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Starter Studio Series: Joicaster

Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden, co-founders of TROBO, drew their inspiration for the company from a moment with which we are all very familiar:

That moment when you hear a problem described on a nightly newscast and think to yourself,
“Seriously? Why isn’t anyone doing something about this?”

For Jeremy Scheinberg, that moment came after he saw a news report about the dismal state of STEM education and about children’s overall declining interest in STEM fields. When he started to think to himself, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything…”, he realized that this problem, unlike many of the others he noticed while watching the news, was a problem that he could actually attempt to solve.

It was this realization that led Jeremy and Chris to invent “TROBO,” a product that uses both a storytelling app and a plush toy to help young children get interested in STEM. The TROBO plush toy is a storytelling robot that actually “reads” a story to children and the story app puts children into an adventure with TROBO by illustrating the story’s pages with their picture and by mentioning their name throughout the story.

Jeremy formed a team with Chris during a Startup Weekend last November, and they took second place at the competition. At the time, Jeremy and Chris still had full-time jobs and they weren’t sure that they would “take the leap” to seriously develop TROBO. Their experience with their own children, however, convinced them that TROBO presented an opportunity that was too promising to pass up.

In Jeremy’s words, “Chris and I came to the realization that our kids are learning all of the time – whether they are reading a book or smashing two toy cars together. As parents, we want our kids to have fun and learn but we saw a missed opportunity to educate kids while they have fun and to teach them about the world around them through storytelling.”

Since Jeremy and Chris decided to seriously pursue TROBO, they’ve built a prototype plush toy and app (you can check out a demo here). The feedback on these prototypes, moreover, has been positive. Their children love to play with TROBO, and Jeremy’s six year old daughter often recommends new stories for TROBO to tell.

Currently, Jeremy and Chris are working on securing grant funding, preparing a marketing plan, and organizing a crowdfunding campaign. As Starter Studio participants, they are also working on their presentation for demo day, but they aren’t quite sure what they’ll be presenting yet.

Although I don’t know what they’ll be presenting on demo day, I’m excited to see what they come up with. I’m willing to bet that when two fathers decide to tackle a problem that affects their own children, they are going to come up with an excellent solution- a solution fueled both by their passion for their kids and the insight they’ve gained from being fathers.
So, the next time you see a news report on the dismal state of STEM education for children, you won’t need to ask,

“Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?”

Instead, you’ll know: TROBO, Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden, are doing something to fix STEM education and you can help by joining their email list and supporting their upcoming crowdfunding campaign.

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