Luxury homebuilder Tim Tassin tinkered with an invention for five years. The Cabidor is winning awards, but will that translate to financial success?
Tim Tassin hustles a visitor to a place in his house where his wife wouldn't like you to be: their bedroom.
(She's out shopping for groceries, but we won't tell.)
Tassin watches your reaction carefully as he swings open the Cabidor, a giant cabinet that hangs on the hinges of his master bathroom door. Sixteen inches wide, 4 inches deep and nearly 6 feet tall, the Cabidor is found space for storage-obsessed Americans. Its design is so sleek that it fits neatly behind most any door without being noticeable, with room for enough stuff to fill six medicine cabinets.
Tassin estimates he and his family have spent an estimated $80,000 on the Cabidor project since they started working on it in 2007. It's taken five years to perfect the design and patent it.
Obtaining a patent on the Cabidor was an excruciatingly long process, made tougher by the fact that Tassin was running two luxury homebuilding companies: Design Build of Naples and Triumph Development. “Construction comes first,” he says. “That's why it's taken us five years to bring this to market.”
But Tassin has high hopes for the Cabidor. “The patent alone is worth millions,” he says.
The heart of the patent is the fact that you can easily hang the cupboard on existing door hinges. “The whole idea is not to have screws into the wall,” he explains.
So far, the product has collected first-place trophies at industry trade shows. It won Best Overall Product at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago from the United Investors Association of America in March, for example.
A carpenter by training, Tassin has installed thousands of doors. He's been selling the Cabidor on his website (cabidor.com) for $199.99, often installing them for Naples-area customers to find out how they like and use the product. “It's 99% women,” he notes, and they're buying three or four at a time to stash toys, wrapping paper and other household items.
Tassin says the Cabidor is currently being made in Pakistan, but he's found a manufacturer in China and could import thousands at a time if he can sign enough agreements with home-improvement retailers, television shopping channels and catalogues. Another route would be to sign a licensing agreement with a manufacturer or distributor.
Still, Tassin, 55, is reluctant to give up control of the company he started with his brother, Mike Tassin, 56, and his son, Chris Tassin, 30. “We put in all the effort,” he says. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Tassin isn't too keen on investors taking a big chunk of the company in exchange for capital he might need if big orders start coming in. “We don't want to dilute our shares,” he says.
If a big order came in, Tassin says he's discussed sharing profits with an angel investor who would finance the deal. “As soon as we can self-finance, we will.”