The company of the day is kidthing, based in the US. kidthing is a free downloadable multi-media app made just for kids. You will find below an interview with Lawrence Hitchcock, CEO and Co-Founder of kidthing. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Lawrence Hitchcock, CEO and Co-Founder of kidthing
Who are you?
CEO and Co-Founder.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?
Fantastic – a great honor to be chosen - kidthing’s in great company.
What did you do before creating your company?
I ran an Emmy award winning TV & film design company. Before that, I was Managing Director of Portfolio Operations for a venture capital fund, and before that, I was VP Business Development for Pearson’s digital publishing company.
How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?
kidthing was inspired by my daughter – we wanted to give her access to digital content but there wasn’t much to be found other than ad-saturated websites that weren’t appropriate for a 4 year old. And, of all of the great published kids content, almost none of it was digital as there wasn’t a good safe solution for kids e-books that protected the commerce and IP for the publishers as well. We launched kidthing to solve these 2 challenges.
What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?
kidthing is a free downloadable multi-media app made just for kids for the creation, sale, and sharing of digital kids content – e-books, games, and videos.
kidthing’s mission is to shepherd the millions of kids under 8 through the growing migration to everything digital by giving them a safe place - in a place that’s safe for the content owners too – commercial and free from online piracy worries.
We give away our app free to everyone – and wonderful digital content is available at the kidthing store at prices ranging from $0.99 to $7.99. We carry digital read along books such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears A Who!, Not a Box, Biscuit and many more. We have great storybooks including Corduroy and The Little Engine that Could and fun games like Mathketball, Garfield Clicker Stickers, Dr. Seuss’s Concentration, InfoDots, The Lorax Litter Omitter, Guinness World Records Best Weird Records , etc. Our products feature both classic brands such as Dr. Seuss as well as innovative in-house content from our team at the kidthing studio.
What is your market?
Our target customers are the millions of kids 8 and under who are flocking to their first computer and digital media experience at home and at school. Our target content partners are publishers and owners of kids books, games, videos, and edutainment materials – and everyone who aspires to make and sell fun and engaging content for kids.
Any clients? References? Partners?
Though we’re still in beta, we’ve already partnered with many publishers and rights holders for content including leading publishers such as HarperCollins, Penguin Young Readers Group, Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Garfield, and Charlesbridge Publishing. and have more than 150,000 members of the kidthing community (including more than 45,000 classrooms). We’re also the sole digital partner for the National Education Association’s Read Across America program.
Funding history? VCs? BA?
To date, we’re funded through angels, friends and family, and looking for our first professional round now.
Kidthing is in beta now with a new exciting update coming this fall. We look forward to significant growth in the coming year. There are great opportunities for kidthing to help power global distribution of great content for kids, especially for regional content owners trying to reach (and sell to) their audiences in far away countries. For example, publishers of great content in Mexico reaching out to Latino kids in America, Chinese writers looking for ebook markets across the globe, etc.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Kidthing has 12 employees, 5 developers.
Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?
Yes, we’re looking for great engineers and marketing people – Los Angeles, CA.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
kidthing is a Windows app – C++, ASP .Net and content is Flash & video. We choose Windows as our platform due its dominant position in the global market, its ability to rapidly develop and deploy, and the robust market for technology resources.
Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?
Yes, kidthing is a proprietary client / server platform and the first in the market of its kind in the kids digital media space.
Who’s your role model?
My role models are the people who had a great idea and worked tirelessly to bring them to life. Bill Gates – great vision for computers - everywhere. Sergey Brin and Larry Page – a great vision for search (and everything else Google does). Walt Disney – he knew how to inspire kids and adults. John Lasseter – who’s not only a great story teller (who really gets kids – and adults too!) but also has a passion for excellence that shows in everything Pixar does.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?
There are countless opportunities in the current technology, internet and media markets. We are focused on the huge growth of kids entering the digital / computing markets. These are the youngest generation ever to join the ranks of the digital. The world is moving to digital everything at a faster rate than ever before – and kidthing is well positioned to be a safe gateway for kids to join the trend.
Looking for funding? If yes, how much?
Yes, kidthing is seeking Series B funding of $5m.
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?
We already joined after meeting the BizSpark team at TechCrunch50. It’s a great program and a good way for startups to work with Microsoft to help facilitate and grow. It can be a daunting arena to try to navigate without BizSpark. BizSpark helps guide startups like kidthing to all of the resources that Microsoft has to offer.
Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?
Focus on the goal and be persistent. Don’t be afraid of the current economic conditions – it’s a crucible of change and opportunity.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Just thanks for including kidthing in BizSpark.