Early education is critical the way a child’s brain develops, and Kidaptive wants to make sure that it develops right.
The ed-tech startup closed $10.1 million to continue developing its learning platform for kids aged 3 to 11.
Kidaptive powers an interactive storytelling iPad app that embeds assessments into the stories and customizes learning accordingly. Based on this data, it provides parents with insights and tips about how to support their child’s progress and interests.
“Kids are increasingly spending more minutes on screen time each day, but parents don’t yet have a great readout on what they’re learning from these activities or even what’s capturing their imagination,” cofounder and CEO P.J. Gunsagar said. “We can do so much more with tablet time for our kids than use it as a digital babysitter.”
In its flagship game Leo’s Pad, a young Leonardo da Vinci and his friends guide kids through the adventure stories and games, where they practice over 70 cognitive, academic, and social “learning dimensions.” The games adapt as children play to achieve “just the right” level of difficulty to motivate learning.
The curriculum is designed by Stanford University researchers and Emmy award-winning animators, and incorporates early-learning curriculum based on recent research. It is designed to promote 7 key skills — controlling yourself, figuring stuff out, gathering necessary knowledge, acquiring physical routines, developing a love of learning, being creative, and interacting with others. These are viewed as behaviors that promote successful learning both inside and outside of the classroom.
Children’s brains are unbelievable sponges that soak up information and form neural connections at an astonishing rate. Research overwhelmingly shows the benefits of early learning — kids are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to have behavioral problems, and have longer attentions spends and overall retention of information.
Kids love iPads, and this presents a major opportunity for early childhood development. There is a large and crowded market for educational apps, and competition is fierce for the products that are both entertaining and educational.
Gunsugar previously cofounded Prana Studios, a 3-D animation and visual effects studio. Cofounder Dylan Arena has a PhD in learning sciences and technology design, and spent seven years at Stanford researching game-based learning and next-generation assessment.
These two realms of expertise come together with Kidaptive. The app is free, but additional episodes are purchasable for $2.99. There are currently 4 episodes, and the team has 25 episodes planned for Leo’s Pad.
Formation 8 led this second round, with participation from Menlo Ventures, Stanford’s StartX fund, NewsSchools Venture Fund, and Prana Studios. It participated in an accelerator for educational gaming startups that was spearheaded by Zynga founder Mark Pincus.