Q&A With Google Ventures, 500 Startups-Backed Mobile Kids Learning Game Platform, Stickery
October 12, 2011 by Gwendolyn Regina T
Having always been a LEGO fan, Bjorn Lee can now count visiting toy stores and revisiting aspects of his childhood as part of his work. Together with co-founders Jarrold Ong and Fadly Mahdar, he just announced the seed round raise of their new mobile learning game platform for kids, Stickery, whose mission is to “make mobile games that are not just fun for kids, but useful for parents.”
Stickery’s USD 325K seed round consists of Google Ventures, 500 Startups and several strategic investors from the United States, Europe and Asia. This also coincides with the launch of the game: “Mermaid Waters: Adventures of Hana & Cory” (iTunes) for iOS. This game is the first of a serialized adventure and learning platform for preschool children and their parents.
Both Bjorn and Jarrold are old friends and ex-schoolmates of mine from the Stanford-NUS Overseas College program so it was exciting to speak to them again on this new venture of theirs. Here we have a mini Q&A with Bjorn, CEO of Stickery.
The journey from E27 to Stickery has been amazing. I co-founded E27.sg in 2006 during my final year in college and was active in the early years. After graduating, I worked in venture capital briefly before joining a fast-growing and well-funded startup in China. It was an exhilarating time as I helped my CEO to pitch to the best investors in Asia & Silicon Valley. That stint fortified my passion to create my own startup.
You’ve since moved on to co-founding Stickery. Tell us about this startup.
In late 2010, we shut down Jabfish, an iJam-funded startup that was profitable, cash-flow positive but unscalable to start Stickery. Life is short so I live by the “fail-fast” maxim for startups. The idea for Stickery came about when we were selected in November 2010 as the only non-US team for a mobile learning bootcamp by IDEO & Startl, a mobile learning incubator. We bootstrapped Stickery for a while before acceptance into the high-profile AngelPad program on the advice of my ex-Googler mentor, Gokul Rajaram.
What are the top three items on your wishlist now for Stickery?
(1) Building an A team for product
(2) Making children’s games truly useful for parents and not just for distraction valuer for kids
(3) Understanding user needs of parents in the smartphone era
What were your key takeaways from AngelPad?
(1) Real product management advisers are lacking in Singapore. The AngelPad founders launched successful and scalable web products like GMail, AdSense and nothing tops having awesome folks to coach your team.
(2) Investors who have done the gory operational bits before are priceless.
(3) Never stop looking for social proof when fundraising.
How long did you take to raise your USD 325K round?
It took 1 month to figure out the serious guys and 2 months to get all the paperwork done and cash in bank.
Do you have an office in the Bay Area? And in Singapore?
Our product team is in Singapore but I shuttle back and forth between SG and Silicon Valley. I work out of the awesome 500 Startups penthouse office that is the highest point in downtown Mountain View.
Trailer for their game, “Mermaid Waters: Adventures of Hana & Cory”:
The company is also hiring iOS engineers with a passion in children’s media and “wants to make a ‘ding in the universe’ (Steve Jobs reference) for children’s gaming in the smartphone era”. (By the way, you should also check out this startups-focused jobs portal that SGE started, with e27 as one of the partners.)
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
About The Author
Gwendolyn Regina T - Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Gwen is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SGE. Previously, she was a partner of early stage technology investment firm, Thymos Capital and she has had two exits, one of which is iHipo. She is also an investor in Padlet, a Y-Combinator startup. Gwen also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute, Steering Commmittee for the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation Awards 2013, and Board of Advisors for Social Media Week 2013. A frequent public speaker, mentor and judge at various startup bootcamps, events and competitions, Gwen loves meeting founders, developers, designers and scientists across all ages. An alumnus of the National University of Singapore and its University Scholars Programme, Gwen also spent some time in Silicon Valley and is a graduate of the NUS-Stanford University overseas college programme. She is also a mentor at Polish tech startup incubator Gamma Rebels, the Singapore curator for US-headquartered StartupDigest and the Singapore Ambassador for the Sandbox Network - the leading global network of innovators under 30. Gwen has also been a Worldwide Judge for Imagine Cup - the premier student technology competition helmed by Microsoft. She has also spoken in Hong Kong at one of its largest youth conferences, MaD Asia, and was recently in Austria to help envision the future of the country's economy in 2032 on invitation from an Austrian governmental organization. Gwen speaks 3.25 languages, loves physics, travelling, dance and adventure sports. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Gwendolyn Regina T