In Good Company at LAUNCH EDUCATION!

We had the opportunity to participate in the Launch Education Conference this week. This was  a great event for Ed-Tech entrepreneurs, which started with event lead Jason Calcanis opening with a quote from Pixar’s Ratatouille “Take Care of the New Ones” …. As in the new Start-ups! reviewed 300 different EdTech start-ups to identify 25 to present at this event. I was thrilled that Fingerprint was selected and had the opportunity to share our work with over 400 Teachers, Investors, and Entrepreneurs.   I’m biased towards products that inspire a love of learning AND can be shared between parents and kids.

Here’s some things I’m excited about:

Timbuktu is an Italian based start-up working on an App based magazine for kids. Featuring amazingly beautiful design and content created by renowned authors, this is something wonderful to check out.  I think about it like a modern day Weekly Reader.

Ciufcia (pronounced something like Choo-Choo)  is a start-up from Poland.  They’ve created a web based experience called Duckie Deck. It’s designed for parents or grandparents and kids to play together. They have some very cute games that are designed to create conversations between parents and kids, which I like quite a lot.  Ciufcia stated that ½ of  families in Poland have tried this product. Soon they will be in the App Store here in the US.

Playtell has created a unique app based reading experience that lets Parents and Kids read together. It’s kind of a mash-up of Skype and Interactive books that let’s families read together even when they’re apart. It’s a cool feature!

Start-up Tipitap presented something very fun called HappiTap.  Happitap turns your iPhone into a cuddly stuffed animal.  The phone slips easily into an animal “costume” and becomes the brains of the plush toy.  Happitap is as if Teddy Ruxpin used an iPhone instead of an electronic chip.  Tipitap has created a platform that seems perfect for licensed characters!

Fingerprint wasn’t launching anything new at LAUNCH EDUCATION, but we still had fun and got great feedback from the judges. “You’re Rocking”,  “Love it”, “Very Smart” to name a few!   Here’s a picture of me pitching my heart out.

Great to see so many wonderful companies creating apps that unite families around learning!  It will be fun to watch what happens next.

Attention Grabbing Headline

Yesterday I had the thrill of reading an article about my company, Fingerprint in my local paper, The Marin Independent Journal, affectionately known as the “IJ”. Great article. The reporter told our story well and made me a minor celebrity for a day here in Mill Valley.  I also got to take the physical paper and hang it up on the bulletin board at Fingerprint World Headquarters ….. our first print press coverage. Very exciting!

The crazy thing is that I’ve been stewing over the headline, “Mill Valley woman launches new educational game company”.  Seriously?  If a man had started Fingerprint would the headline have read “Man launches new educational game company”?   My first gaming job was at Broderbund Software. Started right here in Marin, by Doug and Gary Carlson. Somehow I doubt the “IJ”  wrote “Two men launch educational gaming company”.  You get my point.

This comes on the heels of last week’s congressional hearing on whether or  not religious related employers should be required to cover the birth control pill and other forms of contraception in their health insurance plans.  All the people testifying were men. Seriously?  It’s probably not surprising since less than 20% of Congress is women and there are very few  senior level women on Obama’s team.

Aileen Lee from Kleiner Perkins wrote a post on Tech Crunch this week titled “Why your next board member should be a woman”.     She goes on to discuss that while women are 51% of the population, they make up only 15% of Fortune 500 boards of directors and even less of California tech company boards.  Over 50 people posted comments to this article,  most questioning her point of view. Mostly men commenting.

I love that the “IJ” showcased me and Fingerprint, but let’s re-write the headline …  and maybe the future. How about something clever like “Hot Gaming Start-up began in Mill Valley” !

Number 239,223

Imagine my excitement when I saw Reid Hoffman’s name in my inbox. Reid Hoffman is the founder of LinkedIn and a pretty connected guy. I immediately thought …. Wow, he’s heard about Fingerprint and wants to know more ……

Actually, what he wanted was this:

So this wasn’t as cool as having a well known investor reach out about my start-up, but it was, in it’s own way, pretty awesome. Imagine being the 239223rd person to sign up of over 100MM. Early adopter, baby.

I remember the day I joined LinkedIn. Sitting at my desk at Atari in Beverly, Massachusetts looking outside at the snow. I actually remember the person who invited me – a sales guy from AOL. I remember thinking, ugh, this is probably another Plaxo – useful only for recruiters and sales people.

But very quickly LinkedIn became important. I got excited at every milestone. 50 Connections. 100 Connections. 500 Connections. I had my own journey with LinkedIn. There was a moment one day that I realized the Mike Edwards at CompUSA was the same Mike Edwards I’d gone to Drexel with and thought – this could be pretty useful. And the first time I messaged my network asking for Marketing Director referrals and got 40 resumes in one day (which incidentally was 37 more than the Recruiting Department had generated in three weeks). Or the day I posted CEO, Fingerprint Digital on my profile and got dozens of messages asking what I was up to ( aka can I join you?).

I check LinkedIn everyday. Not quite as addictive as Facebook, but compelling still.  My top 5 uses:

1. Check to see who’s looked at my profile.

2. Check to see who wants to make a connection.

3. Check my Message Box.

4. See what’s new with my Groups.

5. Check to see who LinkedIn thinks I might want to connect with. (Very “Six Degrees Of Separation”)

So I like being number 239223. And kudos for LinkedIn for 100MM users and counting, but it would be cool if Reid Hoffman emailed me about Fingerprint, too.

Find me on linkedin