Daniel Haarburger’s portable iDevice stand generates tech world interest
If you try to reach Daniel Haarburger ’14 on his cell phone and he doesn’t automatically relegate your call to voicemail, his reply will invariably be a businesslike, “Hi. This is Daniel.”
This professional response is not the result of a lack of social wherewithal, but is rather the upshot of the fact that he receives business calls on a regular basis. While the rest of the student body has been enjoying The Dish at Arrillaga and bemoaning the onset of rain season, this Boulder, Colo. native and soon to be product design major has been — and will be for the rest of fall quarter — in his home state, attending meetings with potential investors and courting large retailers interested in his most recent brainchild — the WINGStand.
The WINGStand is an injection-molded clip made from recycled plastic, which allows one to attach most portable devices to an Apple wireless keyboard. It garnered recognition from WIRED and a host of other technology review websites and received $58,869 in seed money from 1,485 backers — far exceeding the original target of $9,600.
The WINGStand isn’t Haarburger’s first project.
“I’ve always been kind of a builder,” Haarburger said in a phone interview with The Daily. “Creating things has always made me happy.”
Haarburger received a first scroll saw at the age of eight, and in subsequent years he took to simply “making stuff.” However, as he got older, his love for physical creations coupled with entrepreneurial drive. The result was the birth of Mundi Treeworks in his junior year of high school, a woodworking company that uses excess lumber and hardwood salvaged from large manufacturers to make cabinets, guitars and artisan cutting boards sold to customers throughout Colorado.
His most recent projects have run the gamut from refugee tents to bike mounts and an online library subscription to ebooks and editorials. He is also pursuing Mobile Change, a system that would utilize cell phones to create a direct link between debtors and loan providers and the Buetos Backpack, a backpacking bag for adventure travelling.
However, many of those projects were put on hold after the advent of the WINGStand, which, ironically, started out as a side project.
“I had received an iPad for Christmas, and I wanted a bit more functionality considering that I wasn’t really using it at all. So I created the WINGStand as something for personal use,” Haarburger said. “It turns out that it was a product people actually wanted.”
The enterprise quickly snowballed as Haarburger received requests from personal acquaintances for the innovative product, which led him to believe that it could be a success in a very specific and little-exploited niche in the accessory market. The closest competition was a few less-ergonomic keyboard docks. Using Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects and the help of a couple close friends and advisors, Haarburger created the WINGStand.
“It was very easy to execute,” he said. “The other projects that I was working on required a lot of upfront capital…the WINGstand project only needed a few thousand dollars in seed money.”
Today, an injection molding company based in Olney, Ill. is churning out WINGStands to supply mounting orders, and Haarburger is looking to take advantage of the holidays to generate the proceeds with which he plans to build a brand and fund future products.