Imagine your friend is calling you for a video chat. You answer the call and then, by flipping open a panel in the back, the case forms a tripod so you can set the phone on the table in front of you. Throughout the day, you also use the foldable protective case as a selfie stick and a wall mount. That’s Geco Case at work.
A Design Partnership Created by Serendipity
Geco Case—it’s pronounced like “gecko”— is the brainchild of Miguel Moreno Gelly. He came up with the idea in the summer of 2015, when he was starting to work at Berlin’s FabLab (whose community he describes as “really, really friendly”). He was learning to use Fusion 360 and looking for a design project of his own. He asked himself “What can I do here that I would really love?”
Reflecting on how much time he spent exchanging pictures and making video calls with his family in Mexico, he thought that “It would be great to have something to hold the phone so you can use the screen and the camera in many different ways.”
Drawing on his background as a painter, photographer, television presenter, and sculptor, he started tinkering with ideas for a phone case that would combine sleek, colorful design with multiple features to make it more useful for taking photographs and shooting videos. Along the way, he’s added software features including an audiovisual calendar and alarm.
Earlier this year, Gelly joined forces with Cenk Toprak, whom he met at FabLab. Toprak grew up in Berlin and worked as an IT consultant before becoming an entrepreneur. While building his own project, the Pangea Sun modular notebook, Toprak started helping Gelly with business aspects of Geco Case such as creating a website and going through Germany’s patent process. What they call “an organic partnership” was born.
From Handmade Prototypes to High-Speed Rendering
When Gelly began his work, he didn’t know anything about 3D design. He laughs when he says that, not being an engineer, “it was like a nightmare” to design the complex folding mechanism of the Geco Case. He holds up plastic sacks filled with early prototypes, many of which he made by hand.
It took many repetitions to get to the finished design. Gelly particularly spent a lot of time on the movement of the joints so that the case would close more easily and securely. “Having Fusion 360 saved me a lot of prototyping, and a lot of money,” he says. “I was able to see how it works before printing.”
Both Gelly and Toprak appreciate the speed and quality of Fusion 360’s rendering function. Toprak uses it to produce renderings used in the company’s marketing materials. Gelly says that the renderings of the Geco Case are so good that “It’s almost real.” He adds that doing them is “really, really fast.”
One of the things that Toprak likes most about the design of the Geco Case is its modularity, which allows users to come up with their own ways to use it—to express their own creativity. Both men say that they’re excited to get the device in the hands of customers to see how they will use it.
Kickstarter, Manufacturing, and Beyond
Their next mountain to climb is a Kickstarter campaign the team recently launched with a target of €22,400. “I’m a fan of Kickstarter,” Gelly says, adding that he likes the all-or-nothing challenge of it. (If a project doesn’t meet its target figure, none of the pledges are collected.) For now, they are content to use crowdfunding and their own resources to grow Geco Case, though they may consider looking for investors somewhere down the line.
Through a referral from a friend, they have already found manufacturing partners in China. If all goes well with the Kickstarter campaign, they’ll need about six weeks to create the molds for the device, then about a month for production. That means that the finished product should ship early in 2017, and they already have distributors lined up for Mexico, Spain, and the United States.
The current version of the Geco Case already has Bluetooth remote control to make it easier to shoot video and take pictures. Gelly and Toprak intend the second version to include an extra battery and a solar panel for recharging as well.
What’s on the horizon beyond that? Toprak laughs and says, “We have a lot of dreams.”