It’s a bit strange that I’ve picked another “kids targeted” startup from the second batch of startups as my favorite – kids are a notoriously difficult market to acquire online. But in the case of ToyBots, I believe they are targeting a fantastic opportunity. It is likely that connected toys will be the next generation in toys and I love their example of having grandma read a story to the grandkids through the toy.
I believe Webkinz laid out a good marketing roadmap for this type of startup. My kids couldn’t walk into a Justice (previously called Limited Too) without asking for another Webkinz. I didn’t mind buying a stuffed animal, but am a little more hesitant to offer the kids my credit card for online purchases. From a business perspective, I was intrigued when my kids ripped off the virtual currency and threw the toy into the corner – never to be played with again.
ToyBots can create a tighter link between toys and a web experience than Webkinz, but leverage the same types of marketing channels. My recommendation would be to link the licensing to the marketing opportunities. The toy makers already have great distribution, but very few subscription opportunities. ToyBots can improve the ongoing engagement with kids for each toy manufacturer – increasing monetization opportunities and possibly creating a direct customer acquisition opportunity for manufactures to cross promote new toys.
It’s difficult to know how much progress they’ve achieved, but announced partnerships suggest that this isn’t a half baked idea.