Going with the Grain: Alum Eric Rea
A sleek product like the iPad deserves accessories that are equally suave: hardworking with a look fit for the office’s C-suite. Blending mechanical prowess with beautiful natural materials, Eric Rea and his company, FineGrain, are finding a lot of backers for their refined and thoughtful designs.
The company was created when Rea, a 2012 information systems grad, met Levi Price through their student jobs on campus. Rea had an idea for a product and was looking for an industrial design major—like Price—who could help him pull it off. The two launched their first product on Kickstarter in 2012: the Bowden iPad case, a sleek case that provides complete protection for the device, crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, hand-finished hardwood, and genuine leather. After being featured on several tech websites, FineGrain exceeded its fundraising goal of $20,000 with 180 backers.
Following the same minimalist organic design principles that led to their previous success, Rea and Price launched their second product, the Coburns iPad stand, on Kickstarter this past winter. The name of the product comes from Rea’s family tree—part of FineGrain’s tradition of giving a nod to their ancestors with the name of each new product. Originally targeted for $5,000, the Coburns project brought in a total of $21,937 from backers.
“The Coburns was a small project, and we were fortunate that almost one thousand people liked the idea enough to back it with their own money,” says Rea, who managed and promoted the campaign. “We take a really hands-on approach with our Kickstarter projects and make sure that we have personal contact with each of our backers. Kickstarter is a great opportunity for us to get our new products out there and for potential distributors to take notice.”
Rea keeps busy as he runs the day-to-day business needs—handling marketing, customer support, PR, sales, and accounting.
“We have several new products we will be releasing in the near future with FineGrain,” he says, “so that takes up a lot of my time. The goal is to make FineGrain my full-time job.”
Prior to the launch of the Coburns, Rea’s job took him far from Provo to Vienna, Austria, where he handled web and application development for the International Atomic Energy Agency. While there he played on the Vienna basketball team at the United Nations Inter-Agency Games in Valencia, Spain, where the team took second place.
Now back on familiar soil in Provo, Rea enjoys snowboarding, practicing yoga, trying new foods, traveling with his wife, Kimmi, and, of course, playing the occasional game of basketball.