By Roya Soleimani Winner, Sunstone Staff Writer
Augmented reality and virtual reality can create what amounts to magic for both adults and children – a reality Toly Sherbakov and Marianna Alpatova leaned on to create Magic Kids, a computer-based game platform designed to educate 4- to 8-year-olds.
Magic Kids started expanding almost the day it went live, with comprehensive and fun learning experiences across math, logic, reading, spelling, creativity, and even social intelligence. Thanks to the augmented reality component, youngsters can learn through interactive and engaging activities in their own physical environment.
Toly and Marianna met in 2015, and first launched an agency developing interactive products for clients and companies, including marketing and e-commerce brands, which included products for children as well. They saw first-hand how youngsters love engaging with interactive toys, and they initially had an idea to launch an ABC book that was an AR/VR experience. But at that time, they pivoted to an interactive furniture marketplace and AR experience. They say that even so, their dreams of building for children remained.
Toly is the co-founder and CEO of Magic Kids, and focuses on business development and partnerships. Marianna is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer/Developer, while also teaching computer science and AR/VR in a PhD program. Toly and Marianna created Magic Kids “through our fascination with augmented reality and the potential it has to help kids learn,” Toly said.
Through feedback from parents and their children, the technology and offerings evolved to help facilitate learning. For example, “voice recognition and pronunciation helps children learn a new language, or improve in their native language,” Marianna said. Toly added that in understanding their metrics and their users, they were able to learn and add “small details and tweaks, week-by-week,” improving the user experience.
Now they are looking to partner with teachers and educational institutions. That would continue to develop Magic Kids from a “technical, educational, and scientific background,” ensuring that they are providing tools that are aligned with US-educational standards for the age-groups they work with.
As part of the Lair East Labs (LEL) accelerator program’s summer 2023 cohort, Toly and Marianna say they’ve learned most about marketing and enjoyed meeting fellow founders and mentors. Sunstone Management, Inc., is the capital partner of the LEL program.
Moving forward, Magic Kids’ founders plans to expand offerings with the help of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. They will be able to further personalize mini-games and content based on children’s “hobbies, skillset, or educational interests,” Marianna said. They will soon be launching a teachers’ platform to create new games, she said.
Toly added that “everybody understands that kids love games. Any video games, they love them and are drawn in. With Magic Kids, we can convert screen time to learning time.”
For more about Magic Kids, including experiencing a demo, go to magickids.me.
Note: We refer to early-stage technology entrepreneurs as Founders. Information provided here is to inform about the types of small business start-ups that have been selected for participation in certain programs in which Sunstone participates. Information provided here is aspirational and there is no assurance of success. Early-stage investing comes with an inherently high degree of risk, including loss of some or all of an investment. The information provided is neither an offer to sell or an inducement to offer to buy interests in any Sunstone sponsored fund that may have invested in the Founder.
About Lair East Labs
Lair East Labs is a startup accelerator based in New York that empowers founders to expand internationally. In the first five years of operation, our portfolio companies have raised over $45 million in funding after completing the accelerator. Our program combines the best of two worlds – learn from alumni founders of top Silicon Valley-style accelerators and gain access to a network of mentors and investors with extensive experience navigating the U.S. and Asian markets. In 2019, Lair East Labs was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Accelerators Worldwide” by Crunchbase. www.laireastlabs.com.
About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. Ranked 18th in the United States on the list of most active venture capital firms by PitchBook.
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