You know what we’re talking about…those clanky aluminum towers that hold propane tanks and keep us warm while cocktailing outdoors on cool nights? Thankfully a new company called Kindle Living has reinvented them. Good friends Arturo Fis and David Tannebaum were sitting in a friend’s yard one day while she tried to plan a party. The conversation got around to those ugly and dented heaters she’d have to rent. Arturo, who studied architecture but made a career in product design, had an epiphany. What if the heaters could be art? They immediately got to work on prototypes. Now their company, Kindle Living, is supplying the warmth for Hollywood’s coolest parties and creating real buzz in the design community.
I’ve asked David and Arturo to share a little more about Kindle Living and the development of the business. Gents, welcome to Smart Planet.
How did you move from idea to product?
The largest hurdle was ultimately making the decision to step away from the design firm I had worked with for the past 20 years. That said, between David’s enthusiasm, my wife’s loving support, a real need in the market, and a couple of thorough patent searches, we decided the opportunity was irresistible. Any new venture is handled through a series of necessary steps –first, a real sense of what a patio heater could look like, then, how it should work, how manufacturing should address the needs of the environment, experimentation to overcome the technical hurdles. After two years, the first Kindle prototype was ready for testing. Obviously, that’s simplified, but it truly was a birthing process—labor pains and all—and all the more rewarding when you consider how our Kindle Living concept will forever change the way people look, for the first time, at what a patio heater should look like.
Where did you find your first customers?
We knew everyone who uses a patio heater, and even some who refuse to have one because of their looks, would appreciate and desire a Kindle heater. That included countless venues, such as restaurants, hotels, malls, concert or sport halls, museums, etc., as well homes. Then, we explored the possibility of testing the product by offering a large number of production units to the rental market. Rental companies are notoriously hard on their products and we knew that the Kindles would be put through heavy use over the season. As expected, they have withstood beautifully and we’ve gotten really wonderful feedback.
How important has PR been to your success?
Very! When you bring out a new product that re-writes what an industry, or consumer has come to expect, you need to get the word out that it even exists! Then people go, “Wow, why has no one thought of that”? Until then, the idea of a Kindle Living product didn’t even exist. We have also been fortunate that the product has attracted wonderful enthusiasm from many notable bloggers, magazines and newspapers.
What was the smartest move you made?
My friendship with David. He is the ideal business partner and our skill sets complement each others, while maintaining and respecting what the other does. We also manage to have a good time in most everything we do. Our wives and kids are also very close friends, which certainly spur us on.
What was the dumbest?
Hmm, maybe not dumbest, but let’s say, most difficult. Everyone who sees a Kindle heater is smitten. We just need for more people to see it. It’s interesting because in commercial properties, historically the engineers would be the ones placing the orders for heaters, which were strictly a utilitarian product. With the introduction of the Kindle, we have entered the territory of designers, where the aesthetic is paramount. So, there needs to be a shift in the thinking and an integration of form and function.
What’s next for Kindle Living?
We are just warming up! We are absolutely looking towards the future with a slew of ideas, designs, and complements to the initial Kindle model. Look for some great, mind blowing stuff and ultra cool designs, coming your way.
Thanks David and Arturo!