Tappity (YC S20) – Keeping kids entertained with science

Hey HN --

I’m Chad, and I co-founded Tappity (https://www.tappityapp.com) with my friend, Lawrence. We’re building a healthy alternative to Youtube that entertains and educates kids (4-10) with interactive lessons—starting with science!

Tappity’s story began ten years ago when I developed an app for my Biology professor to teach kids about evolution. It was my first time building a product for kids, so I learned a ton about designing for an audience who couldn’t read or sit still for very long. Also, their brutally honest feedback was refreshing! We ended up getting 20,000 downloads, and I learned kids love interactions. After that great experience, I continued to create apps for kids on the side for fun.

About two years ago, parents started paying for one of these apps. Kids loved a segment we had shot on a whim at our friend’s house, in which they could interact with a real live science teacher. Parents were excited, too. We gave them something engaging, fun, and educational for their kids, which is shockingly rare. The sad reality is that 99% of kids apps fall into three buckets: ad-riddled games, cheap & buggy ABC/123 apps, or YouTube. We wanted to do better. Shortly thereafter, Lawrence and I quit our jobs (where we had met) to start Tappity!

We leaned into this idea of live-like experiences. We felt it’d enrich screen time without sacrificing the fun. So, with Tappity, kids don’t just passively watch, they play along and direct our live-action characters on screen. For example, you could tell Haley—our version of Bill Nye—what she should do next in her science experiment, and she would actually do what you say. Unlike traditional TV programs or videos, where you know the person on screen is talking to a million other people, Tappity makes it feel like characters are interacting with just you in real time. Turns out, this format is super engaging. Best of all, kids don’t feel like they’re learning—they tell their parents they're hanging out with Haley!

So far, we’ve produced ~40 hours of original content, and we’re rapidly building out our library. While we shot much of our content initially with an iPhone in my garage, we’ve now graduated to filming with an actual crew at a studio in Los Angeles!

We're excited to share Tappity with the wider HN community, especially those of you with younger kids. With many families still spending a lot of time at home, we're hoping to make at-home learning a bit more fun and bearable. You can download it for free on the App Store [1]. Would love to hear what you think!

Chad, Lawrence, & Tanner

P.S. We also just launched the first online science fair for kids [2] hosted by Kari Byron from Mythbusters to encourage families to do more science experiments at home (and win prizes)! Check it out!

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tappity-interactive-stories/...

[2] https://www.juniorsciencefair.com

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