“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Many business ideas come about when entrepreneurs travel, take new classes, recognize patterns, and set aside time dedicated to thinking. Ironically, some of the greatest ideas also come out of what might be perceived by some as boredom, and others as the time to innovate: times during which there are shortages and limitations.
Back in May of this year PlayCraft, which is helping kids develop social, emotional & cognitive skills through play, made it to the Top 10 ideas of the idea challenge.
The Ideator community saw the value of the solution, up-voting the idea over 175 times! All indicators showed PlayCraft was destined for success in the competition. But due to force majeure (or extenuating circumstances), they needed to back out of the competition. We were saddened to see PlayCraft bow out, but knew it was the right choice as the timing was not perfect for the team to present.
So here we are now, without further adieu, let’s dive right into the most voted idea in Ideator and hear from the founder, Iana Avramova, about how PlayCraft came to be and what they’ve been up to since ranking in the top 10 of the idea challenge!
How did you come up with the idea of PlayCraft?
“My whole life is a tracery of study and play, play and study. Growing up during communism with its shortages and limitations were the greatest prerequisite for developing creativity. Spending most of the day outside, learning comes exceptionally through play and exploration. Stealing cherries from the nearby garden and eating them with the pits in order to not leave any trace was one of my fondest memories. The majority of my early years were full of playful activities allowing learning through personal experience, even when the outcome was not positive.
Unfortunately, going to school and moving through the years reflected in playing less, facing many rules, behavioral patterns and high expectations… and by the age of 18, most of my creativity and desire to play was gone. I was following the well-trodden pattern – move abroad; study, study, study; get a diploma and look for a brilliant job just to figure out how average my knowledge was.
It all ended, when my first son started going to the kindergarten. I saw his free spirit slowly changing, transfiguring into the “possible-impossible”, “good-bad” paradigm. And it hit me – there was something incredibly wrong with the educational system. All these rules, do’s and don’ts, patterns, templates, theories (which nobody can tell you how to use in practice), measurements, punishments and suppression of individuality, creativity and thinking – on my opinion cannot be right and surely cannot bring to a positive result. This was the moment when I intuitively thought something needs to be done…It took me years of reading and researching on education, gaming, psychology and innovation….Now it is clear that traditional education around the world is out of date; obviously its inertia cannot be overcome fast enough; clearly it will take time to restructure; conclusively – we need a fast and independent solution to help our children’s well-being in life. And here appeared my primary solution which is the concept of Playcraft: To develop an online platform, where through play children develop key skills for success in life.”
What exactly is the proposed solution?
To design, program, implement and further develop a Play & Learn Online Platform (PLOP) for training children and youngsters between 4-15 years old on key skills. The platform will provide consistent and logically constructed training with incorporated specific methodologies exclusively designed for learning through play.
The PlayCraft team is starting with kids between 4-6 years old and then scaling. To make training easily available, accessible and cheap to as many children as possible, they will use their natural learning environment – the internet. As a first part on the road of creating a Play & Learn Online Platform (PLOP) we are developing an educational game for tablets and phablets. In it learning occurs in the context of a fairy-tale narrative, exploration of authentic learning situations and fun of playing different embedded games. It is supported by friendly Computer Characters taking on different roles (protagonist, antagonist, observer, facilitator) in assisting interactively the learner’s free choice and reaction modeling. The game has built-in permission to fail, which makes it a safe place for exploration of different behavior strategies and receiving instant feedback. Most importantly it aims of increasing self-reflection, self-understanding and confidence. (See all details of the idea here).
The hardest challenge Iana and her team has faced thus far?
“There are two parallel challenges I face – one I am successfully overcoming and the other one I am still fighting. The greatest challenge is the scope of the idea – it is huge, has no limits, it is open-ended and can be constantly developed. This makes it difficult to explain and be understood from many people, including investors. It needs specifics; it needs concrete details and an executable action plan. Most helpful was the Entrepreneurial Program of the Founder Institute (fi.co), where within just 14 weeks PlayCraft went through a marine training of preparation, presentation and validation of the idea and the model. It helped me find the beginning, namely to help kids 4-6 years old to develop cognitive, emotional and social skills through play by creating an educational game for tablets and phablets.
The second challenge is the financing and the development of the pilot project….PlayCraft is applying for European and local projects, financing startup ideas. We strongly believe that we are on the right path, that it is the right moment and by having the first episode we will be able to pre-sale and finance further development.”
Where do you see your company in the future?
“I first see and feel the global idea, imagine it spread all over the world, being used from millions of children from different age, gender and nationality….We want to license Playcraft to UNESCO, UNICEF and other international institutions that can make it accessible for as many children around the World as possible. We want to involve parents, teachers and educational coaches and all together… lay the foundations of the educational system of the future.”
How is Ideator helping?
“Ideator was introduced to me by a study-buddy from the Founder Institute program. I love the idea behind it! Joining it, I aimed to win the past May competition and to win the prize of $5,000 that secures a greatest part of cost for the final development of the pilot. [I received] great support from all the team members and I highly appreciate it. PlayCraft is in the top 5 ideas out of 100 that are participating in the challenge and we are going to the finals. Unfortunately (for PlayCraft), giving birth of my second son at this time, stopped us from participating. Sharing [the news] with Jessica from Ideator that unfortunately we could not participate, I felt so taken care of by her answer. It was full of understanding, support and interest of how it is all going. Even though we did not make it to the finals, it helped us proof that we are on the right track that the idea is valid. Thanks to Ideator, PlayCraft has the incredible opportunity to reach potential Investors, advisors and possibly team members to join our mission of helping our children’s well-being in life. So, thank you Ideator for the presented possibility and for the trust in the idea!”
Follow PlayCrafts journey on Ideator today! Once you sign in, click here.