unable to find an investor, it was as if people were not taking him seriously. It was a roadblock in Tim's plan, but it didnt stop him. He decided to sell almost everything he could. He sold his dirtbikes, Plasma TV, speakers, some clothes, and even his bed for $50. With only about $6,000 from everything he sold, it clearly was not enough to start the business but again Tim didn't take no for an answer. He used $1,000 on a ticket to China for 2 months.
Friend Investor- After Tim's best friends dad saw how determined and motivated Tim was he decided to invest in ZooGue. He loaned Tim $70,000 with no contract, just an old fashion handshake.
Tim left for 2 months to China on March 16th 2010, to source a manufacturer for his product.Tim arrived in China with an attitude that nothing would stop him from achieving his goal. But the trip proved to not be an easy task. Tim knew no one in China. It took him 5 hours just to get to a hotel since he couldn’t find anyone that spoke english.
Sourcing a manufacturer was not easy, but after 1 month of visiting different factories Tim finally found the one that met his high standards. Tim then moved to a hotel right next to the factory.
The prototyping started and the factory was about to learn how strict Tim actually was when it came to quality. The factory made a sample for Tim, but Tim asked them to make numerous changes and improvements. They made the adjustments and showed Tim the new sample. This went on for weeks. It took 9 samples until Tim was satisfied and approved the confirmation sample.
Tim gets sick for weeks with a throat infection, sinus infection, lung infection and 2 ear infections. He ends up going to the hospital 5 times.
Production Started April, 2010 for 5,000 ZooGue Cases. Tim was at the factory almost everyday overlooking production. To better understand the workers and to gain their respect Tim decided to work for a day on the assembly line just like any other worker. Tim was the first customer to ever do this and stated, “It was a humbling experience, and now I have great repect for all the hard work these workers do”
First shipment arrives in June 2010, and the first ZooGue Case orders start shipping.
Marketing now becomes Tim's main focus, and spends a majority of the time spreading the word on a zero dollar marketing budget. He eventually lands some huge articles, one in the Orange County Register, Tuaw (AOL Tech) and Macworld. The ZooGue case even made it on good morning America.
The harder you work the luckier you are. In August 2010 Tim was notified by his shipping department that it appeared Rush Limbaugh (the most listened to radio talk show host in the US) purchased a case and they were about to ship it out. Tim wrote Rush a hand written letter and sent it in the box with the cases. A week later Tim was at the office working when he received a unexpected call from a friend that told him Rush Limbaugh was reading his letter live on the air. Tim looked at his site traffic online but there was nothing. Turns out there was so much traffic on the site that the tracking program stopped working. There were about 5 orders a minute for a couple hours and almost 300 orders in 1 day.
Going back to China. That night Tim went online and bought a plane ticket to China. A couple days later he was in China. Tim spent a month and a half there refining the ZooGue Case design to the newer V2 design.
Place to place- In order to keep expenses down until all ZooGue's debt was paid Tim lived in hotel rooms in China and on friends couches in California for almost a year.
2011 $0 Debt- In May 2011 less than a year since ZooGue launched their first product, the $70,000 debt was paid off.
2012 - Things were going good or so I though, the lack of focus on what our actual profits were and how the money that came in was reinvested into the company was unknowingly putting us on track for disaster.
2013 - The debt was mounting but we were focusing on how to grow the business, and all of a sudden we are out of money with massive debt. Sales plumeted. In an attemp to get us out of the hole, we decided to barrow more to attend CES and get as much exposure as possible. Well that was a complete failure $60,000 in the trash. We ended up having to let go of employees, lower salaries, have online sales every week, we tried to contact all past resellers, schools, businesses just about anyone we could. We were able to sell some product but in order to move it we had to sell very low, leaving very little profit which was slowly killing us. We had to make drastic changes to survive, we made the very tough decision to no longer sell to resellers and just sell all of our products direct to customers through our website and amazon.
2014 Update - That one decision to no longer sell through resellers and sell everything direct to customers saved our business. Amazon is now the biggest and most successful piece of our business. We have paid off our recent debt of over $200,000 and are now debt free.
2015 May Update - We celebrate our 5th year anniversary, and have now passed $3,000,000.00 in total rev and continue to grow.
To be continued………………………