68. Andrew Hsu

Founder of Airy Labs, How To Build An App That Resonates

What:

Educational apps for kids such as Mini Minute, in which a player shoots monsters while learning to tell time


How do you start planning?

"I move around a lot. I draw on whiteboards. I think brainstorming is good, but also I go to a private place to work, or I go outside. I've started the habit of walking meetings. I walk the person around the block and we talk along the way."

How do you make good first impressions?

"Parents are the ones holding the credit cards to pay for the app, but I think it's important that the push is not just from the parents' side. We want to make it attractive and fun for the kids, otherwise we could just be designing textbooks."

What are you doing to keep your app relevant?

"We solicit endless feedback. We even have a feedback option inside our apps that people can type in. We always ask, How do kids interact with these devices? What do they want? How can we make the interface understandable?"

Click here to see head-to-head responses to these questions from Hsu, plus Path designer Danny Trinh, and Karma CEO Lee Linden, Nos. 66 and 67 on our Most Creative People list.

Timeline

  • 2001

    At age 10, begins to conduct molecular biology research at a pathology lab at the University of Washington

  • 2003

    Officially matriculates at the University of Washington at age 12

  • 2007

    At 16, graduates from the University of Washington with degrees in biochemistry, chemistry and neurobiology and a minor in mathematics

  • 2007

    Starts PhD in neuroscience at Stanford University

  • 2011

    Drops out of Stanford as fourth-year PhD candidate; becomes a Thiel Fellow and starts working on Airy Labs

  • 2011

    Founds Airy Labs

  • 2011

    Raises $1.5 million in seed funding for Airy Labs and starts operations in Palo Alto

Interactive

Illustration by Alison Cowles

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