Balefire Labs, LLC
Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator
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.
We're in the final two weeks of the Accelerator program, but more importantly, we now have scheduled our beta launch of our service for March 31! This is getting serious!
So in the run-up to the end of the Accelerator, here's what's going on with us:
1. The Final Pitch. Thankfully, we have 10 minutes for our final presentation. Balefire Labs will be presenting on the evening of Tuesday, April 26, so please come out and cheer us on! We're working on a presentation and deck that is as close as possible to what we will use for pitching investors. Tomorrow I'll meet with our mentor team to work on the pitch. Looking forward to it!
2. Raising money. Our Executive Summary is now finished, thanks to our mentor, Henry Noel, who was instrumental in this. That ES will be sent out to Angels this week....biting my nails! (If you know someone who is interesting in this investment opportunity, please contact us and we'll be glad to send you a copy of the ES!)
3. The Website. As with so many things, the devil is in the details and we're working on filling in gaps, writing the text, getting the graphics right!
4. The Beta. We are huge fans of testing and we are SO looking forward to the beta. But good betas don't just throw a product out there and think something is going to happen. So right now we are writing test scripts, writing surveys, finalizing consent documents and planning beta site visits. We'll have a 60-day beta and if we want to get great data then we need to be well-prepared.
5. Marketing. Luckily we don't need this planned to completion before the beta. But a detailed plan and schedule is a must. We are fortunate that we now have a publicist, Naomi Salad, who is working now on our PR plan. We've known Naomi for a bunch of years and she is awesome! (If you're looking for a publicist, let us know and we'll hook you up!)
6. Sales Strategy. You got it. The customer acquisition plan and the customer retention plan. Two great things that go great together. And a big job, to boot.
7. Strategic Partnerships. I've mentioned before that we have a strategic partnership with The University of Texas Mind, Brain and Education Center. They also have a Research Schools Network, so we are not fortunate to have a partnership with the Arlington (TX) Independent School District. It's great for us because AISD has more than 63,000 students, will be helping to align apps to the Texas Education Standards (TEKS), and the district is between Dallas and Ft. Worth ISDs, giving us some great marketing opportuntities. We are talking now to three other districts here in Massachusetts about beta testing with us...those are ideal so that we can visit the sites and watch our users trying out our service.
So we're pretty flat out as we move toward our full launch in June. If you haven't yet, visit our website at www.balefirelabs.com and sign up to be notified of our launch!