STEMosaur is the latest Indiegogo campaign to win flash funding from Arrow as part of the Arrow Certification Program.
A talking dinosaur toy is pretty cool on its own. But a talking dinosaur toy that a kid can build by themselves and code customizable content for? That’s way, way cooler. That’s the vision behind STEMosaur, a smart toy and learning tool for budding young entrepreneurs, coders and engineers.
Making a smart toy that doesn’t rely on a screen
Donald Coolidge, the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Path, wanted to make a toy that took advantage of cutting-edge voice technology. He read an article about how kids with autism were interacting with Siri and creating relationships with voice tech as a whole. He became fascinated with the idea of creating similar technology built for kids that would answer the questions kids ask — without relying on a screen.
Elemental Path co-founder JP Benni was the sort of kid who took everything apart to see how it worked, and he was coding before the first grade. Donald and JP each founded several startups, and understood the importance of compiling the right team. So they assembled a group of machine learning specialists, AI engineers and educators to study children’s voice models and learning patterns. Together, they created the CogniToys product line and the STEMosaur. “Kids build a natural relationship with most toys, but STEMosaur goes beyond that. It’s a buddy that teaches math, science, grammar, coding, and much more,” said Donald.
The joy of constructing, coding, and playing
STEMosaur has three core components: construction, coding and “play.” It comes in 10 pieces and kids have to put it together before they can use it. “Kids are naturally inquisitive,” said Donald. “We want to get kids excited about engineering and thinking about how all these components come together and function together. They have to connect the battery pack to the hardware chip and the wires to the LEDs. It takes about 10-12 minutes, and it really adds to the child’s sense of ownership with the dino.”
The final step is to connect the toy to wifi. From there, kids can begin talking to STEMosaur. They can play games with it, ask it questions and even do meditation exercises to focus on their breathing. Its AI adapts based on a child’s learning curve and interests.
STEMosaur also has a easy-to-use coding panel that kids can use to create their own content through coding modules. According to Donald, using Stemosaur is so easy, even parents can do it! “We make it really simple to create new content. Kids can drag and drop code like puzzle pieces so they can learn to create games.”
Using Indiegogo for better analytics
Donald and his team turned to crowdfunding to get early feedback. They plan to release new content for STEMosaur weekly, and backer feedback will help inform what that content is. “Our goal was to create a community of initial supporters for STEMosaur,” said Donald. “We wanted to engage with early adopters of new technology.”
STEMosaur is the second CogniToy to come from Elemental Path. They raised funds for their first product by crowdfunding on a different platform, but decided to run their second crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to get access to more advanced analytics. Donald noted, “Indiegogo provides data that lets us the test where traffic is coming from and understand how well it converts.” Elemental Path also chose Indiegogo for its extensive partner network and the assistance offered by the Indiegogo hardware sales team. “Indiegogo got really excited about the product early on. They helped us position it and kept us on track,” said Donald. “They were essential to building the campaign and making sure we got the right message across.”
“Arrow let us grow faster.”
Donald and the Elemental Path team spent three months getting ready to launch, and they made getting Arrow Certification a top priority. Not only does Arrow Certification come with valuable resources and discounts, it also gives campaigners access to Arrow’s team of experts. “We always ask Arrow for advice and expertise,” said Donald. “If we have any question about manufacturing, we contact them.”
Arrow also made sure that Elemental Path had everything they needed to make STEMosaur a reality. They helped the team optimize their Bill of Materials (BOM) and cut down on how long it took to get parts. “Some of the items we needed required long lead times, which can be a big problem for manufacturing,” said Donald. “Arrow made sure those long lead time items were available to us on short notice, which let us grow faster and ship more products by cutting those wait times by about 50%.”
Arrow Certification also carries cachet with backers as well. The Arrow Certification badge lets backers know a product has been made with technical expertise. Campaigns that get Arrow Certification ahead of launch — like STEMosaur did — raise more funding on average than campaigns that get certification later on.
The biggest flash funding prize yet
Getting awarded $125k in flash funding from Arrow–the biggest cash prize given thus far in the program–was a total surprise for Donald. “I knew about the funding program, but I didn’t expect to get any,” he said. “I checked my email, then went out to the office pit and gave high fives to everyone without telling them what it was for.”
The funds will go towards helping them create more STEMosaurs. “We’ll use the money to iterate the product and provide it to more consumers,” Donald said. “We ran a tight ship on STEMosaur and only have a limited number available. This will help us optimize our product, specifically with research and development.” Fortunately, orders of STEMosaurs placed now will all be fulfilled for the 2017 holiday season.
Getting kids excited about STEM
Donald and his team want to further develop voice technology for kids. “There’s very little known yet about how kids interact with this sort of tech,” Donald said. “We want to improve our technology to better understand kids’ speech patterns and react to the way kids ask questions.”
Donald and his team were the sorts of kids that took things apart just to see how they worked, and they want to foster the same curiosity in the next generation. He added, “We’re creating little entrepreneurs and getting them excited about STEM.”
Are you an entrepreneur yourself and want to be eligible for flash funding? Arrow is still giving away more funding in 2017, so don’t miss out on your chance to win a share of the $1,000,000. Become Arrow Certified today for a chance to win and to learn how Arrow’s experts can make your idea a reality.