Three-and-a-half days of our lives are spent untangling earbuds.
This is the premise on which 1994 Engineering graduate Vanessa Chan markets her new product loopit, a pair of earbuds that rarely tangle due to a patent pending magnetic clasp.
Chan, a Philadelphia resident and mother of two, founded the company re.design — which produces loopit — after leaving her position as a partner at McKinsey & Company to follow her passion for "making everyday products simply better.”
The inspiration for loopit came from Chan’s everyday life, she said.
“When I was a management consultant, I was constantly on the phone. Usually my headphones were stuffed in the black hole of my handbag and I spent way too much time fishing them out, only to find them tangled in tons of knots,” she said. “It drove me crazy several times a day and I thought, ‘There has to be a better solution for this.’ With loopit, we can eliminate a daily frustration felt by millions.”
Chan first got the idea for loopit when she tooled around with her Apple earbuds and decorated them. Her experience making jewelry inspired her to make the earbuds double as a necklace by adding a magnetic clasp. She wrapped a lightweight chain around the earbuds in order to disguise them without making them heavier.
re.design launched a campaign on Kickstarter — an online crowdfunding platform — on Jan. 26 and exceeded its $15,000 fundraising goal in a week. The Kickstarter has raised approximately $20,000 and is backed by more than 250 people.
While at Penn, Chan’s undergraduate advisor was Russell Composto, the current associate dean of undergraduate education in engineering. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Chan earned a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in materials science and engineering.
Chan said her experience at Penn working in a lab and experimenting was formative in helping shape her career path.
Chan is also involved in other networking ventures. She is a co-president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Ellevate Network, which supports women professionals. Through her roles on the Venture Incubator advisory board for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Board of Trustees, Chan helps elementary school children with their business ideas.
Chan’s own two daughters, aged seven and nine, take after their mother as “tinkerers” and helped to inspire her career change and transition to the start-up.
Chan is very positive about the excitement loopit has received from both the press and investors on Kickstarter.
“We were surprised at how many people were buying multi-packs, so that is an indication that people really like it,” Chan said.
Each loopit will be sold for approximately $50 but there are discounts for ordering before Feb. 25 on Kickstarter when the campaign ends.