Toymail is reimagining the mobile phone for kids

Toymail is reimagining the mobile phone for kids

It’s been a while since we checked in with Toymail , the kids messaging startup that piloted its first product on Kickstarter back in fall 2013 . Its idea was to turn Wi-Fi-enabled toys into a screen-less connectivity medium that let parents send voice messages to their kids via a companion smartphone app. The basic idea is to house simple mobile phone-like features (i.e. one-to-one messaging) in a far cuter and kid-friendly package, targeting kids aged two to eight years old. The Wi-Fi toys offer the promise of play with the parental reassurance of connectivity but without the unwanted side-effect of training young kids to become fixated on screens from a very early age. The Internet-connected functionality in Toymail’s toys is limited to audio features. Any visuals — beyond the look of the toy itself — have to be imagined by the child. A couple of years on from its Kickstarter and Toymail is in Y Combinator’s winter 2016 batch. Co-founder Gauri Nanda says it’s now fully focused on building out a messaging platform capable of addressing the mass market, with its earlier crowdfunding campaign having been a way to beta test their ideas in public (they raised just over $80,000 via Kickstarter, and have sold more than 20,000 toys to date). “We’ve had a really big year. We sold about $800,000 worth organically of that product — without any marketing and ad spend. And since then we’ve also raised money from Amazon and Verizon, and now we’re in Y Combinator,” Nanda tells TechCrunch. “Over the last year we’ve been perfecting the product and releasing some new characters around it, to really get the product ready for mass market.” “It’s a huge untapped market. 95 per cent of kids under 10 don’t have their own phone. And the reason […]