Ann Arbor Startup Offers Phone Case With Retractable Headphones

ANN ARBOR — Do you hate it when you dig in your bag for what feels like forever, only to pull out a tangled mess of headphones?

The Ann Arbor startup TurtleCell offers a solution for the frustration of tangled, broken and lost headphones – the first protective case for the iPhone 5 and 5s with retractable headphones.

The case will be available for pre-order on June 3 at Pre-orders include a discounted price of $39.95 — $10 off retail price — and will be available in black, grey, red and aqua.

The company said all orders will be delivered in October.

TurtleCell is the first case of its kind with premium, in-ear headphones built into the case. Retracting the headphones is simple – just press a button on the side of the case. With a full-length set of headphones and ample protection, the TurtleCell maintains a thin profile with only 7mm of added thickness.

The headphones come standard with a microphone and full button control for safe, hands-free calling. Utilizing the phone’s normal functionality is seamless with the snap of a switch, which allows you to engage or disengage the headphones. Subtle texture combined with a sleek pattern provides an enhanced grip without sacrificing pocketability.

To ensure a full-scale launch, TurtleCell has partnered with Digital Treasures, an established mobile accessories manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Michigan, with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. The two companies unveiled the TurtleCell at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, resulting in huge international interest from retailers. They expect the TurtleCell to be available nationwide by the 2014 holiday season.

The company, founded by three twenty-somethings passionate about music and exceptional listening quality, was supported by several economic development organizations focused on assisting startups in Michigan including Ann Arbor Spark, the MSU Innovation Center, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s First Customer Program, which provides services to help startups reach their first customers.

“As a group of audiophiles, we were challenged to meet our own expectations for both sound and aesthetics,” said TurtleCell co-founder Paul Schrems. “After years of development we have something that is truly unique, functional and sexy.”

TurtleCell is set on embracing its young startup culture by delivering entertaining content to fans, including WTF’s, (short for Weekly Turtle Facts), a live Twitter feed highlighting tangle haters worldwide, and a “Tur-Torial” video.

After spending the entire walk between classes untangling headphones, Paul Schrems tried to buy a product to cure his frustration. Disappointed by the lack of available solutions, the lead product designer for TurtleCell decided to focus his engineering expertise on designing a product that incorporated headphones into a protective case. The next two years included 33 unique design iterations, five business pitch competitions, intense fundraising, and talent recruitment. Schrems now serves as the director of product development responsible for product creation, testing and supplier relations and is joined by Nick Turnbull, director of business development and Jeremy Lindlbauer, director of marketing.

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