10 Startups Fueled by Passion, Grit and Tenacity at 30 Weeks

Do you want to change the world? Are you foolish and ambitious enough to think you can? Are you interested in big things? Are you a problem solver and a connector of dots? Do you have some ideas and just need a little time and guidance to turn them into reality? Do you love (or hate) technology, and believe it could be better? Do you want to help people along the way? Are you always making, making, making? Do you have an itch to make it on your own? Have you ever wanted to leave everything behind to strike out on a new path? Is design your favorite language? Do you believe design can shape the future?

Over 500 designers said YES! and last year saw 16 brave, nascent entrepreneurs gathering in NYC to embark on their founder-journeys as part of 30 Weeks.

They went on to ideate, validate and iterate continuously for 30 weeks — and their passion, grit and tenacity birthed some truly amazing products.

Scroll away to find out what they’re building.

And if you’re curious to learn more about 30 Weeks, have a read of my reflections, thoughts and learnings from my time as Program Director in 30 Weeks: An experiment in teaching founderism by Hyper Island, Google and the NYC design schools

A snapshopt from the designers journey through the 30 Weeks Pilot

(Psst! Are you a nascent entrepreneur, itching to use your design-chops to build a startup? Apply for the next round of 30 Weeks before July 8, 2015.)

10: Slang

Slang is a sneaker marketplace that changes the way rare footwear enthusiasts buy, sell and browse kicks.


Recognizing that more than ever before, sneakers are bought and sold through social feeds and online communities, Slang helps sellers quickly create professional listings that they can post anywhere.

Of course, Slang isn’t just for selling kicks, it’s also the easiest way to browse and buy them, right on your iPhone. And you can buy with confidence, as Slang builds trust between buyers and sellers by verifying social accounts and contact information. Grab it in the App Store!

Founder Stephen Varady is a designer from Detroit. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon, but got his real design education in the studio of prominent New York City architect, Thomas Phifer.

09. Ananas

Ananas is an educational platform that enables children around the world to communicate, teach and experience each other’s language and culture.


Ananas cultivates communication and friendships between kids from around the world, creating a new kind of experience unavailable in today’s immense variety of children apps.

Founder Arielle Shekel was born in New York and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel since the age of 5. After completing her mandatory two year military service in the Israeli army as a camouflage painter, she studied Visual Communications at The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Arielle’s graduation project (2012) was the rebranding of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On April 1st 2015, her design became the official logo of the University.

08. PlayWell

PlayWell is a collaborative space for learning and experimenting with game development.


PlayWell started as a response to the harsh environment independent game development offers to both new creators and those deep in their process. Makers have access to courses, mentors, tools, events, and community. The goal is to bring independent makers out of their obscure, personal spaces and support them through their process.

Founder Collin Cummings is formerly the co-founder of theBrooklyn design studio WORK. Although trained in brand identity and interactive work his passion lies in the creative power of play.

07. TakeOver

TakeOver is an app that captures life’s most important moments from every angle.


It seamlessly connects any number of phones together and simultaneously snap a photo. The photos are then stitched together into an animation, and can be shared on any social network. Imagine seeing a hundred views of a concert you couldn’t attend or a dozen angles of your son blowing out the candles on his birthday. From selfies to group events, TakeOver is the most fun way to capture life’s experiences and events.

Founder Brett Pollack is a designer who has traversed the worlds of technology, design, and advertising. He has branded tech giants and launched multiple award-winning ad campaigns.

06. Bareo

Bareo is a smart food inventory app that helps emerging and established food entrepreneurs to track their pantries.


Bareo enables food businesses to track their inventory, get reminders before ingredients expire and restock ingredients directly from the app.

Founder Karen Timmermann is a graphic designer from Veracruz, Mexico. She received a BFA in Graphic Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

05. Anda

ANDA is a pollution mask that provides a superior experience and removes the stigma that exists around current consumer products.


Air pollution has emerged on the forefront of public consciousness. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 8 deaths globally is attributable to air pollution. While consumers are realizing a greater need to protect themselves, pollution masks as a solution have failed to evolve and satisfy consumer needs.

Founder Daniel Chu graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Industrial Design and concentration in Mechanical Engineering. He’s been designing innovative hardware and overseeing manufacturing in China for the past 10 years.

04. Objeto

Objeto is an e-commerce platform that connects artisan designers and makers from emerging markets with first world consumers.


Objeto aims to empower artisans to improve their lives through their craft.

Founder Gustavo Quintana hails from Guatemala and is a multidisciplinary designer, having touched architecture, interior design, product design and interactive design.

03. The Light Phone

The Light Phone is a credit card-sized mobile designed to be used as little as possible.


It makes and receives phone calls. No apps…that’s it. It works with your existing phone to allow you to comfortably disconnect, but still be reachable. Important calls forward, distractions don’t. The Light Phone is your phone away from phone.

Founder Joe Hollier studied design at the School of Visual Arts where he graduated as the valedictorian in 2012. Since then he’s been working as a freelance film maker, animator, illustrator and fine artist.

02. Homemade

Homemade is a platform that connects you to a nearby home cook for a healthy and thoughtful homemade meal.


It’s your Airbnb for food that allows you to order homemade food from almost anyone in your city.

Founder Kaiwei Tang has 10 years experience in product design and development in the mobile industry. As a product lead, he has traveled around the world to bring products to life. His background includes a master of design from the Institute of Design IIT, as well as a MBA. He believes in the importance of human centred design and enjoys solving real world problem with thoughtfully made products.

01. MOTI

MOTI is a personable new smart object that helps you form any habit you desire.


MOTI’s purpose is to help you practice good habits by offering tangible encouragement: It sits on your desk, lights up and vibrates to urge you along. MOTI is based in key insights from behavioral science, social robotics, and the quantified self movement. Super smart science stuff, wrapped up in a cute package to help us all be better.

Founder Kayla Matheus is a designer, engineer, entrepreneur, and dreamer. Since her days as a double major in art and mechanical engineering at Yale University, she has always been a wearer of many hats. Before MOTI, Kayla helped shape the creation of the Yale Center for Engineering, Innovation, and Design, was a Fellow with Design for America, an instructor of design thinking at Northwestern, as well as a product designer at both the corporate and consultancy scale.

Sveinung Skaalnes is an Advisor to 30 Weeks and was the founding Program Director. He is part of Hyper Island’s R&D team prototyping and incubating the future of education.

30 Weeks is an experiment in teaching founderism. The program is operated by Hyper Island, and supported by Google in partnership with The School of Visual Arts, Parsons, Pratt Institute, The Cooper Union and some of the smartest minds in design, tech, business and venture capital.