Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
At Primo we make smart toys that focus on digital skills for 3-7 year olds.
We’ve created a new, tangible coding language specifically designed to allow girls and boys to program in pre-literate years, along with a toy that lets them express themselves.
What began as a weekend project, flourished into a business and a global community of influential and outspoken educators and parents. They are not only customers, but part of a community working to make Primo the first step in every child’s programming education.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup?
Primo was founded in the summer of 2013, by Filippo Yacob (28) and Matteo Loglio (27), with a view to improve the way technology and science is introduced to children through tangible play.
The founders grew up together in the same hometown and have known each other for 18 years. They played sports together, skateboarded together, and are now working together.
At Primo, Filippo is the CEO, and Matteo is our Head of Design.
How was the idea for your startup born?
In 2013, Filippo discovered he would become a father, and like many parents, began to think about how he could introduce 21st century skills to his son as early as possible.
However, he didn’t want to resort to purely screen-based options, knowing that young children learn best through physical play.
Coincidentally, Matteo, by this time an Interaction Designer at Arduino, had worked on a university project that focused on solving this very problem. This concept was eventually developed into the Cubetto Playset.
The founders met to make this project a reality, and Primo was born, merging vision and concept to create a company.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve?
We believe that programming is the literacy of the 21st century, and should therefore be introduced and prioritised from an early age.
We weren’t satisfied with the existing educational toys on the market, which excluded younger children from learning. Products either required more advanced skills to access programming, such as literacy, or worked with purely digital interfaces, which ignored the key pedagogical Montessori principle that young children must learn with their hands.
To solve this problem, Primo created a tangible block-based coding language to control a toy, making programming accessible without the use of screens or literacy. We let children get started at the age of 3, so they don’t have to wait until they are 7 or older.
Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?
What sets Primo apart is that we target a younger age group than our competitors. Our products are aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 7, and we want to be the first step in a child’s programming education. We pride ourselves in creating products that don’t require screens, which again separates us from most of our competitors. Our toys are also completely gender neutral, equally designed for both girls and boys.
In which markets / regions are you active? What markets / regions are next?
Primo is active in over 40 countries. We have a growing presence here in the UK, in continental Europe and in the Nordics through our partners.
Next on, we will be very active in South Korea from Spring 2016.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience are girls and boys between the ages of 3 and 7. Our toys are suitable for both the classroom and at home, so we target both educators and parents.
How do you engage with your target audience? How do you convert them into users of your product?
We engage with our target audience through workshops, and demonstrations, as well as lesson plans, activities and ideas. We are lucky to have a community of advocates that support the product and see it’s power and potential.
How many users / downloads does your service have?
We have wholesalers, distributors and resellers, totalling close to five digit sales in products.
What is your business model? How much does your product / service cost.
The Cubetto Playset costs £170. We sell online directly, through selected retailers and third party sales. We also sell digital extensions and content for educators that expand products, supporting children through further learning as they grow.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share?
Our first major milestone was our successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013. We then shipped two production runs from our assembly centre in London.
Earlier this year, we joined PCH Access, which will be crucial to scale production and distribute globally.
What are the next steps in growing your startup?
This autumn we will be delivering Cubetto Playsets to our early adopters. By April 2016 we will begin delivering at scale with our supply chain partners PCH Access. We are currently working on scaling sales and marketing.