Sam is the co-founder, with her husband, of Braincandy, a company that produces digital products, including DVDs, to help kids learn, play and explore the world around them. She lives in Seattle, Washington and is a mom of six year-old twins: Blaise and Logan.
Sam gave up an impressive (and lucrative) career with Microsoft to start Braincandy with her husband and shares some great perspectives about how becoming an entrepreneur has led her to work more but find more balance in her life. She also talks candidly about working so closely with her husband, what advice has helped her overcome the uncertainty that comes with running your own business, and a trick she uses to get her kids out the door on time in the morning.
Name of your company: Braincandy
Industry: Media-Children’s Products/Consumer Retail
Date company was founded: Late 2004
Number of employees: 4 full time; several part time; many friends, helpers, volunteers
Total capital invested to date: $500k
2007 projected revenues: $1.5M
Can you tell us a bit about your company?
Braincandy is a world of live-action and animated digital content designed to model and provide opportunities for young children to creatively play, learn, and explore their world. Braincandy’s first series is designed for very young children ages 6 months to 4 years and focuses on children learning about themselves and the world through their five senses. Braincandy’s first DVD, “Braincandy, My 5 Senses” was the most award-winning developmental video in the children’s category with 12 industry awards of excellence.
What inspired you to start your business?
The market for children’s early learning products is cluttered with pressure-producing hype and overflowing with products that promise to make kids “smarter.” At the same time, being parents of young children we started seeing a wave of articles and books showing that parents are becoming overwhelmed by the pressure to ensure that their kids are exposed to the “right” activities, and losing sight of the fact that young children should have fun while learning about themselves and their surroundings.
As a mom of then 2-year-old twins, I was not immune to this pressure. One day while quizzing my daughter with flash cards we both became discouraged by her lack of ability to recognize the letter “Q.” When the tears of frustration started to flow I realized that I had managed to turn learning into her own personal failure. I’d turned the process of learning into something rote and traditional and had sucked the joy out of it. At that moment, my husband and I got together and became obsessed with the idea of creating early learning products for kids that put the fun back into parenting and early learning. We decided to create enriching digital content that would help our kids learn about the world and encourage their sense of self discovery while laying the foundation for not only cognitive learning but social and emotional development as well. That was how Braincandy was born.