Pioneering E-EducationWed, 02/21/2018 - 09:50
Q: What has been the key to building a scalable project?
MD: We needed quality, a good concept and a great story. And we had to think beyond Mexico because technology allows us to cross borders and to look for opportunities everywhere. Yogome has users in more than 50 countries. Even though there are cultural differences, children all over the world are growing up with a tablet, so we saw an opportunity on educational games.
AC: In 2009, we decided to build a web-development agency and then dedicated ourselves to the creation of educational games. In 2011, we received investment from the US. In 2013, we became part of Endeavor, which gave us access to more investors. Our latest investor is Seaya Ventures, a Spanish fund that provided US$6.6 million. This last investment will go toward marketing, team growth in Mexico City and San Luis Potosi and expansion to the Asian market, especially to China, South Korea and Japan. Today, we have more than 400 minigames and around 20 apps.
Q: What is your approach to sales and how can you determine the educational impact of the games?
AC: We have two types of clients: our final user, the children, whom we have to convince to use the product, and the user who is going to pay, the parents. We have to convince parents that the product has educational value.
In Latin America, we have penetrated Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil, while in Asia we are in Thailand and the Philippines. However, our largest audience is in the US and the favorite subject there is mathematics. We worked with Play2PREVENT, a video and mobile game research initiative at Yale University, to measure the impact of our math games. We are in the final stage and are awaiting their approval to publish the results. They did different tests over one year with children aged between 6 and 9 years old and found that those who used our games were better able to solve tests from their grade level than children who had not tried our application.
Q: How do you decide what topics should be covered in the games Yogome produces and what curriculum is used?
AC: We develop content for children between 4 and 11 years old. At first, we focused on mathematics but in San Francisco, where we have our headquarters, ecology is very important, so we developed other products on recycling. Afterward, the public began to demand games about science and geography.
For mathematics and science, we use a standardized curriculum used in US elementary schools that we then adapt to Mexico and other countries. We are interested in health, creativity and sustainability and we want to introduce programming fundamentals. Soon, we will also have apps related to social and emotional learning. Our most popular product is Epic Heroes of Knowledge, in which we offer educational and entertaining content.
Q: What kind of talent are you looking for to build a team that will help you achieve this mix of education and entertainment?
AC: We have many developers, designers, illustrators and animators, but above all there is our educational team. All our employees are between 22 and 40 years old with a background in comics, social networks and video games.
MD: In Mexico, there is a lot of talent. We value our people and we believe they are happy with us. Investors now say we do not need Silicon Valley but we find valuable talent there that is hard to find in Mexico. Our educational director studied at both Berkeley and Harvard, so we can reach this kind of talent in the US.