Children are naturally curious, and love to touch and play with everything, including their parents’ electronic gadgets. From the time they can grasp an object in their hands, they like to get their hands on their parents’ smart phones and iPads.
Dan Yang, a woman telecom professional, had one mission after becoming a mom — how to keep her baby’s hands off her smart phone!
But her baby just can’t resist her smart phone, and reaches for it when she can. So Yang wants to make sure that her smart phone is child-friendly in terms of functionality, size and ease of use. Most of all, she wants it to be educational.
She looked for a technology toy that would help her baby learn, enhance her play, and satisfy her curious fingers but she couldn’t find one. She saw this as an opportunity and created her own child-friendly gadget herself.
Dan Yang is now CEO of Rullingnet and the inventor of their flagship product, VINCI Genius Tablet. .www.vincigenius.com
Her innovative product won the 2012 National Parenting Council Award and has rave reviews from Moms & Dads alike. The VINCI Genius is styled to look like an adult Tablet but it has a red rosey ring for easy portability and little finger carry. It has a touchscreen (shatterproof and FDA safety compliant), with content that teaches and advances as the child grows. By not having web access there is no worry that children will get hit with Internet ads or inappropriate contact.
Dan Yang has grown this idea into a product and now a small business with a team that is designing additional products for along with the entire process of manufacturing, distribution, retail relationships and 3rd app developers.
Read our interview with Yang and learn how she developed her product VINCI Genius Tablet
What is Vinci Tablet? Can you briefly describe the product?
VINCI is a new category of touch screen-based early learning systems designed exclusively for toddlers and preschoolers.
VINCI first product VINCI Tab is a mobile touch screen tablet computer created with safety in mind and for the purpose of learning. It features a protective soft-cornered handle made of non-toxic food-grade material and a tempered glass screen.
Besides, most advanced technology – capacitive touch screen, Cortex A8 processor, and Android 2.3, VINCI provides hours of interactive learning through engaging Games, Story Books and Music Videos. These apps are designed according to VINCI Early Learning Objectives, which include three cognitive learning levels.
How did you come up with the idea for Vinci? What inspired you to start your business?
Having found traditional toys for infants generally uninspiring, I noticed my youngest daughter’s profound fascination with my smart phone. While I was eager to encourage her newfound interest, I was extremely concerned for her safety, mobility and real learning when she played with technology-based devices. I was worried that she would develop the bad habit of mindlessly and aimlessly flipping through programs without a purpose.
Why did you think that there is need for an early learning system in a tablet format?
Tablets with touch screens do a wonderful job of engaging children—especially young children. Yet, few thoughts have been put into apps developed for learning purposes. Most so-called educational apps may teach some knowledge through rote learning, but few help to build capabilities. For young children, the most important thing is to learn how to learn. That’s why with VINCI, I want to not just engage children, but also empower and educate them, all in a fun and inspiring context.
How did you transform your idea into a tangible product? How long did it take and what processes did you do?
As a serial entrepreneur and inventor of 20 some patents, getting new ideas and developing products accordingly is already a habit. It took us merely 10 months to put VINCI’s first product in the market. Now we are already pushing out generation II.
What challenges did you face when you were just starting the business?
When I was doing my first startup, I was mainly focused on the technical aspect of the company and didn’t have too much practical business experience. In turn, when the market demand came, I was not able to effectively scale the company. By the time I started Rullingnet, 15 years after my first startup, I had a lot of business experience, but scaling the company and making people understand what VINCI is about still presented the challenges.
How are you marketing your products and the business?
We are marketing our products and business through a fully integrated approach including social media, word-of-mouth, community engagement, industry events and conferences, media relations, contests, strategic partnerships and building our online and in-store retail presence.
How do you balance motherhood and your business?
My motherhood is my business in the case of VINCI. Every day, I cook diner with and play with my young daughter. Ideas for VINCI come from all these moments. I write blogs and post learning tips to help other parents enjoy time with and support their children. It’s actually a lot more fun than the time I spent doing networking products, which were unrelated to my family life.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My parents and grand parents were entrepreneurs. They taught me to think differently, to always try to find ways to improve. They showed me how they couldn’t settle on mediocrity and that kind of unsettling nature is part of my personality.
I started on my own company when an old boss of mine was ignoring my ideas. Instead of complaining, I quit and tried my own luck. I encourage everybody, men and women to follow their hearts and be empowered to make things happen.
How do you see your business in the next five years?
Over the next five years, we hope to revolutionize early education for toddlers and preschoolers. Often people think education starts from Kindergarten, i.e. once kids are in school. However recent research has shown there is a strong correlation between a three-year-old’s capabilities if they start learning prior to school vs. when in grade school. Kids who know how to learn with enjoyment will simply do better and parents are playing critical role without many people realizing it.
With VINCI, we want to help parents by presenting to them a complete ecosystem for early education that they can reply on, saving their time searching for bits and pieces, so they can spend their valuable time playing with their kids.
What lessons can you share to other entrepreneurs?
Work hard, pay attention to detail, and when you have an idea, make it happen, fast!