Serial games entrepreneur and sometimes angel investor Dylan Collins has a new project, which he no doubt describes as “awesome”. Aiming to help solve the discovery problem faced by physical and digital products targeting the fickle market that is kids, the aptly named Box Of Awesome is like a free Birchbox for 13-14 year-old children, stuffed with games, music, books, and other kid-friendly stuff. The draw for brands who pay for space in each bi-monthly box is the opportunity to be discovered by influencers in that hard to reach demographic.
To that end, I’m told that the startup has already amassed 30,000+ subscribers in the UK, where it is initially launching, and will begin sending out the first Boxes Of Awesome at the end of this month.
The idea for the service was born out of Collins’ experience in the games industry and most recently as Chairman of boys online game Fight My Monster. He realised that the challenge of targeting 13-14 year-old kids isn’t just creating content that resonates with them (before they move on to the next cool thing), but actually getting their attention in the first place. It’s a familiar problem faced by products in many markets: the barriers of distribution are much lower online, but discovery is now a lot harder as supply beats demand.
One way to think about how Box Of Awesome is tackling this problem is akin to ‘give aways’ found on the covers of children’s magazines. And in fact, the scale that the company is gunning for in the UK is at least on par with that model, which it is directly competing with.
In order to maintain the element of surprise — in a call with Collins my reaction to his pitch was to describe the concept as “like Christmas every other month” — the company is remaining tight-lipped about what exactly is in its first box. When pressed, however, Collins had this to say: “We’ve got a range of brands, so quite a bit of variety across the boxes, including major book publishers, collectibles (cards and figures), two music labels, two games publishers and one clothing company. And it’s not just about big brands. What’s really cool is that we’re also bringing two completely new companies to our community in the first box.”
In other words, should Box Of Awesome pan out, it could potentially be a way for startups to not only use the service to help launch, but also to piggyback the bigger brands that make up the majority of the box and provide the pull to get kids interested in the first place. Presuming, of course, that the expense isn’t too prohibitive; currently it’s the brands that pick up the tab, though it’s conceivable that if there is enough demand a paid-for subscription model could be adopted to help soften this.
“Fundamentally, we’re curating a collection of genuinely awesome products for our community so it’s a great way of mixing established and new”, adds Collins.
Alongside Collins, who is funding the startup via his private equity vehicle OMAC Investments, Box Of Awesome is co-founded by Nic Mitham, a virtual worlds marketing consultant.
Prior to Box Of Awesome, Collins has founded and sold three companies: Jolt Online Gaming (acquired by GameStop), DemonWare (acquired by Activision Blizzard), and mobile messaging company Phorest (acquired by MBO).