The Leatherman of Device Holders: Meet the Gerp
Paul Liniger’s online aggregate tag line is “Proudly Portland.” It’s a message that fits: Liniger is a native Portlander; he makes it a point to have as many parts of the Gerp made in Portland as possible (which is most); he networks, promotes and collaborates locally with other suppliers and small manufacturers, and aspires to be able to have the Gerp available to Portland’s ever-widening groups of tech nerds, small retail outlets and outdoor enthusiasts.
As so often happens, the invention started out as a study in personal problem-solving: While running his landscaping business in the early 2000s, Liniger used his tablet a lot for reading and making sketches. It was hard to hold it in one hand and take notes or draw with the other. He longed to have a device that could function as a handle/holder/stand. Totally unrelated (or so he thought at the time), he previously joked about creating a “Handle Plate,” in order to have a handle that made for easier eating when on the couch, outdoors or otherwise not at a table. The prototype was an old bird perch attached to the bottom of a plate. It worked so well, he started thinking again about his dilemma with his tablet. He bought a selection of random parts (“including windshield mounts”), and started experimenting.
Liniger tested the first prototype continually and most recently uses it at the Beaverton Farmers Market and at Bull Run Distillery’s tasting room. This allows him to see how well it works “in real time.” The solid and comfortable hand-held mount is paired with electronic tablets and smartphones to process credit card sales; it has proven to be a huge success, both durable and comfortable to use.
Liniger was suddenly off and running. With help from a successful Crowd Supply campaign, he got the seed money to go into production.
The Gerp is “sort of like a Leatherman,” says Liniger. It functions as a handle or stand that can be attached to a tablet or camera, making it adaptable for many different uses and in many different settings. “It is more tough and rugged, not polished and pretty,” he says, but his goal is to create a useful tool that will withstand a lot of wear and be affordable.
The Gerp can function as a hands-free stand for a smart phone, iPad or tablet; as a tripod for a camera; as a suction windshield mount for a GoPro camera. Liniger is forever trying to improve on the design, come up with more useful attachments and accessories to expand its use. But every change takes a lot of work, and the progress is steady but slow. Liniger doesn’t mind. He says his watchwords are patience, perseverance and positivity.
“I am passionate about everything I do,” he says.