As my personal interest lies in the nexus between Education and Gaming, I was drawn to Mind Snacks, a smart startup who blends gameplay elements with learning new languages.
Founder and CEO of Mind Snacks. Jesse has attended Syracuse University and has focused worked with digital ad agency Razorfish before being tapped for funding for the Mind Snacks venture.
“MindSnacks delivers learning in bite-sized lessons that can be accessed anywhere at anytime.”
Within 2.5 years of its founding, Mind Snacks has received over 6.5 million (USD) in start-up investment from Sequoia Capital in their latest fund raising cycle. Prior to that it raised 1.2 million (USD) from a variety of smaller funds and angel investors.
In 2010, Jesse Pickard and his business partners sough to find a way to turn their Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja addictions into something with greater meaning. Lacking any true options, they launched an educational app that used the addictive mechanics of mobile gaming to teach people those fundamental vocabulary, reading, writing and comprehension skills in their language of choice.
One of interesting aspects of Mind Snacks is its attempt to capitalize on addictive and repetitive gameplay to increase learning and retention. This application is an aggressive attempt to bring this about in a very user friendly and engaging format. From the perspective of scholarship, there does not appear to be any study or work presented by the company that attempts to justify or prove their objectives. The CEO has some background in user interface development and is counting on the ‘game experience’ to be the principle draw for the user. With a bit more theory behind their practice, this tool could be very well received by school boards and educational networks who require strong theoretical underpinnings for new products that may be useful for enhancing the educational experience. One interesting aspect of their work is the data that their app collects on ‘how well’ you complete the games. Low scores indicate problems with one aspect of the language while high score demonstrates strengths. This information could be used to by the user to understand where they need to improve and where their natural abilities lie.
The company itself is very small at this point which allows its team to collaborate rapidly and effectively in executing its goals. However, this may later become a challenge should they expand as it is always difficult to preserve the informal atmosphere once a considerable amount of new employees make their presence felt.