Children undergo 85% of their brain development before the age of five, but because we’re shifting to a digital-first society, much of that time is spent in front of screens. This year’s global pandemic has unfortunately accelerated this air time — kids are away from friends and structured play environments, and quarantining at home has created a surge in demand for kid-friendly apps.
When we were approached by the team at OK Play, we were inspired by their mission to encourage children’s social and emotional growth by inspiring kids and parents to play together. We led their initial seed round, and OK Play recently launched with $11M in funding from our team at Forerunner and a strong group of investors and individual investors, including Twitter’s Biz Stone, Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner, Headspace’s Rich Pierson, FabFitFun’s Michael and Daniel Broukhim, K5 Global’s Michael Kives, and more.
Encouraging social-emotional growth
Screen time is not inherently bad, but no one has taken the magic behind what made Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street work so well and reimagined it for a digitally-native world.
The OK Play app was built for young children and their parents and offers a wide range of free, daily activities that are fun, interactive, and designed to develop creativity, kindness, and empathy. With weekly updates and free, new activities, OK Play helps parents navigate the ups and downs of life by providing language to spark conversations around tough topics, which in turn encourages compassion and understanding in children.
Rooted in science
Research shows that having a solid foundation in social, emotional, and cognitive development during preschool years sets children up for later success in life.
Social skills help children navigate community situations, behavior from others, social problem solving, and positive interactions. Emotional skills allow children to express and regulate their feelings while cognitive skills underscore a child’s ability to think, focus, plan, and remember. Ok Play’s research-based curriculum was developed by world-class educators, children’s media, and technology experts, as well as top psychologists and experts in the fields of social and emotional development, led by Chief Scientist Dr. Colleen Russo Johnson.
The collective experience and talent from the co-founding team of JJ Aguhob, Chris Ovitz, Dr. Colleen Russo Johnson, Ken Chung, and Travis Chen is unparalleled. Chris previously co-founded Workpop, which was recently acquired by Cornerstone. Ken led development across Camera App and Lenses at Snap. JJ worked with exciting internet ventures including Headspace and TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. When they teamed up and added Colleen on the science side and Travis on the gaming side, the founding team went from amazing mobile-native generalists to a well-rounded team with specific domain experience, creating a great mixture of right brain and left brain intuition.
At Forerunner, we’re focused on understanding the struggles and dreams of consumers, and OK Play was built with the sole intention of helping parents connect better with their kids while developing social emotional learning skills. At a time when children need their parents more than ever, there are so many more challenges and distractions in the world; OK Play grows and evolves along with families, providing a safe space that kids and parents can share.