My mom once said, “Holly, there is no perfect time to have a baby.” (I think it was after I told her that I was pregnant, something that my husband and I had not planned, since we were just getting ready to move across the country at that time.) My mom said that if I had waited for that perfect moment, by the time it came, my friends may have grandkids.
I think the same could be said about starting a business. In a perfect world one would have living expenses for two years tucked away, ample startup capital for development and marketing, and no need for investors. In real life that is probably not the case for most startup businesses. Mine is not an exception.
That being said, what I did have going for me at the end of 2015 when I started thinking about this, was a purpose and an idea.
I have been tutoring and training tutors and teachers for the past 20 years. I LOVE helping kids learn to read and getting them excited about reading and learning. That IS my purpose.
At the same time, I have my own kids and have observed all of them become very excited about various video games and phone apps. And though I am in complete agreement that screen time for kids needs to be monitored and limited, sometimes, you just need to distract your child so you can get the dishes done (or take a well-deserved nap).
After I started working on my program, Pokémon Go came out. Granted, the use of this game has plummeted since launch in July 2016, but it is still at 5 million users daily–not bad.
The thing that fascinated me about it was my 7-year-old daughter’s absolute obsession with it. It seemed that we could not go past a park without her suggesting that we stop “just to see” what new Pokémon she could catch.
And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Pokémon Go actually taught her something useful.” Not that there is anything wrong with knowing that the CubonePokémon wears the skull of its dead mother and that Nintendo added 80 new Pokémon to the game in 2017. But what if instead of those facts, my daughter was learning some really interesting facts about the English language that would help her to spell better? Like how to know if a word ends with CK or K – “black” or “blak?” (The answer is that if the /k/ sound comes after a short vowel sound it is always spelled CK). That would be pretty cool.
But let’s face it, at first glance learning about Cubone seems a lot more interesting.
Cubone will often weep at night in mourning of its mother. When Cubone cries, the skull that it wears on its head vibrates and emits “a plaintive and mournful sound.” On the night of a full moon, the cries are said to be especially terrible. Cubone seems to recognize its mother in the moon, and so it howls with a particular sadness.
My 7-year-old daughter thought that was pretty cool. As a mom I found it incredibly morbid, but that is beside the point.
Video games and apps can at first glance seem like steep competition when pitted against practicing reading and spelling skills.
So I decided to set out to create an app that would blend the two seeming competitors into one–a place where reading meets FUN! I was encouraged greatly by a friend up north who also has a HUGE purpose in the area of education (more on him in later blog posts).
At first I worked on my concept late at night. After a full day of work and an evening with the kids.
And things moved SLOW.
At the end of the summer of 2016 I turned my position as Executive Director over at the nonprofit I founded and began devoting much more time to the project.
By spring of this year I had completed the preschool and kindergarten content and began talking to developers.
And this is where I have to break and say how important friends and family are to the entrepreneur. At first, I was struggling a bit on my own and I reached out to a good friend who not only introduced me to some experienced developers, she also helped me through the process of creating a Request For Proposal – an outline of the product to present to a developer in order to get a quote.
I have now gotten two quotes and am working on getting a few more.
The other thing that I am working on is networking and building my list. Some of the best educational products around are collecting dust in garages and basements around the country. So, before moving forward on the content creation of the 1st and 2nd-grade levels of my program I am getting out and meeting people, online and in the community! As a part of this I am following and subscribing to the social media sites of wonderful moms and edupreneurs around the country. You may even be one of them. 🙂