Startland News is continuing its “Fund Me, KC” series to highlight area entrepreneurs’ efforts to accelerate their businesses or lend a helping hand to others. This is an opportunity for business owners and innovators — like Akshay Dinakar and the launch of his Tangible “magical pillow” — to share their crowdfunding stories and potentially gain backing from new supporters.
Who are you?
My name is Akshay Dinakar and I’m the founder of Tangible, where we’re on a mission to help long-distance couples and families feel physically present across the world.
I’m a Shawnee Mission East alum (Class of 2015) who grew up in Lenexa and Prairie Village. I lost my mother (Dr. Chitra Dinakar, a former Children’s Mercy Hospital physician) to cancer at the start of COVID-19, and was kicked out of her hospital room due to pandemic visitor restrictions, leaving her to battle the disease on her own. All I wanted was to feel physically present by her side, but I was forced to rely on video calls, which were frustratingly 2D and made me feel even farther away from her. I couldn’t bear to see thousands of other families go through similar pain, and as a recent graduate from Stanford University’s design program, felt empowered to create a better solution.
Click here to read more about the origins of Tangible.
Tangible is a magical pillow that lets you share hugs, warmth, and physical touch with far-away loved ones. Pair the pillow with your phone or tablet to enjoy Teleportation Calls, which provide new ways to feel cozy and physically interact over distance. We’ve spent the past two years building, testing, and polishing Tangible with more than 200 couples and families, in order to get the design to a magical state. In the process, we’ve prototyped more than 50 iterations of the Tangible pillow experience!
Click here to learn about how Tangible’s product works.
Our founding team at Tangible is lucky and grateful to be supported by advisors from several renowned design organizations (including Apple, NASA, BMW, and IDEO), and multiple angel investors from Kansas City and the San Francisco Bay Area.
What does your campaign hope to accomplish?
We just finished manufacturing our first production batch of Tangible pillows, which will ship in time for the holidays! This campaign is a chance to celebrate our design journey to-date, and start helping as many distance-separated couples and families as possible.
Click here to explore the Tangible crowdfunding campaign or to order a Tangible pillow.
What’s your ‘why’?
130 million couples and families suffer from the pain of distance-separation. The pandemic highlighted an already existing “crisis of connection” in how current technology makes us feel even more distant from one other. Our goal at Tangible is design magical experiences of connection that put humans at the center, not computers.
One of our beta-testers put it best: “Tangible is a huge leap forward for long-distance relationships. Touch bracelets and stuffed animals have helped me feel connected, but Tangible achieves the impossible and actually lets me feel present.”
How much do you hope to raise with the crowdfunding campaign?
How do you plan to use the funds?
Funds from the campaign will help us ramp up manufacturing costs and scale distribution in 2023!
Anything else our readers should know about Tangible or this effort?
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.