By Georgetta L. Morque, article originally published in The Rye Record
The cell phone cases on the market just weren’t doing the trick for Colin Leslie, a 2010 Rye High School graduate and currently an MBA candidate at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. None addressed the problem of dropping phones, a common occurrence for many. Convinced that there should be a better way, he developed a new product, the Sparrow iPhone case, which promises to be a game changer, especially for traveling young professionals.
The first innovation of Leslie’s new venture, Finch & Mole, the Sparrow iPhone case features a unique “wing” design — hence the sparrow name — allowing the user to hold the phone snugly to prevent it from dropping. While many phone cases and add-ons are plastic, the Sparrow is made of vegan leather material creating a look appropriate for business as well as social environments. It was also designed with today’s larger phones in mind and it conveniently closes flat.
During his three years as a management consultant at Bain & Company in Atlanta, Leslie traveled extensively which gave him an appreciation for products that made life easier. Yet he found few products designed for young professionals on the road. After purchasing a new iPhone and experiencing the all too familiar pain of dropping the device, he found an unsolved issue. “We need to find a way to hold phones better,” said Leslie, who earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from UVA. He also questioned the logic of putting cheap plastic on an expensive phone.
At business school, Leslie said he’s had a captive audience to bounce off ideas. His classes in entrepreneurship and prototyping helped him learn more about bringing a product to the market. In addition, working at Bain with retail consumer product companies provided an invaluable foundation.
After much research, he was able to sketch out his concept and find independent designers and manufacturers at cost effective pricing through lots of legwork. The Sparrow iPhone case comes in five colors and five models. It can be pre-ordered at www.finchandmole.com for $39 each for shipment this summer. “The responses have been incredibly positive,” said Leslie.
Many will remember Leslie growing up in Rye and starting the annual Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease to raise awareness and funds for the disease. At 17, he was named one of America’s Top Ten Youth Volunteers and was honored by former first lady Laura Bush in Washington, D.C. Over the years that the event took place, more than $500,000 was raised. Leslie was also a Rye volunteer fireman.
Leslie has enjoyed creating his product and not surprisingly, more innovations are up his sleeve.