Get on Your Feet

One local company’s innovative solution works to increase office health.

By Alexandra Plancarte

HBO’s popular Silicon Valley, the show that chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional high-tech startup, debuted the new Pied Piper office space in the May premiere of Season 3. In order to mimic the office environment of an up-and-comer, set producers turned to Coppell-based Varidesk.

The creators of the product, Jason McCann and his team, know a thing or two about startups. What started as a small idea three years ago turned into a global enterprise.

The concept started when one of the founders of Varidesk had a pinched sciatic nerve. His doctor suggested he stand throughout the day as a remedy for his pain, says McCann, CEO Varidesk.

“He thought he needed some type of desk that could go up and down,” McCann, who went to the University of Houston for his undergrad and MBA, said. “I would go into his office, and he would literally have a brown box on top of his desk with his laptop on it.”

McCann and his team searched for a desk that would be height adjustable to solve the problem. However, after reviewing different products, none of the desks seemed to do what they needed.

“We joked around and we said, ‘Well, why don’t we just create our own,’” McCann said. “We had an idea for a product solution, and we sat around the table to brainstorm ideas and came up with the idea for the product that became known as Varidesk.”

The desk was created inside of Gemmy Industry in Coppell for that single employee and soon others. Gemmy is the No. 1 manufacturer of Airblown inflatables and LED lighting. Other companies around the area heard about the standing desk and wanted to give it a try. Overtime, McCann’s business has grown from two to 115 employees. McCann says about 10 percent of his staff are TCU graduates.

Varidesk is a simple adjustable-height desk already fully assembled that is placed over your existing furniture. The desk allows you to transform your desk from sitting to standing throughout the workday in less than three seconds. Just squeeze the two handles on the side, and it stands right up.

Many companies are making the switch to standing desks, thanks to its health benefits. Sitting for prolonged hours every day can cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The desks have also been linked to increased productivity in the work place. Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health researchers found that workers who stood at their desk were 46 percent more productive than those with a traditional desk.

“Research shows that if you are able to sit and stand throughout the day, you are more productive at work, you are more creative, more collaborative and you’ll burn extra calories,” McCann said.

For less than the cost of a cell phone, Varidesk creates positive momentum inside an employee’s personal life, McCann says.

Varidesk has sold thousands of desks to individuals and companies in more than 100 different countries. Bell Helicopter, American Airlines, TCU, and other major companies around the Dallas/Fort Worth area have embraced Varidesk as a solution for their employees. Almost 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies use a Varidesk. 

“We’ve got thousands of clients in the Fort Worth area; the whole Dallas/Fort Worth area has been very, very good to us,” McCann said. “We feel grateful to be a part of the amazing growth that has been here.”