"You think design's going forward but I just think it's going back /
Making phones so thin the battery life is trash /
And don't even try to get me started on the headphone jack /
Lightning headphones that's a cheat, you're acting like it's a great feat /
Every time I buy something y'all always make it obsolete"
- Sawyer Timco, "iPhone 7 Diss Track / Rap Review"
Last year, two Austin high school friends with a big interest in gadgets had the idea of making some online videos modeled after ones they'd seen on YouTube: product reviews of the latest tech.
One of them, Sawyer Timco, who is now 15 years old, borrowed his dad's video camera and by July, he and 16-year-old Alec Schultz began posting videos as TechieGrad. Months later, tech companies began sending the duo products to review and TechieGrad's website and YouTube channel began to grow in content and numbers of viewers.
"We’d been watching people making videos for a long time and we thought, 'why don't we try making them as well," Timco says now. But while many of the videos the two have posted are informative, fairly standard impressions of products such as smart watches, phones, software and accessories, the two took it to another level a few months ago back in April with a rap review of the iPhone SE.
This month, Timco took the mic again, with Alec Schultz behind the scenes, taking down the new iPhone 7 with a rap diss track.
The video, full of swagger and an on-point breakdown of criticisms one might have of Apple's recent product releases, doesn't pull any punches, but Timco says he's not an iPhone hater, necessarily.
"I don't really hate the phones," he said. "It’s just for fun. With any phone, there’s nothing that’s perfect about it. There's always something to poke holes about. I thought it would be a pretty creative way to review a product."
Timco and Schultz, who are both students at Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, have started gaining some notoriety at school for their work on TechieGrad; they sold about 90 T-shirts with the website's logo on them.
Some of the TechieGrad videos on YouTube have attracted a few hundreds views, but the ones dealing with popular products like the iPhone 7 collect thousands of hits. TechieGrad's most popular video is one of the Huawei smart watch, with nearly 14,000 YouTube views. Timco says the popularity of videos on YouTube often has to do with how well they're tagged with keywords and optimized for search engines.
The work the two have done has attracted some leads for other projects. Timco created a video for a crowdfunding campaign put on by Doc Artisan for a magnetic car mount.
Timco says they plan to continue with TechieGrad on the side even through college and that he hopes to work in tech for a company such as Google in the future.