There are currently more than 1,200 different wallets featured on Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website.
There is a paper wallet that holds a notebook and pen, luxury leather wallets handcrafted in Europe, a wallet billed as “the world’s tiniest,” a wallet with an “unlimited” number of card slots and a wallet made out of hard wood.
In fact, there even is an article on kickstarter.com calling out this billfold phenomenon, with the headline, “Why are there so many wallets on Kickstarter?” The ultimate answer of the author: “We all want a better wallet.”
Capitalizing on the wallet obsession of, apparently, a great many people, Pittsburgher Max Frischman, 23, has joined with his Virginia Tech fraternity brother Ari Horowitz, 25, to launch Vessel, a wallet that allows easy access to cards through a swiping motion inspired by cellphones, as well as a hidden compartment perfect for protecting medications, keys — and condoms.
Horowitz, an industrial design major originally from Long Island, came up with the idea for Vessel after he was given a class prompt to come up with a device that protected something, he said. So he started conducting surveys and research, asking others to name an everyday object they carry around that is susceptible to damage, and “a couple people mentioned condoms.
“I began with that idea,” Horowitz continued. “It was kind of a silly project, but one thing led to another, and I got a lot of good feedback. I decided to develop a wallet that allowed you to protect things that you might just put in your pocket.”
“It’s not just a condom wallet,” he explained. “That’s just how the idea began. It has turned into a wallet with areas to carry around all your stuff.” Vessel is constructed out of aluminum, so its contents are well-protected, even when its user sits down, avoiding “wear and tear” on the wallet’s contents.
The swiping motion of retrieving cards, Horowitz said, “is very intuitive. There are lots of wallets that allow easy access to one card, but with Vessel, there is easy access to more than one card.”
Horowitz and Frischman, a 2011 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, decided to launch their Kickstarter campaign for a wallet after research showed that the most funded projects on the site were, in fact, wallets. And their Kickstarter campaign has been successful. With 14 days to go, Vessel already had 350 backers and had exceeded its $20,000 goal by $5,000.
The hidden compartment in Vessel can hold a variety of objects, noted Frischman, who now works for his historically Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, as its director of high school engagement. And the wallet is just as useful to women as it is to men.
“Ari’s girlfriend uses the secret compartment for her jewelry, earring backs, rings and change,” he explained. “She can throw it in her purse, and it has everything she needs, or she can just take the wallet and not use a purse.”
The wallet, which also sports a convenient money clip on its back, comes in a variety of colors. Backers can expect to receive their wallets in April.
Once the crowdfunding campaign concludes, said Horowitz, the plan is to mass produce the Vessels and sell them through online retail, as well as in some select brick-and-mortar stores.
“I wanted to get the experience of creating a product straight out of school,” said Horowitz. “The wallet is a great project, and it has minimal components that make manufacturing a lot simpler. It’s been a great learning tool.”
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.