The Story behind our iPad cases and bags

My name is Serge Pylkovas. I am the founder of Strotter and the creator of Across and Platforma.

In January of 2011 I was riding a subway train in Boston. All seats were taken. There was that guy standing next to me, holding an iPad in his left hand and using his right hand to navigate. Then the train suddenly jerked and stopped. The guy dropped his iPad. The next morning I woke up with an idea of a suspended iPad case - so that the iPad is protected from a fall, and hands are free to type.

I decided to turn the idea into reality. The first prototype was made of a piece of plywood, four wood screws, and used a camera strap. Crude as it was, it proved that the concept worked. Not only that, I also discovered that the case turns into a sling-type backpack with a simple swing and pull of the strap. Then I used a donor case I bought to experiment with to further improve the design. I also found a perfect solution for the shoulder strap, using a sliding cam buckle. At the same time I was educating myself on the construction and functionality of existing iPad cases.

In a couple of weeks since the inception of the case I realized that the design concept could be extended to a compact messenger bag. I again bought a cheap donor bag, and made a working prototype. There were some messenger bags for iPad on the market, but nothing like what I had envisioned. Among other things, I chose to use a magnetic closure of the flap and also use magnets to attach the iPad -in a special snap-on case-  to eliminate buckles, zippers or velcro.

Later, the slim hands-free iPad case was named Across, and the messenger bag received the name Platforma.

I decided not to compete in the very crowded market of $20 cases and instead create a premium, high-end brand, where I would not have to make compromises between quality and price. I wanted the products to compliment the finesse of the iPad itself. I wanted the customer to have the feeling that the thing they are holding in hands is not just some generic piece, but something really special. I did not want to settle for the run-of-the-mill. I wanted to be proud of every unit. I wanted the best materials, such as full grain leather and high density smooth nylon, and extreme attention to details. I wanted custom, polished hardware. My friends often joke I am borderline OCD. I really am not, but I do pay attention to details most people do not see. (Even our PU Across SL is made exceptionally well). Time will tell whether this was a smart move.

Then the race started. It would take a book to cover the adventure. May be someday. It took a lot of time, efforts, money, sleepless nights, optimism and several iterations of design to get to the finish line. I traveled domestically and internationally, spoke and met with sample-makers, suppliers, designers, attorneys, agents, customs brokers, logistics companies. Only after four failed attempts I found the factory I decided to trust the production. (Some very well known and very, very high-end designers had their leather goods manufactured there).  I lived in China for three months while the bags were being made, spending almost every day on the factory floor, preventing and correcting production issues. I spent time in Hong-Kong and South Korea, visited suppliers, textile factories and tanneries...

It was an exciting journey - from a wooden prototype to the first real production units, leather, polished custom hardware and all, to the first container. I met many people and made new friends. I learned a lot.
In 2015 we started to move production of our leather line to Florence, Italy. The Silicone Valley of Leather, as the Italians call the area. The first cases for iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 12.9 landed in the US in May of 2016. Now all of our leather cases are made in Italy.
Did we succeed in our quest to create the ultimate iPad case and messenger bag?

We think we did. Our customers say they love our products. We have virtually no returns. It probably means something, considering we a have a 45 days return policy and a lifetime warranty (when bought here at  Platforma has won the MacObserver Editor's Choice Award at Macworld 2013 in San Francisco. Many publications, including New York Times, MacObserver, Financial Times have commented on the functionality, quality and elegance of our products.

You be the judge.

Thank you for reading this.
Serge Pylkovas, CEO.
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