BY MICHELLE MASTRO
While using a standing table at an airport, Prashanth Jayaraman knew he could design a better, more sustainable option. Not only was the table not well-designed, the motor had broken and Jayaraman felt the entire desk would likely be junked instead of fixed.
“E-waste is extremely toxic and makes up two-thirds of the toxic waste in landfills,” Jayaraman says. “A lot of companies claim they are focusing on sustainability—at least, that is what their marketing would have you believe.” That’s why Jayaraman cofounded levitabl and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to bring a new type of adjustable table to the market.
Named Francisco, Jayaraman’s table doesn’t rely on a motor. Spring systems, like those found in a car trunk, allow the table to transition into a standing desk. It is easy to operate, so anyone can use it. And, he claims, with its spring system and steel frame, Francisco is 100 percent recyclable.
A Bloomington resident, Jayaraman first visited the city to see his girlfriend, Charu Subramanian, a student at Indiana University. Now his wife, Subramanian went on to earn her M.B.A. at the Kelley School of Business, where her father and levitabl cofounder, Mani Lakshmanan, teaches classes in operations and management.
Given these deep roots in the community, Jayaraman hopes to manufacture Francisco in or close to Bloomington. He is interested in “sustainable business practices, so Bloomington would be a great fit,” he says. Also, he says, the cost of doing business here is good, and Bloomington could serve as a supply base for his product throughout the Midwest.
“Low tech is the new smart tech,” Jayaraman says. “We would like to keep the product in Bloomington and hope the Kickstarter campaign will impart confidence in our venture here.”
Jayaraman says the desk is named with San Francisco’s famous bridge in mind. “I want to build bridges between people and sustainable products,” he says. “Francisco has character as opposed to being some utilitarian device you can simply throw away.”
Visit levitabl.com for more information and the Kickstarter