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 Alice Brooks from Roominate.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Roominate is an award-winning and customisable line of toys that inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Roominate develops spatial and fine motor skills, engages hands-on problem solving skills, boosts self-confidence and teaches basic circuitry.
Girls build their own unique creations using the tools inside Roominate: structural walls and floors, modular furniture building pieces for stairs, couches, and bunk beds, and the lights and motors for elevators, windmills and carousels. Every girl creates something unique, from the Golden Gate Bridge to a rocket ship, from a car wash to their own bedrooms.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We got our first funding through Kickstarter where we hit our $25K goal on the fifth day. We went on to raise $86K over our 30-day campaign. We also appeared on Shark Tank, where we landed a deal for a $500K investment.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
There are so many toys out there, backed by huge company budgets that can spend a lot more on marketing than we can. So it is all about being creative in how we get our message out there and getting the toy in front of as many kids as possible.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We are the only company making toys targeted at girls that teach them about building and circuits, and in a way that is more engaging than their other toys. Another thing that sets Roominate apart is how much it encourages creativity through open-ended play. Our customers send in pictures and videos every day of the amazing things they’ve made using Roominate.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
I can't live without my Gmail app on my iPhone
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Always listen to your customers. We had the idea to do a building toy for girls over three years ago, but took the first six months to iterate on our ideas, test, and design a product experience that girls truly loved. We spend so much time during our product development process getting feedback from customers to make even better products.
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