Montreal-based MakerBloks Hits Crowdfunding Goal in Two Days! Wants to Rethink How Kids Learn Electronics

MakerBloks A Montreal startup that wants to teach children about electronics is seeing strong success on Kickstarter, reaching its $25,000 goal on the second day of its crowdfunding campaign. MakerBloks are colourful blocks that allow children to create real electric circuits. A Kickstarter campaign to fund their creation launched on Tuesday morning, raising over $20,000 within 24-hours and reaching its goal on Wednesday afternoon. Francois Poirier, the CEO and creator of MakerBloks says he got the idea while working as a product designer. Clients would come to him with little more than a circuit board and his job was to make the products look good and be easy to use, but he says, “I actually had no idea what they had in their hand, the [printed circuit board] itself was a mystery to me.” Poirier says his then-seven-year-old niece was developing a strong interest in science and technology at the same time so he thought it would be fun for the two of them to learn about electronics together.

“I looked at all the different ways to do it, software, books, DVDs and toys,” he says, but nothing fit. When it comes to toys, he says, “they are all bad, they are all using outdated technology.” He says the toys on the market might make sense to engineers but they don’t make sense to a six-year-old. Having worked as a consultant for Mega Brands, he thought about creating an educational tool that involved bright plastic blocks.

One of the MakerBloks kits being launched as part of the Kickstarter campaign also includes a augmented reality feature – a mirror that attaches to an iPad’s camera and allows children to solve puzzles in a virtual game using their real-world blocks. It’s another thing that Poirier says sets MakerBloks apart from other electronics kits on the market. “They don’t use what the kids are using,” he says. “I thought it was important to adapt to the kids of today.” Still, Poirier says MakerBloks won’t be going entirely virtual. “For me it’s really important to always have the hardware piece, the blocks,” he says. “Because if they are more interested in electronics when they are 10, 12-years-old and they actually want to pick up a soldering iron and build real circuits, it’s always going to be a physical world.” As part of the Kickstarter campaign, MakerBloks is offering several different kits as individual perks, that will help guide future developments from the company. “I think the Kickstarter campaign will actually give us a really good idea of what our audience wants,” Poirier says. That’s a big part of why he decided to launch his product through a crowdfunding campaign. “Gaining visibility and validating the product is the major reason we’re doing the Kickstarter, for sure the funding will help but it’s not the main goal,” he says. “Dollars are the best feedback you can get.” While delivering the MakerBloks on time and living up to the promises made in the Kickstarter campaign is Poirier’s main goal right now, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants MakerBloks to be the flagship product of a company that’s focused on science, technology, engineering and math learning for kids.

Makerbloks Awards
Makerbloks Press Coverage

Originally posted in TechVibes Canada








Nature or nurture? Can entrepreneurship be taught? (COMIC)

#entrepreneurfail Early Signs of Entrepreneurship

I recently volunteered as a business plan coach for high school students through the National Foundation of Teaching Entrepreneurship, and was impressed that each and every student (in a mandatory class) was excited about their potential ventures and significantly improved their skills during the session. Is it possible that every child has the potential to become an entrepreneur?

Scientists have always wondered what characteristics are innate, and what traits can be molded based on upbringing. Are there some indicators of future entrepreneurial success? Seems like the jury is out on that question. There are many successful entrepreneurs that started a proverbial lemonade stand and newspaper route, but there’s also a good share of them that launched their first venture in their ripe middle ages.  And MBA programs are teeming with students hoping to learn the nuggets that will help them endeavor into entrepreneurship.

We’ve all heard the tales of massively successful startups and their humble roots in a garage, or a dorm room. What if it has even humbler roots in a baby’s crib! Many experts claim that although some traits are inborn, others can be learned. In a recent TEDx talk, Cameron Herold talks about how to raise kids to be entrepreneurs. Perhaps some of you current entrepreneurs can relate to the stories he tells and perhaps future parents can plan their activities accordingly!  Also, let’s not forget that recently, Entrepreneurship Barbie was launched, helping girls envision a life of fashionable shoes and new ventures. It’s the age of the “kidpreneur” scream many gurus, and here’s a telling infographic to help in that goal.

All in all, the one trait that is truly a deal breaker is experience. I think every child and adult has the potential to become an entrepreneur if he/she has the desire to test, try it, and learn from it at least once.

Were you a kidpreneur? Or at least showed the traits early on? Or did the bug come and bite you later in life? Let us know in the comments below.

This post and comic were adapted from #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.