Inventors Jazz up iPhone Case
Chris Misir of Florida shows off his new product, the GhoStick. It's an iPhone case with small suction cups on the back, allowing the phone to be stuck onto car dashboards, mirrors and other surfaces. He and business partner Franco Biancamano hope to start manufacturing in December.
By James Walsh
Posted Oct. 22, 2013 at 2:00 AM
Chris Misir hopes his new product will excite iPhone users everywhere.
It's a pliable plastic case with suction cups on the back that fits the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s. The product, called the GhoStick, adheres to flat surfaces.
A driver could use the product to stick their phone to their car's dashboard, making it easier to use a GPS app, Misir said.
Taking a group photo? Set the timer, stick it to a wall, and step back into the picture. Like listening to music while exercising? Slap it on the treadmill.
Misir's business partner, Franco Biancamano, came up with the idea for the GhoStick more than a year ago. The initial drawback was that the prototype had suction cups that were too large and made for a bulky case. That was solved by using a larger number of smaller suction cups.
A glimpse of the product's adhesion power can be found on a video at the company's website — ghostick.com. It depicts a motorcyclist filming a Long Island neighborhood with an iPhone stuck on his helmet.
The company, CF-Brands, is taking initial orders, with plans to begin manufacturing in December. Prices range between $24 and $32.
Misir and Biancamano invested $10,000 on product testing, developing their website and making samples of the GhoStick to show retail representatives and other interested parties.
Some of those interested parties became investors, relieving Misir and Biancamano of financial pressures that so often plague new entrepreneurs.
Biancamano's full-time job involves regional sales for a hardware company. He's a former punter and place kicker who played for the NFL Europe's Amsterdam Admirals.
Misir works as a software designer for a digital signal-processing company.
"We're both good at what we do in our current jobs," Misir said at his home in a new Florida development set high on a hillside, "but we're also inventive and like to think up ideas for products."
The staff of their company also includes Chris Filippelli, the marketing chief who's spreading word about the GhoStick via social media — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
"We're seeing a tremendous amount of positive feedback," Misir said. "We're even getting orders from the United Kingdom."
A broker has also been dispatched to make pitches to retailers like Radio Shack, Wal-Mart and Target.
"We live and breathe it 24/7," Misir said. "We're always thinking of ways to promote it, and new styles and designs."
The cases and suction-cup inserts are being made in multiple and interchangeable colors. A glow-in-the-dark version is in the works.
"We're always looking for ways to make it more appealing to people," Misir said.
A Good Place for a Stick-Up
NY FOUNDED: August 2013
FOUNDER(S): Franco Biancamano and Chris Misir
EMPLOYEES: 3 part-time
PRODUCT: Sticks-anywhere iPhone case
LAUNCH INVESTMENT: $10,000, for prototypes and testing
FUNDING SOURCES: Self-funded
MAJOR CHALLENGES: Getting into distribution channels
PRODUCT STATUS: Pre-ordering underway, shipping around Christmas.
Franco Biancamano likes to listen to talk radio in the shower.
Go ahead and form a mental image, if you like – and if it helps, understand that he’s a world-class athlete who punted on the practice squads of the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns. He also played two full seasons for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, after being drafted out of Southern Connecticut State University by the San Francisco Demons of the now-defunct XFL.
Despite those impressive gridiron credentials, Biancamano has the same problems as everyone else when it comes to listening to programming on his iPhone, his radio of choice: It doesn’t do well in the shower.
It’s also a handful, literally, when he’s driving and wants to use its GPS functions.
So Biancamano and his partner at CF Brands, Chris Misir, came up with the GhoStick, a handy coverall that sticks to virtually any flat surface. From bathroom tiles to leather-trimmed dashboards – not to mention mirrors, doors, refrigerators, treadmills and SUV bumpers, according to the inventors’ promo video – the gravity-defying GhoStick’s patented super-suction cups give users the hands-off freedom to wash, drive or otherwise utilize both hands.
Even the product’s name is innovative: a triple, possibly quadruple entendre that references the smartphone’s mobility, stickiness, shape (with a tapered bottom, it recalls the bad-guy ghosts from “Pac-Man”) and almost preternatural coolness, according to Biancamano.
“‘Ghost’ references something that’s never been seen before, or something that’s hidden,” he said. “That’s the great thing about GhoStick – you think it’s just a regular case, until you stick it somewhere and see that it’s not. Plus, we wanted a name we could brand.”
Those sorts of marketing concerns top the inventors’ list.
GhoStick is already attracting investor attention; after staking $10,000 to launch the CF Brands subsidiary, the partners in August came to terms with two VC groups who are standing by with “anywhere between $50,000 and wherever it goes,” depending on production demands, Biancamano said. But driving that demand is a different story.
“Anyone can have a great product,” Biancamano said. “It’s all about how you get it in front of people. That’s any company’s biggest challenge.”
For now, they’re relying on old-fashioned word of mouth and a dash of new-age promoting.
The GhoStick website went live this month, and the founders are also counting on some of the goodwill generated by CF Brands’ earlier software products,
including videogame apps, an app that collates health care news and another that turns a phone’s flashbulb into a strobe light.
“We made those apps because sometimes you create product to build up your portfolio, and we obviously wanted to get the cash flow going,” Biancamano said. “But we want to make products nobody has ever seen before.”
As momentum builds, the co-founders hope to sign with marketing companies that have relationships with retailers that can push GhoStick over the top: the Apple Store, Target and Best Buy, for instance. Between now and then, Biancamano and Misir – a U.S. Army veteran who holds an electrical engineering degree from the New Jersey College of Engineering – will expand the scope of their customizable cases, which are currently available only for the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S.
They’re already developing versions that fit other phones and plan to have their product in retail locations by next year.
“We wanted to make it for the iPhone first, because Apple is the standard,” Biancamano said. “But ultimately we want it to be available for all phones, and we want to be everywhere people buy cases.
“The possibilities are endless,” he added. “But right now, the most important thing is just getting the product out there.”
Complete URL: http://libn.com/2013/10/15/startup-of-the-week-ghostick/.
iPhone case that sticks to smooth surfaces
The co-founders of CF-Brands, which makes the GhoStick Case iPhone 5|5s, iPhone 6|6s cases came to Newsday Friday to show off their product, which allows an iPhone to stick to smooth surfaces. Videojournalist: Chuck Fadely (Oct 4th, 2013)
"I've never seen a ghost, But now i've seen a ghostick!"
The GhoStick case tightly holds and protects your phone, while the suction cup insert creates a firm seal with the surface to which it’s attached. Use your GhoStick case on a car or train window to watch movies on long trips or daily commutes. Stick GhoStick to your mirror to take selfies, or pictures with friends, without your arm getting in the way. Download the FREE app in the App Store.
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