The educational technology sector, or “edutech,” is seeing both advances in and greater attention to niche markets. The growing integration of technology into people’s daily lives has provided a great opportunity for better learning and developmental apps. One such product comes from Zoe Peden, a co-founder of Insane Logic, a 1M/1M premium member company.
After nine years in educational and academic publishing, Peden became a senior manager at The Makaton Charity in 2007. The U.K.-based charity has developed a language program focused on effective communication skills for children and adults with learning disabilities. However, this popular program to aid language acquisition was available only on paper. Customer demand for a mobile version was growing quickly.
In 2010, Peden left the charity to co-found Insane Logic, a company that provides interactive communication products for use in both the education and health sectors. She was joined by her tech-savvy friend Andrew Jackman. With permission from Makaton, Peden drew upon her experience there to further develop the program, which combines symbols and sign language to develop communication skills. Over the course of 12 months, she worked with speech and language therapists and teachers to develop and run trials of the app.
MyChoicePad was released in 2011 as the startup’s flagship product. The app follows Peden’s research by targeting the language therapy and educational markets. In addition to providing affordable access to such technology, MyChoicePad has helped construct a nationwide training franchise in the U.K. A subsequent survey showed that 60 percent of users experienced an increase in language development just after four weeks of use.
The app did not initially encounter a great deal of competition. Excluding opposition from expensive medical devices, MyChoicePad entered the market as the sole affordable option. Only Proloquo2Go, targeted at higher-level language abilities, had been successful in the field. By positioning the app as a premium investment at £74.99, MyChoicePad became the first affordable option for people with communication issues.
Peden bootstrapped until July 2012. However, she was selected as a winner of the U.K.’s Big Venture Challenge in 2011, earning Insane Logic a grant and three years’ financial support. The company was also granted seed investment in July 2012, when they were selected to participate in the U.K.-based accelerator program, Wayra. These additional funds allowed Peder and her co-founder to begin building their small team.
Using the existing Makaton network, Peden built conversation about the app through the charity’s trainers. The professionals involved in Peden’s 18 months of developmental research provide a strong endorsement for the app. As a result, word of mouth and Internet search generate considerable customer acquisition without the need for additional marketing. And with 1,600 paying downloads in the App Store as well as 8,000 free users, Insane Logic is now post-revenue and breaking even.
The company continues to generate business through the release of a suite of free educational games. Focused on memory, categories and matching, the games target a more mainstream audience that extends to parental use for children under five. Training models now exist both on and offline with subscription revenue streams. Insane Logic also sells iPads preloaded with their software and training programs.
In 2012, MyChoicePad was selected as a finalist for innovation in the Technology4Good awards. It is consistently ranked among the Top 10 grossing educational apps in the country. Peden and Jackman are now developing partnerships in the education and health sectors to expand the app’s distribution, particularly in the £3 billion learning disability, supported living, and early-learning markets.
According to Peden, Insane Logic’s intentions are to break even. She also says that she is looking to the many opportunities for improvement in the health and education sectors. “We have much to build and achieve with MyChoicePad so it seems premature to focus too much on exit currently,” she explains. Peden adds that Insane Logic is looking to raise another round of funding early this year.