Starting Up In The iPad Garage



It’s happened so often before, it’s almost cliche.  Or, in Silicon Valley, “legendary” might be the better term.  A small group of Stanford graduate students take a break from their studies and come up with an idea that rocks the tech industry.  We saw it with Sun Microsystems, we saw it with Yahoo!, and we saw it with Google.

In the case of the just-launched Pulse app, it’s two guys (like Yahoo! and Google), but this time on a different platform: The iPad.
Here’s a look at the app in action: www.qik.com/budman  It’s already sold thousands of downloads — you can search the iTunes store to find it.

It comes from Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta, grad students studying, respectively, electrical engineering and computer science.  But they’re also hanging out at the Stanford Design Institute, getting inspiration from the likes of founder David Kelley, famous around these parts for starting legendary design studio IDEO.  In a matter of weeks, the duo came up with a plan for Pulse, put a mock-up on an iPad, road-tested it in nearby Palo Alto coffee shops, and got Apple approval.

Now, they’re making money, $4 at a time, are already being circled by potential investors — and they’re still two weeks from graduation.  No need yet for buildings, employees, healthcare, or Sarbanes-Oxley.  Ah, to be young.

Meanwhile, Pulse is a news aggregator of sorts, pulling in a variety of websites (you decide which ones) in an easy-to-read format. You get whatever news you want, whenever you want it, without having to surf around the web to reach your favorites. The app looks especially good on Apple’s 10-inch screen.  Akshay and Ankit say they’re trying to come up with a way to make the experience just as good on an iPhone, with its smaller screen.

For his part, Kelley is as proud as a parent.  “The most amazing thing is, they’re doing things that they feel have impact on the world, and have social value,” he says.  As for the Stanford legend? “I think these kids think ‘founder’ of anything is the highest thing you can attain.”

Worked pretty well for Jerry, David, Sergei and Larry.

Scott is always looking for cool startups. You can find him on Twitter @scottbudman