Ryan Chavis always wanted to be in business for himself, he just never expected bags to be his business.
With two generations of business starters in his family before him, the 33-year old Valrico resident has seen what it takes to start and grow a business. For him, exactly what that business that was has changed over the years. At one point it was designing security systems. But now, he has turned to soft bags that have the potential to revolutionize the way Apple customers use the iPad.
"I just didn't like the fact that you had to carry it on your hand all of the time," Chavis said. "It needed more functionality for people that want to take it out into the field at work so I started working on a way to make it happen. Now we're working with several different retailers to sell the iBackFlip. Our customers have said they would like more storage, so our 2012 version of the bag is going to offer that too."
Growing up, Chavis was always good at art. He considered art school as he graduated high school, but couldn't stomach the idea of a future as a starving artist. It was 1997 and the technology era was booming when Chavis decided to pursue a future in design, something that would allow him to get on board with the trends of the future.
"I always wanted my own company because I saw my father and grandfather run their contractor businesses," Chavis said. " I loved art as a kid and I was always building things. With this venture, I've taken a lot of the things I learned in a business sense and about building things from my father. I knew I could use my artistic abilities in design and even though I never saw myself making soft bags, I think this has brought together the art and design portions of my background."
After working as a draftsmen doing topographic designs in his early professional years, a 23-year old Chavis sank his money into his first business venture. Designing home theater and security systems allowed him to combine his passion for technology with his creative instincts, but after frustrations arose over unpaid contracts he decided to give up his business.
Chavis worked for private firms designing security systems over the next decade. One day, he heard of Apple's newest invention, the iPad. With the touch of a stylus on the screen, he could sketch designs that he had previously only used pen and paper to conceptualize. Upon attempting to put the tool into action, however, he encountered a problem.
"Once I saw the Sketchbook Pro program I got excited and was soon after in line to get my first iPad," Chavis said. "Apple products are such beautiful machines but I immediately had concerns about dropping it because of the fact that it has to be on your hand all of the time. I knew then I wanted to make a case so I began working with this idea of a sling-style bag. I used my wife as a model and began working with fabrics and trying to make the strap system."
It was less than a year ago that he began thinking of his solution the iPad's portability issue. It took him several months to figure out the straps that would hold the pad up and to get help from a local sewing shop willing to take on the project.
Finally, Tampa's Maverick Marketing Group got on board and developed the first few prototypes for Chavis. He created a logo for them to sew on and soon he had the first bag he could take into public.
"My family, friends and colleagues were all saying that I had to try to make these things into a business once they saw the first bag," Chavis said. "In the first two weeks it seemed like everywhere I went I got questioned about the bag. It was that stage that really made me decide to take this thing to market."
Chavis began working with other design companies. Between researching entreprenurial ideas that could help him succeed, learning the ins-and-outs of the manufacturing world, having the bags made and selling his first one, seven months had passed.
Chavis enlisted the help of his cousin, Carl Moebis, to help with designing a website and brought him in as a partner. The two have since seen the venture. The bag can already be purchased through the popular online shopping site amazon.com and they are now working toward deals that will have the iBackFlip sold in stores around the country.
"It took us investing a lot of our own money but we finally found the right companies to work with so that we could get the bag ready to be manufactured," Chavis said. "We found Schulz Industries to make the bag and we started producing. The first 250 bags sold in a matter of two months and now we've sold a little over 5,000."
Chavis' success has come partially in how the bag is marketed. By making the pad more mobile he has created a way for people in almost any occupation to make it useful.
"Anybody from a student to a sales person to anyone who has to do some sort of field work can find a use for the bag," Chavis said. "I enjoy seeing all the different companies and people that are using the bag and that is part of how we market it. Florida Atlantic University is using the bags for their maintenance and engineering teams on campus and King County Washington is testing the bags for their property appraisers. The amount of people that can use it is endless."
For more information about the iBackFlip, Chavis or where you can get one, visit www.ibackflip.com.