We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Gema Parreño Piqueras”, CEO of the Madrid – Spain based start-up “CUBICUS SMART TOYS SL”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
CUBICUS is a brand for young children based on five texturized cubes that represent a child´s daily activities for kids from 2 to 5 years old. Hygiene , nutrition , learning , playing and sleeping take shape in these amazing characters. The main focus of the project is on having fun while reinforcing the child´s daily routine using physical and digital products, sometimes combined.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We started with the idea almost a year ago, thinking in a out of the box as a group of architects, artists and teachers. At first we started thinking about animation products, but we soon changed into videogames or other kind of products that combined both digital and physical objects to produce more interactive experience.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Bussisnes models based on brand have some clear competitive advantage : the licensing of itself can add a lot of revenue, helping with the explotion of products . The idea is that our startup can develop the digital part of a both combined digital and physical product, or that we combined the launch of both digital and physical products. So we have different ways to explote the endless possibilities of the brand construction searching also for other kind of partnerships .
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The founder team met during the university studing Architecture. After ending our studing and in the meanwhile we were developing more architectural constests and designs, we had this great idea for a brand. We all love pure geometry froms, so it was amazingly fun to gave different textures to characterize those dily activities, constructing a group of chareacters based on this mixed idea.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Very few apps have been designed to bring kids the most beautiful and interesting part of what technology offers : cultivating a parent child relationship , focusing on learning daily activities and parenting advice development . The project seeks for innovation from brand design to the creation of products and services, with the cubes being central to both.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We have been using Youtube as a platform for our wacth&play gamification videos, having these representative milestones : – More than 8000 visits since September 2014 – 6528 minutes of visualization. -59 % of our viewers are on parenting age. – 30 % devices reproduction from Youtube are for tablets and mobiles. – audience average retention of 72 %. – Youtube Maxium Ads Output of 436 $ . Now we are heading into our crowdfunding campaign, that is being launch worldwide!
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Kids are not one great innovators but exigent with desing and timing for digital products. One of our most important competitors is tocaboca , but also a reference. They have been developing apps for kids in a brilliant way, having always excellence, UX and good practice methods as their main pillars for development.Dada company, another young Spanish company has been established now although with a different kind of designs and focus.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Working on the evolution and characters Being solid based constructed has been a help. Fast moving, constructing a valid mommy blogger network has helped us over some other competitors.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The amount of time that you have to be involved in to produce any small detail .Sometimes outsiders came and don´t appreciate the diference between tiny designs and timing for videogame production. Timing is very important because small kids get bored very fast, and sometimes you have to work on constant 4 seconds screenshot changes, and you have to study how variations can affect the kids. The game design is very important as it has to be entertainment but also educative.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We have been already recognized for our rapid grow strategy and our ability to work together as a part of a hole. Also we are a great indie team as we are able to change , pivot and lean from one product to another based in the same work.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We have been doing market reseach using our own analitycs provided by youtube and google, and we believe there´s an opportunity for us in the asian market. so we would love to head into places like Japan or China, even these are different kind of markets. So as a conclussion Asia is in our market expand objetives.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We love geometry. The idea of combine both pure geometry froms plus daily activities for kids to reinforce brought us an attractive way to develop our job : to make happy to families, including this experience based on a group of same shape but different textures.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. At the end, it takes a lot of courage to grow, to make mistakes and to stand up again. At the end is the power of will and courage what distingues a true entrepreneur. Most oftenly humans are shaped and recognized in their most success moments. But sometimes is failure what makes us woke up, or search for a solution.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
With our crowdfunding campaign we are planning to close a lean startup cycle, in wich we produce the videogame and ask for customer feedback , providing a 3 months stage of fixing timing and even mechanics designing. The main problems we might have is the apparition of competitors. That´s why we have alredy started with other product-brand based designs wich include physical and technological designes
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
We are designing a digital expereince that focuses on possitive rutine reinceforment and parenting-child relationship. There are a lot of apps for kids that think about entertainment for kids- we provide that option too- but we lso think about a parent-child gaming experience combined.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We started a few months ago to have a social media strategy involving some baby agenda + publicity in youtube We have take support in mommy blogs and ads as a way to approach our clients and users.
We have been selected for some publishers competitions as well as including ourselves in some events from the industry, wich have allowed us to meet publishers and other developers to partner with.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
This brand has different kind of clients depending on the bussisnes scale : In one hand, parents as clients and kids as users mode is undeniable. In the other hand, publishers , licensing providers, even television or media are other clients to promote or even explote the possibilities of the brand.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
New customers usually come from social media and other digital platforms. Until now we where developing our product in a global platform as Youtube, so mainly our clients came from there. Parenting is a topic that is currently active in other social platforms as twitter. As videogame industry, influencers are currently into the blog sphere. We have been working with professional mommy digital ecosystem maketeers as madresfera, Spanish community with more than 18.000 mommy blogs attached.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
They underline the originality of the idea and the ejecution of the designs . Some of them even are pointing our ability to work on the UX parenting experience, providing poetry as a way to encourage them to receive parenting advice. The clients mainly point to the beautiful evolution of the startup.
20. How are you going to scale?
The main growing strategy consist on the development of our production of 5 package app –MVP-on the first next six months. . In the meantime we are prototyping the first digital toy . we are currently developing the talking algorithm that will be including on an app (Saas) + searching for toy industry partners or factories. We have alredy built the 3dmodel prototyped of the toy and developed the main architecture for the algorithm.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We would like to have more software developers to work on the main issues of the algorithm . Also we are still a small group of people. Fortunatetly , we have built the network with different universities that allow us to have interns and to grow fastly, as we have been working to take part of the industry.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Our crowdfunding campaign has allowed us to open to the world. We have created a twitter growhacker account that allow us to fastly grow and communicate .We have been also developing market research about our brands thanks to Youtube, google and big data tools analitycs so we have measured the impact of our brand since the creation and current evolution.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Entertainment preschool industry market is hard : at the end, it´s luck and hard work what leads you beyond others. If we reach high success as our referent competitors – Tocaboca- we can reach from 70 to 121 million revenue in four years time , including Asian markets. The Aim is to produce this brand in a year and meanwhile selling starting with the next thing. The aim is to become a reference in the world of digital education and entertainment .
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We would like to partner or hire a technical development force for the software, as we can add more features . We have strong design skills and management skills. Our background comes from architecture and fine arts, so we have been focused on both physics and arts learning process, wich allowed us to have a general vision. We are now learning a lot about coding but would like to join to software developers that can head our startup into the next stage.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are searching for an early stage investment from 50 to 100 k to produce the digital apps, chosing crowdfunidng as one of the strategy to raise our funds, tasting the market possibilities and if there´s a place for the product plus the interest for the clients. In the second hand we search for 250 k to develop software + physical toy combined. We are currently searching for VC´s and investors that can takes us to the next level.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Being an entrepreneur is great, but there currently are hard times, so I encourage young entrepreneurs to keep openminded and optimistic. Take negative feedback as a way to change and get better and no-one will defeat you. When It comes to entrepreneurship, I always think about steve jobs quotes or recommendations. I also like a sentence from Seth Godin “ Don´t find customers for your products, find products for your