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Interview with former SW participants

Part one: Codie

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Mirjam: Let’s start at the beginning, which is the birth of the idea and the team.

Whose idea was Codie and how was the project born?

Ádám: The basic idea behind Codie is that we are teaching kids coding with a smart
application and a robotic device. I had the idea, when  I was teaching freshmen coding at the university few years ago.  When I received the curriculum from my professor, I just realized that this is not the way you should teach coding- it’s not engaging, it is really old method. So I started working on a new method, and which is Codie.

M: Did you know each other before the Startup Weekend?

Á: At the beginning I thought of Codie as a fun project, so I asked one of my
friends if he wants to join- that time we didn’t know about SW .  He joined, so we brought the idea to the event, and some other guys joined as well.

M: Did you hear about Startup Weekend within the framework of a university
promotion?

Á: Yes, actually we were told about the event by our Entrepreneurship teacher on
our class and she/he encouraged us to join  SW.

M: What was the biggest help throughout the weekend?

Á: The biggest help was the time limit itself, because it was really pushing us
towards making the project happen. The other significant help was that we had to pitch -so it wasn’t just another competition where you have to fill in a form or just write what your idea is. The presence of the mentors was really helpful as well, they were giving us many many useful feedbacks .

M: How did the idea change so far? Did you have any heavy conflicts inside the
team when you had to make a decision?

Á: We were talking with our customers, and we did few improvements based on

this.  Actually everybody agreed on these small turnovers or small modifications, so it did not cause any conflict.

M: In March you declared that you’re about to close your first round and you’re

launching your product on Kickstarter in Fall.

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Á: Yes, we closed the first round of funding in April, when we finally signed the
term sheet. We are raising again by the way, because it was a very small
round. And we are officially launching on Kickstarter in the beginning of November. Pretty soon!

M: What do you expect from the launch? Do you have exact numbers?

Á: We expect World Domination of course 🙂 . And let’s see what we can get out
of this campaign. The numbers are not public yet, but you’ll see on Kickstarter how much we are forward to raise.

M: You already started testing your product at schools. How did you chose the
schools?

Á: Actually the schools chose us- they reached out for us, because they heard
about us, they wanted to see this, wanted to test it so that’s how we got in touch with some of the schools. While the other ones were approached by us, because we really  needed some big names- and they “okay, let’s see it”.

K: Your target audience is between the age 10 and 14 . Is the testing going on in
elementary or high schools?

Á: High schools. 6th-7th graders are around 11 or 12, so that’s why high
schools are perfect for the tests. We need feedback from other age groups as well so we are focusing on the entire age group. Like we did one testing last October with kids at the age of 5 . It was the most extreme test that we did and it was a good validation that even they could use it – of course we had to explain how to use it, but  they could use it.

M: Do the kids make frequent tests, or they just use Codie occasionally?

Á: Basically  there are few kids who use it on a regular basis, like  every
week. So we test whether somebody know how to use the product and now how was the programme few weeks ago. During our testing session we invite other newcomer kids who will use it only for few minutes, just to test it. The testing session takes about 20-25 minutes and we chose some practises each week that we want to be tested .

M: I’m sure that  you are planning to enter foreign markets as well…What is your
plan?

Á: Similarly to many startups we are aiming  for the US market. We spent
4 weeks there this June, just to explore it, get to know the school districts, the
parents and kids there, and we kind of elevated the product , the price point and the idea itself. The main target is the US, the second target markets are UK, Finland and Estonia .

M: You had your rebranding party 2 weeks ago What was the aim of the rebranding?

Á: The name “Robophone” stuck with us since the Startup Weekend and
actually it was a good name back then, because that time our product was just a phone extension- you had to put your phone inside the robot. We have problems with that name, because we want to release the tablet version as a new feature and the word “robo” means stolen in several languages – so stolen phone is obviously not the best brand name. This new brand has solved these issues, plus it really shows what we are doing and it also sounds playfully. With the new name we also introduced a new logo and came up with a totally new outlook.

M: What is success for you in  terms of Codie?

Á: In this project success is making the kids happy. We consider as a real
success when they are smiling while testing our product.

M: What is your advice for the future participants?

Á: We spent the Friday evening at a bar and it was very important to put the team together- it was like a very quick team building. We got to know each other, each others’ strength, how can we avail each others’ talent . On Saturday we was the first team who started working in the office and from then we worked a lot until Sunday afternoon. We also spent much time on making and practising our pitch as well.

Kristof Meszaros