If the car-crash Facebook IPO has sent VCs running scared and accelerators issuing warnings to their young charges then perhaps it’s time to just break out the crowd-funding campaign? Plenty of startups seem to be doing it these days, but not many get their nine-year-old daughter to front a video on their Kickstarter campaign.
Founder and CEO of Pora Ora Neil Gallagher – who put his daughter up to it – tells me he thinks the startup will “end up doing a VC round” as a result of their Kickstarter campaign. That’s clearly not guaranteed, but the campaign is having a dual effect. “We’re adding about 3,000 new users a week whether people on Kickstarter financially back us or not.” Could Kickstarter be the new marketing platform?
An educational 3D virtual online universe aimed at 5-12 year-olds, Pora Ora already has 25,000 users so it’s not as if it’s starting from scratch. And although they are asking for $100,000 (and have reached $18,109 after a few days) the Kickstarter campaign effect on the userbase is worth the risk of not raising the cash.
However, Gallagher is still aiming to raise a VC round to develop more gaming features and apps including a coding game and tools to enable children to create their own worlds.
Created by holding company Caped Koala Studios, Pora Ora features games, puzzles and quests geared to a global school curriculum. Children learn through their avatar whilst exploring the worlds of Pora Ora alongside their Pora Pal (virtual pet) who needs wisdom, creativity and exploration points to keep them healthy and happy.
And in contrast to the issues recently experienced by Habbo Hotel, the game has strong security settings where children must complete an eSafety quest and gain parental permission to access the interactive features. Pora Ora can also be set to “school mode”, which lets teachers use the game in the classroom. Teachers and parents can then control the safety features, track the child’s progress and offer in-game rewards through the parental controls.