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.


Pitch, pitch, pitch! It's all about the mid-session pitch this week!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm nervous. I've never done a pitch before. I have plenty of public speaking experience, but this is a whole different thing and I'm not looking forward to being so, well, judged.

So I have my financials all figured out, I have my pitch script and I know what I'm going to say. Getting it down to three minutes? Well, that's another story. But I've had good feedback from our lead mentor, Trish Fleming, and I'm meeting with our other two mentors, Barrie Atkin and Henry Noel, for dress rehearsal and feedback, tonight.

Some other good news, it looks like we are now official research partners of the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain & Education at the University of Texas. We're super excited about this...not only a chance to work with researchers to validate our criteria, but also to work with teachers at the Arlington Independent School District on using our tool!  Putting the Center's logo on our website will also help with our credibility.

We've finished our financial modeling as well and we're feeling pretty optimistic.  We've been surveying customers about their pain points, whether or not our tool is interesting to them, and what they would be willing to pay for a subscription.  What is fascinating so far is that their answers are very different when we pitch an annual subscription price versus a monthly breakdown of the annual price.  We won't be selling month-to-month subscriptions, but marketing is everything!  Next step is to test the prices to see what people will actually sign up for...a modified "kickstarter" model.

This past weekend we also got some GREAT video footage of a mom and her kids using apps, talking about apps, and talking about the app shopping experience.  We have another family on the docket this week and then we'll have what we need for our promo video that will be part of the pricing test.

It's a grateful for my team at Balefire!  How do single-person startups get it all done??