Happy New Year and Thanksgiving


Yes, I realize it’s more traditional to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year but I really am incredibly thankful. Whether you work in education or on a startup you likely tend to end the year with your to-do list undone, fretting about that activity you didn’t rewrite or the students that didn’t understand decimals or the start-up accelerator that didn’t accept your company, the clients that didn’t sign a contract.

Probably like you, I have a tendency to focus on what did not get done or progress that didn’t get made. Yes, we increased our users 50% since February but that’s not the 10% month over month growth investors supposedly want to see. On the other hand, not only did we go over 10,000 users for the first time, we went WAY past 10,000. We don’t have every game available across every platform but we added four games for iPads, three for Chromebooks and five for Android so we really are making crazy rapid progress for a company our size. When I stop to think about what DID get done the past twelve months, I am so grateful for everyone on our team that worked so hard and all of the people who supported us.

Let’s look at what has happened in the past 12 months.

High rise buildings in Santiago in front of snow-covered mountains

We were accepted into Start-up Chile, to expand our bilingual games into another country.

We released our first English – Lakota bilingual game, Making Camp Lakota, that teaches division and Lakota culture. The game can be played in English or Lakota, on iPhones, iPads, Android devices or on the web on any computer with a browser.

We released a Fish Lake demo version, Fish Lake Beginnings for the iPad. It teaches fractions and it’s really cool. I’d recommend this if you are teaching concepts like reducing fractions to lowest terms. I’d recommend having your students play this game because the problems are NOT easy. If they play to the point where they get stuck, which should take 5-10 minutes, then you stop and teach how to reduce fractions, then let them try again. By the way, we have a bunch of videos and powerpoints for that you can find here.

canoeing in Fish Lake

We created custom apps for the Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation Project, for both iOS and Android.

Eagle with buffalo, and a wheel chair

We incorporated a new company, Strong Mind Studios in Chile. (This link is in Spanish because, well, that’s the language they speak in Chile.)

Yaima the llama says feliz año nuevo

but wait, there’s more!

We developed and tested our first game in Chile. We gained experience, which as my grandmother so eloquently put it, is what you get when you don’t get what you want. So, we scrapped that game and came up with not one, but THREE more games.

Yaima y Manuel Rodriguez – a game in Spanish based on Chilean history. In case you were wondering, Manuel Rodriguez is a famous spy and patriot and Yaima is a llama.

Our first two augmented reality apps and our first app for children under age 8 came out as a result of our experiments in Chile. (You can play in Spanish or English, check them out!)

Counting by two languages – our first game for younger children and our first augmented reality game, teaches children to count in two languages.  It’s free, it will teach your child a few words in another language or to recognize and read their numbers in their own language. It will also keep them amused for at least 15 minutes. If you don’t think that is a big plus you have never had to get anything done with a small child running around.

Counting by 2 languages screen shot

Math: The Universal Language AR – has cards with multiplication problems and when you hover over them, the answer appears. Someone has finally come up with a fun way to memorize your multiplication tables and that someone is us. Available for iPhone/iPad or Android.

Numbers in AR app showing answer to 7 x 8

We expanded and organized our teacher resources in Spanish and English

We received a Phase II award from USDA for a new product, Crossroads, that will teach decision-making skills to students in high-risk situations

Crossroads. Currently in Stealth Mode

USDA Small Business Innovation Research Award

Now, you see why I am SO thankful. Take my advice. Before writing your New Year’s Resolutions to do all of whatever it is you felt like didn’t get done last year, sit down, take a moment and be grateful for everything that DID get done. Hurray for you.

I am most thankful for YOU.

We never would have made it without the very first people who stepped up. I will always remember the very first people who bought our games – Michael, Greg and Karen, yes, I remember your actual names.  I remember the first schools that ever tried our games, as buggy as they were back then (the games, not the schools) – Tate Topa Tribal School, Warwick Public School, Ojibwa Indian School and Turtle Mountain Elementary School  – all in North Dakota. Now here we are in over 40 states and soon to be three countries.

We will have been in business five years in 2019. Did you know that half of small businesses don’t survive that long?

Whether you have invested, bought our games for your own kids, used them in your classroom, donated games for low-income schools or just shared information with your friends, we are here because of you. That’s why, today, for me, is Thanksgiving.

(Oh, and a Happy New Year)

 

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