A Q&A with Scoot & Doodle founder and CEO Christine Egy Rose. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2012 and secured a Seed funding round earlier this month. Investors include publishing and education company Pearson, and Angels.
SUB: Please describe Scoot & Doodle and your value proposition.
Rose: With our Social Creativity platform, friends and classmates get together for creative jam sessions that are fun, compelling ways to develop critical 21st century learning and innovation skills.
Inside our first collaborative studio, Scoot & Doodle on G+ Hangouts, young people connect face-to-face, teaming up with others to tackle creative challenges, draw, tell stories, do homework and collaborate on projects in real-time. All this is done while naturally practicing the ‘Four Cs’: creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking—which educators know are vital elements to a student’s future success in life and work.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Rose: Our users are young people, ages 13-to-22, from middle school through college. We’re focusing on the education channel—teachers, schools, after-school programs—due to the overwhelming interest from both students and educators.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition and what differentiates you from them?
Rose: It’s a very young field. Most digital learning products focus on math and reading, and language arts. Few products focus on helping students work on innovation and learning skills like creativity and collaboration. The collaboration products that exist are productivity tools geared towards teachers, not students—like Google Drive or WebEx-like interactive whiteboards.
Scoot & Doodle is different. We provide a student-centered, student-led creativity platform that combines peer collaboration, thought-provoking content, social community and open-ended design.
SUB: When was the company was founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Rose: From the beginning, I was talking with educators and working with experts formerly from Stanford Institute of Design K12 Lab, San Francisco’s Exploratorium, and MIT Media Lab.
After that, like every entrepreneur, I did multiple things simultaneously—found contract designers to flesh out the concept, recruited co-founders and technical talent, and raised an initial amount of funding. Our team then built a web app that sparked Google+Hangout’s interest. A few months later, we debuted Scoot & Doodle on Hangouts as one of five premier apps on the Hangouts platform.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Scoot & Doodle? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Rose: The inspiration for Scoot & Doodle was gradual with some ‘aha’ moments along the way. Our initial company goal was to create an engaging, playful online space where friends and families could spend time together. Right away, we could see long, deep engagements. But our real ‘aha’ moment came when we noticed how many students were using our creative studios for both schoolwork and entertainment. I met one of these students while at Google I/O walking through the crowd with a Scoot & Doodle sticker on my backpack. Out of the blue, a young man yelled out, “I love Scoot & Doodle! My friends and I use it all the time.” He’s a UCLA computer science student who uses our Hangouts studio to communicate and collaborate visually with classmates. He said he loves the product because he and his friends not only use Scoot & Doodle for their studies, but to hangout and have fun making hilarious drawings together.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Rose: The name actually came from my kids. Their nicknames are ‘Scoot’ and ‘Doodle.’ We chose it because it captures the playfulness, fun and connectedness that we wanted to come across in our products.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Rose: Recruiting top technical talent is an ongoing challenge in the Bay Area. The main problem we see in this job market is that there aren’t enough talented developers looking for full-time jobs at a startup. Many developers are freelancing and at the same time starting their own companies. Where we have had success is working with great developers on a project basis and winning them over to full-time status.
SUB: You just closed a Seed round, bringing total funding to $2.25 million. What are your plans for the new funds?
Rose: We’re excited about the investment, and we will use the funds to complete development of mobile products, starting with an iPad app, and expand our reach in the education market. We will also add to our technical team.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Rose: It was a good time for us to fundraise because of our success with our Hangouts product, the leadership position we have in the social creativity space, and the positive sentiment about ed tech in the investment community.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Rose: We’ve spent a lot of time thinking and testing our revenue plan, but our main focus for the foreseeable future is on building our core audiences of students. The good news we learned is that all the revenue models are open to us: paid subscription, free-to-play with in-app purchase, enterprise sales to schools, etc.
With Pearson as an investment partner, we feel we can further reach teachers, students and parents who care deeply about the 21st century learning and innovation skills that we support in our product. And Pearson’s unparalleled reach to the K20 community will help us get there.
SUB: What are your goals for Scoot & Doodle over the next year or so?
Rose: We believe, like many, that students need the cognitive flexibility and innovation and learning competencies to thrive in a world that is increasingly complex, global, and technology-rich. We want to be the defining social creativity platform and learning tool for the 21st century.
Scoot & Doodle – www.scootdoodle.com