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  • Writer's picturePuriphico

at age 15, I founded a tech startup. here's what I learned.

The story of how I, a 15-year-old with no tech background, founded a tech startup to help my community battle the COVID-19 virus.

What I learned from my experiences, and how I hope to share them with you!

Hi there! My name is Adrian, and I am a 15-year-old from Los Angeles, California with a tech startup. In this article, I will first tell you my story, then I will elaborate on what I hope to accomplish with these articles. I hope that my title captured your attention, and it would mean the world to me if you would take a moment out of your busy day to read this article to its full length. Thanks!

Please note!

I’m on the platform to offer value to anyone who reads my articles. If you don’t find them informative or entertaining, the least you can do is let me know! I don’t want to keep writing uninformative articles because then I will be wasting both my time AND your time.

On the other hand, if you find my articles interesting and informative, let me know! The internet is for communication and the spread of information, so please don’t be afraid to chat with me!

Before discussing what I hope to accomplish with my articles (on Medium, Hacker News, AND my personal blog, I would first like to give you a brief background about myself:

My name is Adrian, and I am a 15-year-old from Los Angeles, California. Throughout my entire life, I have always taken great interest in science (hang with me here) and have pursued many fun engineering projects on my own time - outside of school. One of these projects I decided to turn into a startup, called Puriphico, after receiving a lot of interest from my community, school, friends, etc. about the idea. I hope to use Medium as a means of sharing my experiences throughout this journey: what I have learned and how I hope to give back by teaching others. In this article, I’ll take you through my story, explaining my biggest areas of growth that I think deter many people from commencing their own entrepreneurial (or even engineering) journey. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I will answer them!

My story:

Towards the end of my 8th grade school year, there was an event called project week - a week in which all the students worked solely on a project outside of school. Being the unnecessary overachiever that I am, I decided I wanted to push myself that week, and I sought to build something that could carry a positive impact in my community while testing the limits of my creativity and ingenuity. When standing in the restroom line at a local coffee shop one day, I witnessed the absurdly little time people spent washing their hands after using the restroom. Watching them grip an egg sandwich before shoving it in their mouth after hardly washing their hands made me nauseous: not only was it gross, it was unsafe, to say the very least. I won’t say the idea hit me at once, but over the next few days, I found myself hung up on the issue, envisioning various prototypes of my new device. What device was I envisioning, exactly? Good question: the device, implemented in a sink faucet, would help someone properly wash their hands by, first, detecting the user’s presence using visual and auditory sensors and, second, clocking their handwashing with visual LED cues. After the user has washed their hands for 20 seconds (the sufficient amount of time recommended by the CDC to remove all harmful pathogens from the hands), the device would flash a green light three times, indicating that you are good to go! When I first explained the concept to some of my advisors, they were skeptical about the concept, but they approved my project. The following week, I gave my presentation to the school board, parents, students, and many other people. (read about the device here.)

I was proud of my apparent success in completing the device so quickly, but I didn’t stop there; over the last three years, I have still been iterating the prototype, making entirely new versions, and improving on previous generations. The process has taught me many things: how to use embedded systems, how to program, how circuits work, how to make custom PCB’s with my own circuit designs, how to 3D model/print, how to build a website, and much more. If you want to learn more about my device, visit this article.

But wait: I just glossed over possibly the most difficult part of my journey - that first week, where I tasked myself with learning to program and use circuits, implement my new knowledge, and design a presentation all in one week. Like they say, the hardest part is always the start, which, understandably, is why most people never start. Luckily for me, I had committed myself to the project and could not afford to quit, so that first week, I put my head down and read, learning everything I possibly could about everything I might need to know. Since then, I have improved upon my skills, and I feel ready to share my product with the world, as well as the skills necessary to build it.

What do I mean when I say this?

I have experienced firsthand many of the challenges that people try to avoid when doing something new: most people are afraid of trying something new because they are afraid of making mistakes and breaking their comfort zone. While I can’t directly help with the fear and motivate you, I can help in providing the groundwork for building your own electronic products (or products in general). This education will make your goals much more attainable and, as a result, less scary! If a 13-year-old could do it, you certainly can, and I hope to help you along your own personal journey.

How will I do this?

I found the best way to learn is by doing. Before learning to build my device, I went and found other projects to copy so that I could practice implementing what I had read in my books; then, when I felt ready, I leaped into my own project: the assimilation of all the knowledge I had accumulated from my prior experiences. Therefore, I hope to teach you the basics of electronic products through the lens of my handwashing device. I will teach you how to build every prototype, ranging in difficulty from easiest to hardest. Throughout the process, you will learn and understand circuits, programming, PCBs, 3D modeling/printing, and much more so that when you are ready to build your own product, you can do so as if it were second nature.

No, there is no course you have to pay for or anything like that - all the tutorials will be posted on my website (the Build-Your-Own page) and my YouTube channel - I will even write blog posts summarizing the content of each tutorial, which will be published on my website as well as Medium and Hacker News. If you are interested in building your own exciting projects, subscribe to my website and YouTube channel and follow me on Medium and Instagram, where I will be posting weekly tutorials and updates. I am still in school, so some weeks the workload may be too large to post a video, but I will do my best to remain consistent!

Thanks for reading to the end! While this article focused primarily on my startup’s mission of education, our other mission is to innovate devices to limit the spread of disease; if you support either of these causes, I would be very appreciative if you could take a second to ‘applaud’ this article and subscribe to my website; most importantly, though, I would ask you to share this article with someone who you know would be interested. Expect a lot of fun and exciting content in the coming weeks!

And don’t forget, I’m happy to answer all questions in the comments!

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