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My Growing Ed-Tech Startup That’s Living the DreamWorks

How I Sealed the Deal of a Lifetime with the Support of Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars

If you’d told me a few years ago that I would become a tech founder in Silicon Valley, I would’ve laughed. That was a far cry from what I was doing back then — studying Medical Informatics and Respiratory Therapy in Taiwan.

Cut to 2020.

Thinker-Tinker, the ed-tech company I founded in 2016, just closed our biggest contract to date — working with DreamWorks to develop its inaugural line of DreamWorks Trolls interactive smart plush toys.

A massive and exciting leap from where I began? Absolutely. And one I couldn’t have done without the help of Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars.

From Solo Founder to Super Accelerated Startup

The mission at Thinker-Tinker has always been centered on designing better and more engaging learning opportunities when it comes to screen time for kids. In our second year as a company, we launched two successful crowdfunding campaigns featuring our original educational smart toy, Octobo.

This octopus-shaped soft toy learns, plays and grows with kids through your mobile device, interactive storybooks, and educational apps. The number of preorders we received during that time blew us away: 558 preorders in just 40 days.

 

We had demand. But exactly how Thinker-Tinker was going to grow to meet that demand was still very much up in the air.

It was around this time we were selected to join the inaugural class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars, which takes place at Comcast’s global headquarters in Philadelphia.

I knew I needed support with thinking bigger and imagining how I could scale my business. I also knew I wanted to join an accelerator that could support my vision of bringing healthy entertainment to kids. I quickly learned that LIFT Labs partners specifically with companies tackling breakthroughs in connectivity, immersive experiences, media, and entertainment. In addition, they connect founders with experts from inside the company and with their network of partners, making their program uniquely valuable for media-relevant companies. The LIFT Labs accelerator felt like the perfect fit.

Turns out, that was one of the best decisions of my life. The 13-week LIFT Labs accelerator gave me everything a founder in my position could possibly hope for, and more. I was immediately connected with power players in the media and toy-making industries, leading to life-changing conversations and incredible business opportunities. And throughout everything, LIFT Labs equipped me with world-class mentorship that proved crucial for weathering the highs and challenges of any growth journey.

On top of all this I got:

  • Storytelling expertise in the form of pitch workshops and media training, plus marketing assets like a product video, photos and stories I could use to market my company.
  • Access to mentors and experts that would have been nearly impossible to get on my own, resulting in relationships with startup champions inside the company who still support me today.
  • A “forever” network of fellow founders and leaders. I’m just as close with the people and mentors in my program as I was when I joined two years ago.

These resources and opportunities combined made all the difference for Thinker-Tinker, giving us what we needed to become the company we are today. Ultimately, the resulting business-savvy and network gained from the program was also what helped us to attract the attention of one of the biggest media partners out there: DreamWorks.

Big Moments, Bigger Opportunities

Today, Thinker-Tinker has a lot to look forward to. Our DreamWorks Trolls plush collection is already well on its way and will be launching in Fall 2020. It will take Thinker-Tinker’s creativity to an entirely new level, by allowing fans to bring their favorite Dreamworks Trolls characters to life by collecting unique Trolls plush toys to unlock features in the interactive music game, Music Stars powered by Thinker-Tinker.

It’s incredible to think that I could go from being a new startup founder to collaborating with a huge global franchise in a matter of years. But, big moments like these truly clarify the importance of the type of support you seek when founding a company. I know I couldn’t have reached this milestone without the LIFT Labs Accelerator program and all the support it gave me. The people I met, the connections I made, the introductions I received, the mentorship — everything brought Thinker-Tinker to new heights and I’ll be forever grateful for the results.

If you’re ready to start your own adventure, apply to be part of the 2020 LIFT Labs Accelerator before applications close May 10, 2020.

And want to support Thinker-Tinker’s next chapter? We are currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign with Netcapital for a limited time, to offer a chance for folks like you to own a piece of our business and join our exciting journey! Invest today.


My Growing Ed-Tech Startup That’s Living the DreamWorks was originally published in Startup Grind on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jeremy Webb Startup Grind - Medium https://medium.com/startup-grind/my-growing-ed-tech-startup-thats-living-the-dreamworks-910660da7402

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Jeremy Webb

Chief technologi.st & Adventurer about.me/jeremy.webb

Jeremy WebbMy Growing Ed-Tech Startup That’s Living the DreamWorks

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