The sudden proliferation of mobile “edutainment” apps has been pretty noticeable—particularly with the debut of the iPad. Some of them nail it on the head, while others seem to play up to the yuppie-parent quest to grow a child prodigy while simultaneously keeping that prodigy quiet and out-of-the-way. But one new startup, Stickery, developed a mobile “edutainment” platform that has already received a vote of confidence from AngelPad, Google Ventures, and 500 Startups. Stickery announced Tuesday that it has raised a round of seed funding nearing $500K from Google Ventures and 500 Startups, along with several strategic investors around the world.
In addition to the new funding, the company has also launched its newest mobile game: “Mermaid Waters: Adventures of Hana & Cory.” Hana and Cory look remarkably like the Powerpuff Girls.
The activities utilize touchscreen technology to give preschoolers the sensory delight they get from games like “Angry Birds” while emphasizing the educational goals of identifying numbers and letters.
What makes the platform unique, however, is that it puts its money where its mouth is by allowing parents to actually see how their child is progressing. The app collects usage data and compiles it into progress reports that allow parents to track how their child is meeting learning milestones.
The company says it plans to work with educators and cross-disciplinary domain experts to continue to develop its educational gaming model. Stickery has put together an advisor team for education and child development that includes an MIT academic, Stanford-trained educator, and an experienced preschool principal. CEO Bjorn Lee tells me that the company plans to publicize the names once the panel has been formalized.
While Lee says Stickery isn't making any guarantees, "we are in discussions with a California school district to explore the pedagogical value of our games in a classroom setting. Our focus remains on the consumers although institutions are a good testing ground for future products."
AngelPad founder Thomas Korte is impressed. “After watching my preschool son pick up the iPad for the first time, I realized this is changing learning as we know it,” said Korte in a statement. “The Stickery team is on the forefront of a new wave of learning tools. Their deep understanding of touch interface technology and collaboration with world-renowned children learning experts will drive innovations in education.”
As for the uncanny Powerpuff Girls resemblance, Lee says: "Honestly, we did not choose this style. The kids did. We had multiple styles during testing but this happened to resonate the most. I guess kids have a natural affinity to big eyes."
Stickery plans to use the new funds from this round to hire additional staff and expand the product to new markets and platforms.
The free “Mermaid Waters” app is currently available for iOS devices.