It looks like a pharmaceutical ad commonly aired on nearly every television channel. Mark McLachlan, a 2012 Union College graduate stares into the camera as he describes his fidgety downward spiral—first pens clicking and toe tapping, then “hitting rock bottom” when buying giant rolls of bubble wrap to pop.
His video, which has gone viral in the last few weeks, isn’t a YouTube spoof, but a pitch for his new product—the Fidget Cube. After four years of development, Antsy Labs, the company Mark formed with his brother, Matthew, introduced the Fidget Cube to the world on August 30 through a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15,000. In less than a month, they have raised more than $5 million dollars from 126,000 backers—making the project one of the top 50 most funded projects on Kickstarter.
The Fidget Cube is an all-in-one anxiety and worry relief device designed to be carried in a pocket wherever you go. Their Kickstarter page describes the cube as “an unusually addicting, high-quality desk toy designed to help you focus. Fidget at work, in class, and at home in style.”
The McLachlan brothers came up with the idea through their own personal experiences. They noticed they had trouble sitting still while in class, brainstorming, working on projects or sitting in meetings. They found that normal devices created exclusively to treat fidgeting were mostly directed to children, coming in bright colors and with bulky forms, not something appropriate for a work or office setting. They also only offered, at most, three different movements. “We believed there was a need for a fidgeting tool that anyone, from an elementary student to a CEO, would feel comfortable using, so we started designing Fidget Cube.” Mark said.
Normal means of hand held fidgeting or stress relief devices can do only one thing at a time, such as clicking a pen, rolling a pencil, or rubbing a worry stone. The Fidget Cube combines all methods into one. “This behavior isn’t one that should continue to be stigmatized and mocked as unbecoming or inappropriate,” the brothers explain on their Kickstarter. “We are passionate about the idea that fidgeting is a process that, with the right tools and outlet, can have positive and real-life applications.”
Shaped like a die, each side of the cube has a unique fidget quality. One side has a worry stone embedded for users to rub. One side has five buttons, three of which make clicking noises and two that are silent. Another side has tactical gears that can be spun and a small metal ball in a clickable socket. Another has a flickable light switch. Yet another side has a rotating dial, and next to that is a spinning joystick. It comes in several colors, including black, green, blue, pink and orange. There will also be a bonus design created by and voted for by the Kickstarter backers that has not yet been released.
According to Mark, engineering so many moving parts into the small cube has proven to be the biggest problem with development. They wanted it to be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. “We obsessed over every individual component until we felt the design was something that wouldn’t look out of place in a classroom or a boardroom.”
So far, Mark said the prototypes have helped manage his own floating attention challenges—he has been able to stay on task more easily without having to move too much. Although no scientific research has been done to determine the effectiveness of the Fidget Cube, Mark said numerous teams are interested in exploring it.
The Kickstarter campaign will end October 19, 2016, and the brothers plan to start shipping in December 2016. “It’s been truly overwhelming,” Mark said. “More than just the numbers, it’s been incredible to hear directly from so many individuals who’ve expressed how excited they are about the project and an idea that they didn’t even know they cared about a few weeks ago.”
Before launching the Kickstarter campaign, the brothers feared no one else would be interested in their project. Now with so many backers, the McLachlans feel the pressure to fill so many orders. However, they are confident they will be able to meet the demand and even sweetened the deal by giving free domestic shipping for orders of two or more and free worldwide shipping for orders of five or more.
“I’m going to attempt to say this without sounding agonizingly cliche,” said Mark when asked about advice to future graduates. “Always make sure you’re working toward something you love.” Mark graduated from Union with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with the intention of pursuing a career as a physician. After working his way through the rigid standards required to prepare for medical school, Mark realized he would never be happy in such a structured environment.
“Whatever you’re working on, make sure it’s something that will make you happy each day,” he said.
Read more abouy the Fidget Cube at www.antsylabs.com, or support the project on Kickstarter at www.kickstarter.com/projects/antsylabs/fidget-cube-a-vinyl-desk-toy
By Elizabeth Bearden, student writer