San Francisco-based Fingerprint Digital, a startup building educational apps for kids, is blowing up. The company released its first apps into iTunes on December 1st, and already, it has seen over 270,000 game playing sessions for a combined total of over 2 million minutes played. And, according to CEO Nancy MacIntyre, its apps are about to reach download numbers in the six figures.
In just two weeks, Fingerprint pushed two of its games into the top five in the educational apps’ category: Big Kid Life Firefighter and Big Kid Life Fairy Princess. (And yes, despite what those titles sound like, they are actually games for learning.)
The key to the startup’s early success is having an innovative twist on educational gaming combined with a solid team. Fingerprint was started by Nancy MacIntyre, formerly the EVP of Products and Marketing at LeapFrog, and Brad Edelman who co-founded social gaming company PlayFirst. It also has Heather Regan, the former COO of Everloop, as VP of Product Management and Learning. Former game marketing lead at 2K Games (a division of Take Two Interactive) Phil Shpilberg is on board as well, serving as VP of Marketing.
What’s great about what Fingerprint is doing is that it’s re-opening the lines of communication between parent and child – lines which are often shut down as the kid gets sucked deeper into the video gaming world. Not only are the company’s apps educational, they also feature a built in sharing platform (“Mom-Comm”) which allows kids to share their progress with their parents.
The grown-ups get to stay in the loop (for a change) with a news feed detailing their child’s progress and activity. In return, the parent can then provide encouragement and support through text and voice messages that are played directly in the game. Through this proprietary system, parents have received over 500,000 “snapshot” reports in December, the company says. And the kids are addicted, too: average gameplay sessions last 7.35 minutes and kids have returned to the games four times this month.
The company now has five apps: three “Big Kid Life” titles (Fire Fighter, Veterinarian, Fairy Princess), Play Maker and one third-party app Do Re Mi 1-2-3. They’re really well-made, quite cute and a lot of fun. You can check out the complete set here.
The third-party app is the first to use the Fingerprint SDK, which allows any title to integrate the parent-child communication system for free in exchange for revenue share with Fingerprint. The company says it will vet the titles first to make sure they have a strong educational foundation.
Fingerprint raised $1.4 million in funding earlier this fall, and says its goal is to build a large network with dozens of apps. It will release several new apps next quarter including one that they’re dubbing their “biggest product initiative” and an “all new app experience.”
Fingerprint is currently giving away its apps (typically $1.99-$2.99) for free, in conjunction with its Facebook promo.