Meet Some Of The First Grads From High School Startup Prodigy Camp: GiraffeLabs

In Austin, the three-week crash course teaches teams of teentrepreneurs how to launch a product–and maybe even a business–from scratch.

When you bring your tablet into bed with you–say, to watch a movie–which position do you settle for? Do you prop yourself up on one elbow and hold up the tablet with your free hand? Do you balance the tablet against a pillow and hope it doesn’t slip? Or do you lie on your back and hold it up in the air with both hands till you can’t feel your arms and the tablet bonks you on the head?


An Austin-based teenage duo is trying to sell the Kickstarter community on their solution to your bedroom woes: The GiraffeStand, an iPad mount that clamps to your headboard and swivels and pivots for hands-free viewing.

Advaith Anand, 15, and Scott Davidson, 16, both high school juniors, conceived of, designed, and prototyped the GiraffeStand over the course of three weekends last August, when they and two teammates were part of the inaugural class of High School Startup. The Austin-based program, from 3 Day Startup cofounder Jeremy Guillory, accepts students ages 19 and under and offers mentorship and instruction to help small teams of young entrepreneurs design, build, and launch new software or physical products in just three weeks. In its first graduating class, High School Startup had 20 students across four teams with different interests, from music to competitive robotics, that influenced their projects.

Because students have a limited amount of time to bring their visions to reality, they’re also instructed in the basic principles of Eric Ries’s Lean Startup methodology, which prizes constant iteration and quickly deployed minimum viable products that help entrepreneurs jump-start the learning process.

One of High School Startup’s rules for the projects it greenlights is that the finished items need to solve a problem at least 100 people have. Anand and Davidson, who have rechristened themselves GiraffeLabs and now work as a team of two, had a hunch they weren’t the only ones to have a problem with using iPads in bed. To confirm that suspicion, they conducted dozens of field interviews and set up shop in the furniture section of a local Macy’s, where they invited iPad-owning shoppers to test out a prototype they had set up on one of the display beds.


The results left the pair with several changes to their final prototype design. For example, they swapped out an earlier idea for the GiraffeStand that called for suction cups for one that used a more secure clamp mechanism to attach to a bed. And one of those Macy’s testers happened to be an Apple Store manager who helped them set a reasonable base price point of $45 per stand.


Okay, so the GiraffeStand clearly wasn’t designed by Yves Béhar. But with a dose of design finesse, it’s not inconceivable that we could someday see GiraffeStand-like contraptions for hospitals, airplanes, or cars. Of the four teams that launched out of High School Startup, GiraffeLabs is by far the furthest along in meeting its December 13 fundraising target of $4,000 to create an initial run of at least 50 stands. If all goes well, Kickstarter could be just the beginning for the young duo. Their mentor and High School Startup founder Guillory, is a Founders 50 honoree who has ties to young-entrepreneur-loving Peter Thiel.

[Image: Flickr user Philip Howard]

About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.