Coding Robots For Girls
SmartGurlz is targeting the $40 billion educational technology, or “EdTech” market.
It’s created a line of robot dolls that engage and encourage young girls to learn code.
As the company says, girls can go from “Zero to coding in 60 seconds!”
Today, parents spend an average of $850 per year per child on EdTech products.
Meanwhile, New York-based coding boot camp General Assembly was recently acquired for $412 million by staffing agency Adecco.
But around the world, there is a shortage of people — particularly women — studying the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, also known as “STEM.”
Nearly 75% of young girls are interested in STEM programs. But by age 11, 70% shy away due to a lack of confidence.
As a result, only 7% of STEM degrees are awarded to women.
SmartGurlz was created to change these statistics and reach girls by connecting verbal-emotive thinking with coding robots.
According to company research, play patterns such as storytelling, art, music, and creativity are better suited for engaging girls and young women.
Research shows the young female brain has 10x the amount of connecting matter, which is used for language and communication, compared to young male brains. Female brains also have a larger hippocampus, the part of the brain used for memory and social skills.
Based on this research, SmartGurlz decided to create a series of EdTech products to serve the 7.5 million American girls ages 5 to 14.
It starts with a mini app-controlled scooter and accompanying doll. Girls use a series of software programs, including an e-learning app called SugarCoded, to build code and control the scooter.
There’s also a series of digital games and “missions” that require girls to use their coding skills.
With its dolls and coding programs, SmartGurlz’s goal is to be the leader in EdTech products tailored toward young girls and teenagers.
SmartGurlz launched in late 2016. Since then, the company’s generated more than $1 million in revenue and sold more than 15,000 dolls. Each doll retails for $79.99 and comes with a scooter and the SugarCoded app.
In the future, SmartGurlz will unveil a mini-subscription option, which will include additional apps, games, and physical toys to build off of the initial robotic purchase. The company is projecting nearly $10 million in revenue in 2018 and close to $30 million in 2019.
SmartGurlz appeared on a 2017 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” During the episode, the company received an investment offer from “shark” Daymond John and, as a result of the publicity, revenue increased by 620%.
SmartGurlz has product distribution channels with Amazon, Walmart, and Learning Express…
As well as partnerships with Google, BlackGirlsCode, and the Girl Scouts of America.
In addition, the company has been approached by Nickelodeon and Warner Brothers regarding possible partnerships.
SmartGurlz Co-Founder and CEO Sharmi Albrechtsen has more than 20 years in STEM consumer education, and COO Jesper Nissen has exited three successful tech companies.
Meanwhile, both VP of Business Development Martin Pidel and VP of Online Sales Rob Perry have extensive experience in the toy industry.
Pidel formerly served as Vice President of Hasbro’s Global Brand, while Perry was a former online sales director for Nintendo, a video game company.
Sharmi has more than 20 years’ experience in STEM, specifically as a director of learning, communication, and marketing.
Before starting SmartGurlz, she served as Communications Manager for Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Head of Communication for Sonion, a company producing hearing aid instruments.
She was instrumental in getting SmartGurlz chosen as a participant on ABC’s “Shark Tank” television show, and was recently nominated to AdWeek’s top 37 women “Who Are Disrupting the Status Quo and Championing Gender Diversity in Advertising and Tech.”
Sharmi earned a Bachelor’s degree from Temple University and an MBA from Copenhagen Business School.
Jesper is a longtime engineer and industrial designer who has been instrumental in helping three tech companies achieve successful exits.
He has more than 20 years’ experience in research and development, engineering, production, and logistics.
Prior to starting SmartGurlz, Jesper served as Executive Vice President of Global Operations for Teledyne industrial technology company. This company acquired Reson, where Jesper previously served as VP of Global Operations.
He formerly served as Chief Operating Officer for Kaleido Technology, an electronics manufacturer that was acquired by Millpond.
In addition, Jesper spent nearly 10 years in various senior roles with Phase One digital photography company.
He earned an MBA from Copenhagen Business School.
Siri is the former Vice President of Blue Prism marketing company.
In addition, she spent more than 14 years at Adobe computer software company, serving in roles including Brand Manager and Senior Brand Strategist.
Siri earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Radford University.
Martin brings more than 20 years’ experience in the toy industry to SmartGurlz.
He was formerly Vice President of Global Brand at Hasbro, and Executive Vice President of International at LeapFrog. While with these companies, he introduced brands to retailers around the world, and brokered licensing deals with television studios.
Martin brought hundreds of toys to the market, including Big Hugs Elmo, voted “Pre-school Toy of the Year” in 2014.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an MBA from Schiller International University.
Before joining SmartGurlz, Rob served as an online sales director for Nintendo video game company.
He has a background in digital marketing, specializing in social media and search engine optimization.
Denmark-based investment company that provides capital and networking to technology companies. Portfolio includes StockonDeals (an e-commerce platform) and Human Technologies (voice-controlled assisted living facilities).