TinyTap, which we first covered in August last year, is a games development app from Israel which allows adults and children to create educational games on an iPad. When we first discovered the company they were at a rudimentary stage where users could add photos and record questions to personalize their games, but not much else.
Since then the company has made significant progress. As CEO Yogev Shelly puts it: “TinyTap has gone from the diapers and crawling phase to taking its first steps.” They have now released one of their most popular games, I Love ABC, as a stand-alone cross platform version for all iOS devices, a move which has proven a hit with their customer base: “This was well received and has already been downloaded over 10,000 times in just two weeks!” This success has encouraged further expansion, as Yogev elaborates: “We’re planning on doing the same with many of our other high quality games as well as with games produced by members of our community.”
Moving beyond simple personalization of the gaming process, TinyTap has also set up a social marketplace where users can promote their own content and compare their creations with others’ own attempts. By developing this mini social network, the company has ensured that there is a constant conversation going on between users, and this provides a useful mode of feedback for the team. Users will now have their own profile which they can personalize and use to promote their content. Users can also sell their own content, turning TinyTap into an educational retail platform as well as a curation tool.
The process of starting a new business has also proven to be a useful learning tool for the founders, where they can find out more about their customer base. “We quickly realised how important it is for TinyTap to have a community. We received a lot of emails from teachers inquiring how to share games with their students, who (since they’re kids) don’t have email access. And so the TinyTap Social Market was born. We built a fun and beautiful community which supports 11 languages and provides a super simple way of sharing and discovering games from around the world. This way a parent, a teacher, or class can now have a profile which students can refer to and use to discover new content on a daily basis.”
One aspect of their business model that the founders were particularly passionate about was the interactive approach – rather than simply giving children an iPad with pre-selected content on it they encourage the user to curate and create their own content. This has meant that the company can ensure they are providing material that is relevant and interesting to the user, and gives the user the sense that they have a strong input into shaping the content. This has been particularly popular with teachers who encourage their pupils to use TinyTap to keep them engaged in the learning process.
The founders have also encountered some surprises along the way, mostly in the demographic of their user base They expected to primarily engage parents, who could then encourage their children to create their own games, but conversely it is the children who have embraced the technology most readily. Yogev explains: “We launched with a call for grownups to create content for kids, but it turns out that the users who are the most passionate about TinyTap are kids! And it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Kids love to create and explore. They use TinyTap to build games about anything that interests them such as dinosaurs, the solar system or even celebrities. This proved to be a highly engaging and effective way for a child to learn new things.”
The team have a number of plans for how to develop their product, and the future is looking dynamic. “We’re working on releasing a variety of new game creation tools enabling users to develop far more complex games. These tools include shape puzzles, audio tags for free exploration in pictures as well as video pages between interactions. Imagine watching recording a video of your child and then pausing to ask a question. Our new game creation tools will make this and much more possible!” For example, a game creator could record footage of their child going about daily activities, and then pause the video to ask questions of their child who is watching the footage back, based on what they see on the iPad screen.
These improvements and expansions have largely been made possible by a successful launch campaign and the media coverage that entailed. “Very shortly after Springwise wrote about us we received a seed investment of $USD 500K from a new Israeli Micro-VC – Inimiti, coincidence? I don’t think so.” Of course, the road hasn’t been entirely smooth for TinyTap, and they have had to sacrifice certain opportunities in order to focus on games development. “Since being featured in Springwise we focused mainly on development. Unfortunately because of this we neglected other important things such as creating more TinyTap Games like the 12 games we already have. It also means that we’ve missed out on great partnership opportunities with amazing kids companies. We wish we could have focused on working closer with schools around the world. But that’s all going to change.”
In looking back over the past year’s progress Yogev is philosophical: “Time is your ultimate co-founder as it’s always besides you wherever you go. Sometimes it moves too fast and your progress lags behind. But sometimes as it progresses so too does the project and more people hear about what you’re building daily. You learn more every day and must iterate very fast to make sure the users feel that there is someone there, someone who listens and who’s working on the product to make it all it can be.” With this positive attitude, the TinyTap team clearly have the right approach to see them through developing their business beyond the startup stage.