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Senior Entrepreneur Kickstarts Product

Oct 20, 2021 | Blog, Innovation, Upper School News

In Upper School, Innovation Diploma Senior Maddy Strudwick was handed a rubber duck in AP Computer Science when struggling with a particular concept. Her teacher instructed her to talk the problem out with that duck.

This first encounter with the idea of rubber duck debugging not only helped Maddy solve her problem in class that day, but an entrepreneurial idea for her own product and company was born.

The idea of rubber duck debugging originates from the task of checking computer code by proofreading line for line, and explaining the code to a rubber duck. The Pragmatic Programmer by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas explains the power of talking to a duck, and how verbalizing a problem can result in a solution as it increases brain activity and awareness.

Curious about the neuroscience aspect, Maddy took her success to another level by building a prototype to test on her friends. With nothing but positive results, a new passion fueled masduck.

The company Maddy founded, promotes the product QUACK! and encourages users to utilize communication to solve problems. QUACK!’s motto? Talk to the duck. Get unstuck.

The masduck website shares, “Communication is vital, whether it’s verbalizing your problems or bouncing ideas off a new friend. Each of QUACK!’s components work to unlock your creativity, eliminate moments of feeling stuck, and bring positivity into your everyday life.

After a year of hard work, prototyping, and receiving input and feedback, on October 6, her project was officially launched on Kickstarter. Through Kickstarter, Maddy can receive funding for her project if she reaches her goal of fundraising and support by November 6, a notion that she has termed, “backing the QUACK!”.

Around her launch, Maddy shared, “What I’m most excited about launching is that not only does my product QUACK! help people, it also gives them the opportunity to help others. I’m so excited to be donating 10% of my profits to Bridging Tech which is providing education opportunities and technology to homeless kids in the U.S.

Maddy has been a collaborator, a creative thinker, and a solution seeker, but one MV norm has shown through them all – share the well. Through this entire process, she has had the goal of helping others.

Even on launch day, Maddy celebrated by sending thank you notes to members of the MV community who helped her achieve this dream. After the Homecoming football game on Friday, Maddy left ducks and motivational cards on the windshields of cars as a random act of kindness.

She has felt directly supported by her teachers and friends at Mount Vernon. As a student in Innovation Diploma, Maddy has felt encouraged by Mr. Droke, Mrs. Fancher, Mrs. Pender-Healey, and Ms. Wilcox. She shared that “iD gave me the confidence to pursue QUACK! as a real product because of all the skills iD has taught me.”

She specifically credits the skills she has learned including marketing, branding, and graphic design.

Additionally, Maddy has benefitted from taking a few Maker, Design, and Engineering electives at MV, where she has been influenced heavily by Mr. Tiffin and Mrs. Luster.

“They saw me walk into their class with a cardboard duck prototype, talking about the mechanics that could go inside and how it would work, and encouraged me even though none of us imagined it would become a product.”

Since that first prototype, Maddy created several more on her journey, creating 3D models at school and presenting them to fellow students and teachers.

Outside of the classroom, Maddy reached out to experts in the community who could help. Mr. Boden and Ms. Langston on the Brand Development Team helped with advice, logo creation, and choosing a color palette. Also on the Brand team, Ms. Trenney and Ms. Cashman assisted in the building of a social media strategy (be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram!). Mr. Basulto also gave her advice for her Kickstarter video.

Maddy is grateful for her “school mom” Ms. Graham and also acknowledges Mr. Ramirez, her college counselor, as well as the rest of the college counseling team, Mrs. Lundstrom, Mrs. Bogdanchik, Coach Dabbs, and Mrs. Choi as some of her biggest cheerleaders.

At the end of the day, Maddy is an advocate for and supporter of others. She shares, “For anyone who’s thinking about pursuing an independent project like me, I say, go for it! It’ll take so much time and things will almost never go to plan, but the end result will be so rewarding and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you actively choose to find a way or make a way.”

Congratulations on your launch, Maddy!