The idea for iShieldz was born the day Andrew Mason, CEO and President of eShields, LLC., dropped his cell phone and cracked the screen. With 23 years' of experience in the window tinting industry and a background in paint protection on the front of high-end, exotic cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris, he realized that the material he was applying to these cars could be used on cell phones or any product with touch screen technology. He went straight to the patent office and filed.
Says Mason of his experiments, "The material I used on the cars was thin enough, clear enough, and durable enough at a certain point in the mixing process for me to test it. When I did, it worked perfectly." Thus, the new entrepreneur created his comany eShields to bring his idea of iShieldz to market. The iShieldz application kit was patented in April 2007.
Touch screen technology had not yet hit the market when Mason had his epiphany, but he had the foresight to know it was imminent. "I had to make sure that the material would allow you to work the screen with your fingers," said Mason. "Obviously, it was imperative to have a solution that would not damage the sensitive electronic parts."
Mason predicts that once his product's existence widely known, it will become a must-have to consumers. In addition to consumer electronics products such as laptops, iPods, GPS systems, and cell phones, eShields is expanding its product protector line to the medical devices industry and are even working with a police department that uses a hand held unit for writing tickets. "We target anything with an LCD screen," says Mason.
The iShieldz family of products will grow into the hundreds and quite possibly the thousands, as the LCD screen products grow exponentially. Essentially, iShieldz is a kit that comes with film, a squeegee and the application liquid. "It is a self-adhering substance," said Mason. Each kit comes with the appropriate amount of liquid and film sizes relevant to the screen and casing of the particular product it has been designed to protect. "You peel away the liner, spray the film, put it on, move it into place and then remove the moisture with the squeegee."
Test marketing has been conducted in Southern California for over a year, and is now beginning to take place nationally. "We have had great response. The test marketing has gone really well, but with the evolution of touch screen technology, we are going to be in a constant R & D phase for products that need iShieldz."
Mason began with Apple products. In September of 2008, there were seven products in the www.iShieldz.com store, each for a version of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPod Nano. Even then, Mason anticipated a substantial increase in the number of products on site by year end. "Other companies are vying to have a touch screen phone. This time next year I think everything on the market will be touch screen. We are always planning for the future."
eShields is the only company with the patented technology that will protect both screen and casing. Resellers and retailers who carry iShieldz in any or all of its product forms will be selling an item for which there is no viable competition. Says Mason, "I have proprietary rights to the liquid and to the materials, and I have a patent on the kit. I have a niche."
"iShieldz also protects the body of the unit itself, not just the screen," Mason said. "With laptops, it protects the click key, the mouse pad and the hand rest. It gives it a nice smooth feel, and protects the product from dings and scratches. It lasts forever."
When Mason says "forever," he means it. All iShieldz products come with a lifetime warranty. The patented technology is so durable, Mason advocates using it instead of buying a hard, external, separate product case. "You can drop whatever unit has iShieldz applied to it, or try to scratch it with a key. Nothing is going to happen, and you still have the ability to maneuver and see clearly the touch screen."
The website, www.iShieldz.com, is simple and to-the-point. It explains the technology, spells out the lifetime replacement guarantee, provides information on shipping and returns and features a video showing how to apply iShieldz. The web store, to which eShields will continue to add their products once they have been test-marketed, is only for retail buyers. For wholesale buyers, there is a button on the top of the homepage that says Click Here to Become a Distributor, which then provides an additional link to the product application video and the contact information for eShields.
Mason prefers wholesale buyers to call for purchasing because he wants to make sure he understands the focus of his customers, and also ensure that his customers fully understand both the product and its market. Additionally, there are two types of stores: those where the consumer selects the iShieldz product that he wants, takes it home, and applies it himself, and those that apply the product for the consumer.
"For those stores, we want them to understand the application and be able to properly serve the customer, so we recommend they take the two day training course," said Mason. "Kiosks do well in this format."
Additionally, the conversation with a prospective seller helps Mason understand the customer's history, volume, focus and distribution channels.
Although eShields had a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, they were still in the test-marketing phase and Mason was holding off any significant marketing of the iShieldz. "I wanted to make sure we had a good format. I wanted to work the bugs out first."
In all its available incarnations, it is obviously an ideal product to carry for any store that specializes in consumer electronics and accessories, but the market for it is wide open. "Aside from the website, we have only been retailing it in Southern California, but I am working with a distributor right now that works with one of the big box stores. We've also had a great return with some mom-and-pop stores."
eShields' (e for electronic) mission for their iShieldz products (i for innovative) is to shield the face of technology. Mason concludes, "We have a great product that protects digital devices and it comes with a lifetime warranty. It speaks for itself."
Minimum Order Pricing: 1,000 units to 9,999 units: $8/unit. 10,000 units to 49,999 units: $7/unit. 50,000 units to 99,999 units: $6/unit. 100,000 units and above: $5/unit. Recommended mark up is $5 - $8 per unit depending on wholesale purchase volume.
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