Michelle HammondFollow on twitter www.startupsmart.com.au
13-year-old Melbourne girl designs iPad-inspired “padpod”
A 13-year-old schoolgirl is the brains behind an iPad-inspired product dubbed the padpod, which recently launched in the Australian market with the help of a local manufacturer.
The padpod is a support cushion for tablets, eReaders and smartphones. It enables the user to prop up their device wherever they are.
It was designed by Ellie Robinson, a 13-year-old girl from Melbourne. Ellie designed the product for her grandmother, who found it difficult to read on her iPad at a comfortable angle.
Using her mother’s sewing machine, Ellie says she spent “not very long at all” on the design.
“I couldn’t sew much so it had to be just a couple of straight lines,” she says.
Padpods are made from polyester and spandex and come filled with beans. They differ to other iPad supports due to their pyramid shape, which creates a stable platform.
The padpod can be used on a table or desk, while lying in bed or sitting in an armchair.
In addition to mobile devices, it can be used to prop up books, such as cookbooks, or as a pillow while travelling.
The weight of the device holds it in place on the padpod naturally, so there is no need for straps or adhesives.
After making padpods for her friends and family, Ellie and her family decided to start selling them. She and her mother, Jenny Robinson, went in search of a manufacturer.
They found one, A Plus Schoolwear, in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg.
“We wanted to make it in Australia because we like the idea of supporting local employment, so we’re determined to keep it in Australia for as long as we can,” Jenny says.
“Our business advisor told us to make it in China to make it cost-effective, but I wanted the family to see we can support local employment.”
“[A Plus Schoolwear] took us on partly because it was their quiet time of year. If I’d gone to them now, they wouldn’t have been interested in us because they’re too busy.”
A Plus Schoolwear arranged an initial run of 1,500 padpods, and the Robinsons set up a website for online sales.
The family recently ordered their second batch of padpods, and continue to fund the business themselves. They have big plans for the product.
“I’m dreaming of getting into the conferencing market and the corporate gift market… The other thing I’m interested in at the moment, which is another whole area, is the healthcare industry – children’s hospitals and things like that,” Jenny says.