For most high schoolers, summer is a time to relax and enjoy a couple months without school pressure. But for 17-year-old Aaryan Patel, summer is the time to expand Tide Media, the smart home company he created when he was in ninth grade.
After seeing his father install smart home technology into his own house, Aaryan was hooked on what this new technology could do. He decided to start Tide Media, a smart home and automation company that specializes in creating a smart home for families or individuals.
“I was looking at the fact that this is such great technology that everyone should have access to, which they do, but the setup and the time that it takes to set up? Not everybody has that,” Aaryan said.
Not everyone knows what a smart home offers, Aaryan explained. “I was able to introduce them to the idea that you can open your garage with your phone, you can lock your front door, you can do all these different things with just your phone, and you don’t even need to get up to go do those things.”
Aaryan accredits his and his company’s success to his father, Chirag Patel, who introduced him to smart home automation.
“Aaryan is very technically advanced. He understood concepts of technology and business but need guidance to bring it to life. I guided him to create a list of services he feels comfortable providing,” Chirag said. “Once he started engaging with customers, providing quotes and getting feedback, he felt confident. That’s when I started to step back.”
When Aaryan’s business started growing — accumulating 14 clients in just the first two months — he decided to take a course at Harvard. He wanted to help expand his knowledge in IOT, or the Internet Of Things, the technology used in smart homes.
“My entire philosophy falls under the fact that if you have a full understanding on how a specific field or technology works, then you have a better idea of how the business thrives,” Aaryan said. “I was able to learn a lot about the field from taking that course last year. The applications that I could pursue from that knowledge were just limitless.”
Not only has Aaryan made a total profit of over $20,000 from Tide Media, but he also won first place at the University of Houston Bauer School of Business’s Think Tank, a competition where high schoolers all over Houston pitch their ideas to a board composed of professors from the University of Houston and board members of the Bauer School of Business. Along with the first place title, Aaryan was awarded the grand prize check of $3,000.
“I would say I was in disbelief, like many would be when they win first place,” the senior at The Village School said. “I had no prior experience in education for business so I was just really surprised that I was able to pull through and win the first place prize for that. I’d say the entire reason I was able to pursue that competition was because of the fact that I had an idea of the business I was already going into, so I was able to present them with details of how this business can expand, rather than how this business can start up.”
Aaryan said he sits down with every client and creates a custom portfolio of what they want their smart home to do.
“Right now, I’m really just interested in getting the business to go further than it has ever gone before, like getting more employees, expanding to greater parts of the Houston area, and advertising myself more,” said Aaryan.
“This is definitely a service that people are looking for, and the only way people are getting it is through contract-based companies, and those companies basically lock you into their own systems and their own products,” Aaryan said. “Having that modularity, or having the customer be able to select their own individual components to the smart home is one thing that’s really unique. I see myself creating the entire culture of the business toward a customer-oriented experience for the client when they’re setting up their smart home.”
Aaryan is working hard to juggle the demands of high school and being the head of his own company, but for the next few months, college applications will move to the head of his list.
“I’m definitely able to balance school and work at the same time but right now, especially as college applications are opening, I really put focus onto school,” said Aaryan. “I make sure that I don’t try to advertise myself too much, to the point that I can’t handle school and the business at the same time. Once I get a little bit more time after college applications are over, I’d really like to branch out.”
According to Chirag, this is a great opportunity for Aaryan to learn how to face adversity.
“When he faced challenges, he consulted with me on how to overcome the issues,” Chirag said. “I want to provide Aaryan with an environment to explore new ideas and understand that failure will bring improvement not set you back.”
Starting a company takes hard work, but Aaryan feels it is worth the effort, given the knowledge he gained not just about managing a business, but also about himself.
“One thing that I’d say that I really learned about myself was the fact that if you have a passion for something and you have the drive to pursue that passion, you’re really able to go into anything and really succeed in that field,” he advised. “Find something that you’re interested in and really pursue that with a passion.”
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.