1No. 1: Bo’s School Day
Who: Steven Lohle, co-creator
What it offers: Bo’s School Day walks children ages 3-5 through the routine of getting ready for school, from packing lunchboxes to hanging up coats in the classroom.
Entrepreneur story: Steven Lohle and his wife Esther Naalden, a children’s book author based in the Netherlands, decided to make his wife’s illustrations widely available to an international audience through apps. The couple has produced five apps in total, with hundreds of thousands of downloads between them.
2No. 2: Geography Drive
Who: Matt Hutton, CEO of Spinlight
What it offers: Geography Drive teaches kids ages 9-11 fun facts about places in the United States, in addition to capitals, national rivers and historical events.
Entrepreneur story: With Spinlight, Hutton has been making apps since 2011, with twelve titles available right now. “We have apps for a pretty wide age range,” says Hutton, as a number of the apps focus on basic phonics. Right now, the company is seeking for funding in order to grow the four-person team and increase productivity.
3No. 3: Intro to Letters
Who: Bobby George, co-founder of Montessorium
What it offers: George runs the first accredited Montessori school in South Dakota, and wanted to translate the classroom experience to an app in order to bring it to a wider audience. “It was an unprecedented opportunity to reach kids on a scale we had never seen and democratize Montessori,” he says.” Intro to Letters teaches children the basics of the alphabet, while Montessorium’s newest app, the self-explanatory Intro to Cursive, will launch this week.
Entrepreneur story: George says Montessori traditionalists were originally opposed to the apps, as they don’t believe in technology. But soon after launch, George received an encouraging email from none other than Steve Jobs, who told him not to get discouraged, and that the parents and kids would prove his app’s worth. Since then, Montessorium’s apps have been featured in iPad commercials, and on an international iPad billboard campaign.
4No. 4: Grades 2 and Grades 3
Who: Jeremy Olson, founder of Tapity, Inc.
What it offers: Grades version 2 allows students to keep track of grades and quickly calculate what they need to get to improve their overall grade. Olson originally designed it for college students but says it’s widely used by students in middle school and high school as well. Grades version 3 will be released this week, and will help students remember due dates and set reminders.
Entrepreneur story: “I got a D on a fateful statistics test and wanted to know how to recover back to an A,” says Olson. After doing the calculations on pen and paper, he realized it would make a great app for students. Olson’s other educational apps, including Languages, a translation dictionary, have also made an impact in the app community. Languages reached No. 5 on the app charts in the U.S., and No. 1 in France.
5No. 5: Endless Alphabet
Who: Rex Ishibashi, CEO of Originator, Inc.
What it offers: Endless Alphabet offers kids the opportunity to learn their ABC’s and build vocabulary, with over 50 words to learn through animations. With 25+ years’ experience in Silicon Valley, Ishibashi says the app is designed to add value in short sessions, since most kids use devices that are passed back to them for brief periods of times by parents or older siblings.
Entrepreneur story: “We knew we had to entertain and educate to feel good about the app experience,” says Ishibashi.
A+ Entrepreneurs Behind Back-to-School Apps