Elevator Pitch: Shiny Things

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with founder Mat Peterson from Shiny Things.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Shiny Things are a team of designers, developers, researchers and educators based in Sydney, dedicated to creating apps for kids that are simple, engaging, innovative, and packed full of great educational content.

We believe that technology has the potential to be a powerful tool for education because of the way it allows students to interact directly with learning material. Our goal is to harness this to create high-quality and useful education products to assist students and teachers.

We have a range of educational apps including including Quick Math, Shiny Bakery and Shiny Circus that teach kids key math and language skills. Our apps have been downloaded over 1 million times globally.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We are working with strategic partners to leverage the key strengths of the mobile platform which allows us to market our apps to the entire globe.

At present our products are available in 125 countries worldwide, thanks to the App Store, and in the future we will look to expand our presence on other platforms. We try to engage with our consumers and create products that are relevant for the market.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge we face is that we are currently bootstrapping which unfortunately means we have to be very selective with which of our ideas we go ahead with. On top of this, App development is exceedingly expensive in Sydney and it’s a challenge to move to profitability.

The educational app development space is relatively new – particularly in Australia. Every day is a learning curve for us which is exciting but also creates developmental challenges. It’s a very competitive field, so making sure that we’re making apps that are engaging and educational in Australia and the world.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Since our products are made for children, we have a strong focus on building quality products that they will love and want to use. We work closely with educators, children, and parents during the app development stages and take on board their feedback when it comes to content and design.

We also strongly believe in customer privacy which is why our apps don’t have any third-party advertisements, no in-app purchases directed at kids and we don’t collect any data.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Dropbox. All our design and development is done via Dropbox, both for ease of collaboration and for offsite backup.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

“Make mistakes faster” by Andy Grove However, I like to add to that and say you need to learn fast as well.

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