If you've got kids and a smartphone, you're probably like me. You've got about 24 apps on your phone - none of which you downloaded. For those parents out there, I bet you wish there were more apps that were productive for your kids, meaning they actually teach them something other than how to sling shot birds at pigs.
One startup is doing just that: providing a platform for mobile gaming apps that are not only fun, but educational.
Fingerprint Digital, a mobile gaming platform with about 14 gaming and learning apps available for three to eight year olds, announced Wednesday that it's raised a total of $7.7 million in financing, which includes a $1.4 million seed round from last year. Leading the current investment is Canadian media company Corus Entertainment, with participation from K2 Media Labs, an incubator based in NY, and Reed Elsevier Ventures.
The company wouldn't disclose how many times the apps have been downloaded, only to say that since launching five apps in December of last year, and having grown that to 14 to-date, some 300,000 user families have played over 25 million minutes on the apps. About half the minutes are spent playing the two most popular apps - Big Kid Life Firefighter and Whole Wide World, which launched last March.
By partnering with Corus Entertainment, Fingerprint will get access to the media company's popular brands. "We're going to be working with them to develop learning apps based on Corus properties," said Nancy MacIntyre, CEO and co-founder of Fingerprint.
Competing with Fingerprint are companies like YogiPlay and Kindertown, which also have a platform where developers can offer up game apps for kids. On the content side, Fingerprint competes with Callaway Digital Arts, Toca Boca, and Disney. What differentiates Fingerprint, says Macintyre, are the features available that connect parents with the kids. "Our value is actually the platform that connects parents and kids," she said. "Parents are engaged when their kids are playing." The features include a ability for parent to track their kids' game play and a way for kids to communicate to their parents their various levels of achievements.
At the moment, the apps are free. But there's additional upsells, said MacIntyre. For instance, in the app Whole Wild World, the game allows users to play with four countries, but additional countries are 99 cents each. Other apps start free and then upsell to a similar but more robust app for $2.99. For developers that develop on the Fingerprint platform, the economics are split. But there is no standard revenue split, at the moment.
Fingerprint expects to release eight apps this year and plans to expand its platform to include games for nine to 12 year olds.