Alex Levine, Co-Founder and CEO of Xebec, courtesy photo

In 2017, Alex Levine found himself working on a 12-inch laptop at a client’s office in New Jersey and he wanted a better setup like the big monitors at his home office.

“For me, one thing that I found that was a big hole in my travel lifestyle was I couldn’t bring my beautiful home office setup with me while on the road,” said Levine, a technology consultant with Accenture at that time.

On the plane flight home, he dreamed up the idea for Xebec Tri-Screen, a device that attaches two more screens to almost any laptop without requiring software or adhesives. Levine, a University of Texas at Austin engineering graduate, put together the original version in AutoCAD and printed a prototype using his 3-D printer at home. He tried it out on some old laptops, and it worked.

Levine brought the device to work the next week and all of his co-workers liked it. That’s when he shared it with his longtime friend and UT alumn, Trevor Russo who was a New York-based consultant. They studied the shift to remote work and decided to form Xebec to launch the product into the marketplace.

“Over the last five years, there had been a 40 percent increase in remote workers, and that stat was only expected to continue to climb as time went on,” Levine said. “We saw this great opportunity in a quickly growing market.”

Xebec’s first product is its $399 Xebec Tri-Screen triple-screen device, but it plans a whole range of products designed to bring the comforts of an ergonomic office to digital nomads.

In 2019, Levine left his full-time job to focus solely on the company which they named Xebec, a three-masted Mediterranean sailing ship. It fit the company because, with its product, digital nomads can go exploring and work from anywhere, Levine said. But the name actually came about because Russo remembered it from a childhood spelling bee growing up in Lakeway, Levine said. Both of them grew up in the Austin area. Levine is from Bee Cave.

Today, the company, Xebec, which is a member of Capital Factory’s accelerator program, has reached a milestone of $2.3 million in sales in six months, selling out of 5,500 units of its flagship product, the Xebec Tri-Screen.

“With this pandemic, it has been just an incredible spike, a vertical shift, which I can’t even quantify in the number of remote workers we’ve seen not only in the U.S. but across the world,” Levine said.

Levine’s product born out of necessity has met the needs of a lot of other nomadic workers. But Xebec still had to overcome a lot of challenges to get its product to market during a pandemic.

In late January, Levine feared the worst because its engineers are based in Hong Kong and its factory is in Shenzhen in Southeastern China. The COVID-19 pandemic shut the plant down. And Xebec planned to launch at South by Southwest and that was canceled.

“We had to get ready for the pandemic before everyone else because it hit us so soon,” Levine said. “After the Chinese New Year, we had no idea if our factory was ever going to open up again. We were really in the dark.”

Xebec was in a holding pattern from January until April and luckily its plant opened up and it received its products from China. During that time, Xebec also pivoted to launch an e-commerce site online. The company has even expanded during these difficult times. Xebec has hired five additional employees in the last five months. It now has seven full-time workers and it opened a new warehouse in Austin.

Now, Xebec has the right product at the right time, Levine said. The company also has three patents pending on its product, he said. It has raised less than $50,000 from friends and family and is bootstrapping its operations, Levine said.

Xebec expects demand to continue to grow as International Data Corporation reports remote workers will make up 60 percent of the workforce by 2024.

“We launched this product, and this company as a whole, during a really tough year for everybody after years and years of preparation from a very organic point of solving a problem that we had,” Levine said.

And while it was initially pretty daunting, Levine is excited about how everything has turned out.

“We allow our Xebec users to free themselves from this traditional workspace and to allow them to live the best version of themselves,” he said. “I’m really hoping the work-life balance that comes from all of this can be the silver lining of what’s happened.”