We may have the latest Rubik’s Cube or Fidget Spinner here. ZipString is similarly addictive and enthralling. The idea itself is simple: the ZipString gently floats a loop of string in the air. From there, it balances gravity, lift, tension and drag to create different shapes from how you (the Zipster) move and what contours it mimics. The possibilities are endless, which is what makes it so hard to stop once you start with the ZipString!
Stephan Fazio made the very first version of the ZipString. Stephan was studying for an electrical engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, his hometown. He entered his gadget, the “string shooter,” and won the advanced category. He had planned to refine it during summer break, but it took too much of his time and money; and he had run into a brick wall as far as how to solve the various problems.
Meanwhile, Austin Hillam was at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, studying manufacturing engineering. He went home to John’s Creek, Georgia, for the summer and was designing and engineering new technology for the piano industry and adding to his knowledge of both CAD and the business world when he met Stephan.
They had dinner and discussed Austin’s engineering prospects and Stephan’s innovative ideas. Stephan also gave Austin a tour of his mini-lab with its various stages of the string shooter. The two bounced ideas off of each other, and that’s how the string shooter became the ZipString. Austin’s father, Mark, helped them set up shop in his basement, and the three of them worked on dozens of prototypes until they got the design exactly right. The original string shooter was kind of clunky, so they redesigned it into a compact and sleek gadget and gave it a rechargeable USB battery. Other little tweaks here and there, and they were ready to demonstrate it on TikTok. Their swirls and twirls with the ZipString were viewed 20 million times the first day.
All too soon, it was time to return to their respective universities. With the support of their parents, both decided to put their education on the back burner while they launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign. They continued to work out of the basement, and during the pandemic, when supply chains were stressed, family and friends pitched in to help the fledgling company ship out thousands of ZipStrings across the US and to more than 50 countries.
Across all the social media platforms, Austin and Stephan have accumulated hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of followers, and they invite the Zipsters to submit their videos with new tricks to their website. They are often invited to speak to school kids about the invention process and the challenges of making a dream a reality—after engaging the kids with the wonders of the ZipString.
The package includes the ZipString in exciting colors (Rock’it Red, Bodacious Blue, Vivacious Violet, Luscious Lime and Aesthetic Aqua); strings in three different lengths and colors (green = short; yellow = medium; pink = long); and a rechargeable USB lithium-ion battery.
The ZipString is amazingly easy to set up.
- Load a string.
- Point the ZipString in the direction you want it to go.
- Press the button.
- That’s it—let ‘er rip!
When you are done using it, neatly wrap the string around the body and put in your pocket.
Stephan and Austin are now working on different versions of the ZipString, such as a Mini ZipString and a Glow in the Dark ZipString.