Tangeez – A Maker Faire Success Story

Now that we know what the Maker Movement is all about, and we’ve learned a little about how organizations are using the movement to inspire creativity in kids, we wanted to feature a couple of makers who have…MADE IT.  Emily Webster and Mustafa Bagdatli, creators of Tangeez have taken their idea from hand-made prototype to manufactured product. Here’s their story…

“Tangeez are a set of light-up building blocks that change COLOR as you stack them.  Circular in shape, individually powered and internally ILLUMINATED, Tangeez are both an interactive toy and design object.”

About four years ago, Emily and Mustafa were walking down the street when Mustafa had an idea: “I want to make a light up Lego”. He and Emily had discussed other light-based ideas before, but this was the first idea that they believed could become a product. Emily, an Architect by training and Audio-Visual-Media Designer by profession, and Mustafa, a Creative Technologist and Experience Designer, had worked together on media installations in the past and had the experience to make this “physical pixel” a reality.

The first prototype of was “very hand made”, says Emily. Both the light technology and the housing were made of simple off-the-shelf items, like LED lights and acrylic tubing, that Emily and Mustafa assembled into working models. They weren’t sure what to expect when they debuted their prototype at Maker Faire New York in 2012, but it turned out to be an overwhelming success. People were so enthralled by Tangeez that they wouldn’t leave the table. “Kids were crying when their parents finally made them leave”, says Emily. The prototype was a hit with both kids and adults, and proved that it could be a viable product.

After their success at Maker Faire, Emily and Mustafa were selected as finalists for New York’s Next Top Makers studio incubation program, designed to put New Yorkers at the forefront of the independent innovation boom. This program provided a stipend that allowed Emily and Mustafa to create more refined prototypes and materials to share on KickStarter. Once their refined prototypes and video content was ready, they launched Tangeez on Kickstarter. In only 30 days, they raised over $50,000 to produce a mold that would allow them to begin manufacturing Tangeez through injection molding.

Since their Kickstarter campaign, Tangeez has sold 5,000 individual units (including those sold through the Kisckstarter campaign). They are excited about the possibility of going beyond the web, and selling to stores. And that’s not the end of the road – Emily and Mustafa intend to continue prototyping new models and are considering different sizes, programmable units, and even sound responsive devices. Just like their original prototype, any new prototypes will be hand-made. Emily says that “prototyping goes a long way”, and advises makers to share ideas as a physical form because it will get you further than a rendering.

To learn more about Tangeez, check them out on the web at

This week, in honor of the Maker Movement, Cloudberry Studio will be giving away a set of Tangeez to one lucky reader!

TO ENTER the giveaway, go to Cloudberry Studio’s Facebook page

and answer the following question in the Comments section of this post:

How have you or your organization engaged in the Maker Movement?


One entry per person, please.

The winner will be drawn at random from the comments.

We will announce the winner on our Facebook page next Monday, Nov. 24th!

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