Balefire Labs, LLC

Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator

Company Description

Are you a parent or educator who has been frustrated by the process of finding high quality, effective, educational apps for your children or students to use on the iPad or tablet device? We are. The app stores have user reviews, but they are so subjective and not very helpful. But what if there was a service that provided app reviews that were standardized, with objective review criteria....where you could easily compare and contrast apps by subject or grade level? A site that is run by learning scientists, educational researchers and teachers who know about principles of great instructional design and usability design? And what if you could go there and in less than five minutes find the best available apps for teaching your kids? That's the vision of Balefire Labs. We want to help parents, educators and, ultimately, kids to find and use the best educational apps on the market. With more than 115,000 ed apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores, figuring out what's good and what's not is nearly impossible. And as the number of iPads, Android tablets, Kindle devices and iPod Touches that kids use increases, the time's not far off when just about every parent and teacher will have the same problem. Let us help. We'll point you to the best apps, saving you time and helping you feel good about the time your kids spend using devices.


I have to confess, it's been nice to have a break for the holidays.  I'm in California (where I grew up) visiting family and friends....nice to have a break from constant ruminating about my start-up too!

But after a week, I am getting itchy to come back to our Accelerator meetings and get cracking on the goals we submitted on December 20.  We spent a good deal of time with our mentors and had quality discussions about where we want to be by the end of our 12 weeks.

Twelve weeks isn't a long time and we have a lot to do, so here's where we plan to be by the end of February:

1. Complete and test our business model.

Yeah, kind of a big one...but let me break it down.  To complete and test our business model, here are the things we need to do:

  • Parents or Educators? Who is our first segment? We know that these customers have similar problems that they're trying to solve. We also know that their purchase process can be very different. Given our limited marketing budget, we need to choose one group to be first.  So which will it be?  Our market research will help us make that decision.
  • What will our Revenue Model be? We think our initial roll-out will be a subscription model. But how should we structure it? What will customers be willing to pay for? And how much will they be willing to pay? All tests we need to conduct.
  • What is our Value Proposition? This ties in to our question about our first segment. We think that the Value Proposition is similar for parents and educators, but we also think it's likely that teachers may have additional needs that parents don't necessarily have.  More testing!
  • How do we Grow? What? I'm just worried about launching and now I have to think about growing??  Yeah, afraid so. So once we launch, how do we keep finding new customers? What are the ways in which people will find us? How do we continue to add value for our existing customers? How do we target new segments? How do we add additional revenue streams? Yup, we need a plan that takes us beyond Day One.


2.  Perfect our pitch.  

We know the end of the 12 weeks will sneak up on us, and we need to be ready with a great pitch.  Of course, we need to have answers to all of those bullet points in Goal #1. And then we need to be able to communicate all of that in a clear, concise way that will convince everyone within earshot why they should care!  It's a given that we need an amazing pitch for the Accelerator pitch contest. But we will need to deliver our pitch on demand from that point forward.  


So there you have it.  We think our goals are ambitious, but attainable.  There are a million little details within these high-level goals, not to mention the fact that we will simultaneously strive to put an infrastructure in place to manage everything.  But we're ready to go!  Bring it on, 2013!

It's amazing how much you can get done in 3 hours' of heads-down working and that's what we had at the Accelerator tonight.  I completed our first draft of our Accelerator goals and tomorrow, after revising with my team, off it will go to our mentors!!

Which reminds me, we are delighted to welcome our mentors for the Accelerator to our extended family!

Ms. Barrie Atkin:

Ms. Trish Fleming:

Mr. Henry Noel:

We are super excited to work with all three of them and ready for them to kick our butts!!

Progress, end of Day 1:


On to more tomorrow!

Yesterday was a great introductory session to the Accelerator.  Many thanks to Raj, David, Lianna, Emil, Valerie and Claudia for giving up part of their Sunday to be with us entrepreneurs!

I was really pleased to learn that we'll be using Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur's Business Model Generation text and the business model canvas in the Accelerator.  I've used this text and approach in one of my past lives and it works!  I'm so grateful not to be starting from scratch on this one!

Here's our canvas, nice and clean.....look for updates with lots of post-its stuck on this sucker!