If you are one of the vast majority of Americans who put a case on your smartphone, there’s a good chance yours was designed right here in this city.
Irvine is home to Incipio, which makes some of the most popular iPhone and Android cases in the world.
Founder Andy Fathollahi, who grew up in Orange County, started the company in his parents’ garage. Incipio grew with the rise of mobile devices, acquiring Incase (known among tech nerds for its bags) in 2015 and fellow accessory maker Griffin in 2016.
Though Incipio’s products are manufactured overseas, most of the company’s operations, like administration, design, sales, marketing and logistics, are handled at the Irvine headquarters. Thanks to its quality of life and educated workforce, Irvine has become a major tech hub in Southern California with more than 900 such companies.
Here’s a look at Incipio:
Tell me how the company was founded.
Fathollahi (chairman): Over 20 years ago, when there was a rise in mobile device usage, there was a lack of accessories that combined both function and style. Most durable cases lacked style and most stylish cases were not functional or protective. I believed I could create a better product. So, in 1999, I used an initial investment of $500 and founded what is now Incipio. One of my first products was a case for Palm Pilot.
Why Irvine and not Silicon Valley?
Fathollahi: It was natural to continue growing the company where it began, and I think there’s a great pool of talent in the area. A lot of tech startups and mobile industry businesses are based in Irvine and Southern California as well.
What sets your company apart from competitors?
Jason Schwartz (president, COO): With 20 years in the mobile industry and accessory business, our experience and speed to market is what sets us apart.
In tandem with two decades in the space, our portfolio of both owned and licensed brands, global distribution and strategic partnerships with mobile device manufacturers all play an integral part of our success and position in the market.
How has your industry changed and where is it headed?
Fathollahi: The mobile industry has advanced tremendously over the last decade. In today’s market, a new phone or tablet is being launched monthly across various handset manufacturers globally. The lifecycle of a smartphone is getting shorter, and customer demand is at an all‑time high.
I believe the future of mobile device technology will continue to grow and that handset manufacturers will adapt to include waterproofing, connectivity and more durability into their baseline product offerings.
What do you look for in your employees?
Schwartz: Incipio’s employees are a key component of the company’s success — they have a commitment to innovation and company growth.
We seek candidates that are dedicated and hardworking, adaptable, collaborative and are continuously looking to make improvements both personally and within the organization. Ideal candidates are true team players and are able to thrive cross-functionally to support multiple departments and functions.