Tim Angel is a 26 year old entrepreneur and inventor of the ZooGue brand of iPad cases. His rough life, including being fired from the family business, and the other ups and downs of his entrepreneurial success story have been well documented on his YouTube channel ZooGueBROKEtoRICH, but when asked, he recently took a few minutes to speak with us about ZooGue.
Hi Tim, thanks for taking time out to speak with us.
Where’d the idea for the ZooGue range of products come from? Which one did you invent first?
My first case was specifically for the iPad.
Well it wasn’t something that popped into my head. I was not employed and I was running out of money. When I saw the iPad announced I thought this is a great opportunity so I stayed inside my place for about a week straight just brainstorming and making cardboard prototypes and I was determined to come up with the best design because I knew there would be a lot of competition.
I did countless drawings and prototypes. I only went outside to grab food for that week. I would sleep a couple hours than work for 15 hours then sleep a couple hours then work another 10, over and over and over. I was extremely obsessive to come up with a great design.
I was so caught up with the case and sleeping randomly that when a friend called one day at 6 I asked what are you doing up so early, turns out it was 6 at night not six in the morning, i was complete losing track of time. now that’s weird when that happens HAHA.
Anyways my first design I released was the ZooGue Case Genius, the only iPad Case on the market still to this day that is adjustable to any angle.
I’ve heard that you started ZooGue after losing your job and sleeping on friends’ couches. Can you describe that period of your life?
I worked in my families business, and when my parents got divorced I was fired. It was very rough, very rough.
But it was a blessing in disguise. Throughout my life I would always say everything happened for a reason, but this was the one time is was very hard to believe.
I only had a couple thousand in the bank and had about 15,000 in debt between credit cards and medical bills and I had no high school diploma. I applied to a few jobs and they turned me down, I even told one of them that turned me down that I would be back in a couple years and I would be more successful then them.
I started living on friends couches, and I remember one day I was standing in a line of about 50 people outside of UPS trying to get a job that paid $8 it was not a good feeling I felt like a loser I was 25 and I was applying for an $8 an hour job.
My lifelong plan was I would be able to retire at 25. That seemed like only a dream far away. I ended up getting the Job at UPS and on my way home Something just clicked in my head and I said no, I’m better than this. So I started an eBay account and finding things to resale. I was able to bring in enough money to survive. I was eager to take it to the next level I needed to make it big I was hungry, very hungry.
That’s when I saw the announcement of the iPad on TV.
What was the process like, inventing a product and then bringing it to market?
Stressful, scary and most of all A LEARNING PROCESS. But I drilled it into my head I was going to make it no matter what.
While I was in china for a couple months sourcing a manufacturer I would be in my hotel room when I wasn’t at a factory and I would be posting on forums sometimes 15 hours a day spreading the word and telling people about the product I was making. I would also make videos for my you tube diary of ZooGue to get some more followers and support.
Slowly but surely I started to get some attention. By the time I had the product in our warehouse in CA i already had a couple hundred pre-orders. And 5,000 cases I needed to sell. So I kept at it and with very hard work and determination I got some big reviews and it’s just been a successful roller coster ride since. Over a year later now we have had over a million dollars in sales and this is only the beginning.
What kinds of hurdles did you have to overcome?
Finding an investor was hard, I couldn’t find anyone that would invest. So I said screw it, I will do it on my own
I basically started selling everything I had even my bed for $50. I got probably around $6,000 for everything I sold and I bought a plane ticket to China with no even enough money to buy product. But like I said I bought that ticket so I knew there was no turning back.
After my best friends dad saw how committed I was and that I was risking everything I had he decided to loan me $70,000 it was amazing he gave me the money with no contract, which growing up around my father’s businesses I knew that you always need a contract. So I made my own contract for my investor basically saying that I was personally responsible to back back every dime no matter what. I think he appreciated that.
How’d you started as an inventor?
Well I was always fascinated with inventing new things ever since I was a young kid. I used to have a book when I was about 10 with drawings and invention ideas.
Have you invented anything not related to the iPad?
Yes I have invented many things but never was satisfied with any of them enough to bring them to the market. So with this case I wasn’t going to stop with brainstorming and making cardboard prototypes until I was satisfied with the design. Failure was just not an option, I realized I had been waiting my whole life for this and nothing would stop me.
What else do you have up your sleeve? What’s new for you/and or ZooGue?
I am working on a new design for the iPad 3 made of plastic and rubber with no Velcro but with the same functionality. This next product will bring ZooGue to the masses and get my company to where I want it to be.
I will be releasing a new accessory I invented for the current ZooGue Case Genius in mid august.
In the video below, Tim buys a couple iPad 2s on the day of launch and then immediately flies to China so that his factory can get started on a new design.
Below is a video demo of the ZooGlue BinderPad Case.
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