Developer Insight

Originator

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Originator was formed by five parents passionate about creating quality educational apps for young children. Founders Joe Ghazal and Rex Ishibashi share their approach to building a sustainable business in the Kids category, and the unexpected challenges and rewards they encountered along the way.

Building a Business in the Kids Category

The team at Originator creates apps with the understanding that even very young children recognize and appreciate quality. With the Endless series of apps, much of the team’s effort goes into striking the right balance between education and entertainment.

“We really have two audiences. You’ve got the parents, who are going to be the ones that choose to download the app. And they're looking for high educational value,” says Joe Ghazal, COO at Originator. “And then you've got the kids, and they're all about having fun, they're looking for that delight. Designing an experience that satisfies both of those audiences is very challenging. It's a lot harder than it looks.”

Originator’s first app, Endless Alphabet, launched as a free app — a deliberate choice to reach a broad audience and get the word out among parents and educators. “From there, word of mouth really spread the word of Endless,” says Rex Ishibashi, CEO at Originator. “At a certain point, we reached a critical mass where parents were actually asking when the next Endless app was coming out.”

Since then, Originator has explored several business models, including paid, freemium, and auto-renewable subscription.

Ghazal says that the paid model resonates with parents who prefer to pay upfront to enjoy the whole experience, and enables Originator to offer app bundles to those who might enjoy other apps in the Endless series.

Freemium, currently Originator’s most successful model, allows users to try the app experience before making a purchasing decision, and helps Originator to scale its content gradually. “It allows us to start small, put out an app that has a small amount of content in it, sell that as an in-app purchase, and then add more modules as customers want," says Ghazal.

The auto-renewable subscription model used in Originator’s newest app, the Endless Learning Academy, appeals to users who want access to Originator's extensive library of content and activities at a low monthly fee.

“The biggest takeaway for us is that there's not a one-size-fits-all,” says Ghazal. “You have to be willing to be flexible to meet the needs of the customers and the users.”

Ishibashi says that, ultimately, the success of the Endless apps has been driven by the company’s passion to deliver the best app experience possible. “It’s one thing for a child to be quietly playing with an app. It's a whole different thing and dimension if the parent notices that a child is, for the first time, recognizing letters. Being able to spell. Being able to use those words in proper context. That's priceless.”

Read more about Using the Freemium Business Model

Learn more about Offering Subscriptions

The biggest takeaway for us is that there's not a one-size-fits-all. You have to be willing to be flexible to meet the needs of the customers and the users.

Joe Ghazal, COO at Originator