A Q&A with yummico co-founder Anthony Weintraub. The New York City–based company was founded in late 2011. It just launched its content platform to the public in late February.
SUB: Please describe yummico and your value proposition.
Weintraub: yummico makes multiplatform content for preschool-age kids that has a ‘double bottom line’—entertaining and also value added. We’re first and foremost story tellers and content creators, but also parents of young children who have found it difficult to find trustworthy, quality media channels for our kids, especially in the digital space. We want to provide that, while at the same time making a connection with parents—parents like us who are interested in what our kids are consuming and want to be part of the media equation.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Weintraub: Our audience is preschool aged kids and slightly older—so kids aged two-to-six. While we have data that suggests kids of this age are using smartphones and tablets in large numbers, we’re under no illusions in thinking that kids this age are buying our products. Rather, it’s the parents who are our primary customers—those who are ‘co-viewing’ and those who are handing their devices to their kids. It’s obvious that our PR and marketing dollars are aimed at them. But we’re not being mercenary when we say we want to be their ally—to be a trusted brand that they can depend on when they see our names on a product. By extension, we’re also aware that many parents nowadays are expert-averse—they don’t want to be talked down to by so-called experts, but they still need advice. We think we can fill that gap and offer simpler, more manageable parenting tools and strategies.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Weintraub: While there are several exciting new brands for kids that exist on single platforms—such as gaming—and also a number of wonderful new series released by the large conglomerates, we feel we are entering a fairly wide open space, a space hungry for new material and new creators. In some respect our competitors are the obvious—media companies like Disney and Nick Jr.—and yet we also see individual titles coming from boutique creators that might be more aligned with our content.
SUB: What differentiates yummico from the competition?
Weintraub: We think it’s our value proposition—that we’re parents of young children ourselves who are consumed by what we’re handing our kids when we hand them a digital device. So we’re serious about our curriculum but we also want our shows to pass the ‘smell test’: that they’re fun and sticky. Additionally, we think being lean is important—focusing on a select number of brands at one time, and being able to make the right decisions when it comes to the platforms each brand should live on.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Weintraub: We founded the company at the end of 2011. We developed several brands in concert, breaking out one with a few books, and the rest with bibles, characters, and strategic plans. Simultaneously, we looked to making a strategic partnership with an app company to develop our first game, which is where we put the bulk of our creative juices.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for yummico? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Weintraub: It was probably a mixture of the two. We had been talking about doing something together and then one of our partners, Caroline Baron, wrote a rhyming book about the perils of putting kids to sleep. She sent it to Traci [Paige Johnson], Traci asked if she could illustrate it, and we realized we had something. It was the synergy of the four of us initial founders that made us want to build this into something beyond just a great creative collaboration. We talked about building multiple brands, about our disappointment with children’s media in general, and the fact that we knew a lot of creators who felt the same way.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Weintraub: What is more timely then the word ‘yummy’? Simultaneously retro and modern, used today as much if not more than it was when we were kids, and meaningful. Who wouldn’t want something yummy?
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Weintraub: Early on, we faced some pushback from investors who were solely interested in investing in delivery platforms as opposed to investing in content. Like everything, it was just a slow burn, finding the right people who get it.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Weintraub: I think we’ve reached critical mass when it comes to the perception people have about big media and what they can accomplish being so big. In many ways they’ve lost their connection to their audience, and they also don’t seem to understand how to develop properties for the growing number of streams that are out there. We’re excited to add some great material to the marketplace right now, but we also want to innovate in the marketplace, to explore how content consumption is growing and changing amongst kids.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point? If so, how much have you raised?
Weintraub: We’ve raised some friends and family money, to finance our first app and to develop additional IP for future production. We are just now looking for outside funding for the next round of production.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Weintraub: Our digital model is direct-to-consumer based on paid apps. At the same time we are looking into partnerships with distribution companies, both on and offline, where it makes sense. We have also had conversations with licensing companies to begin exploring the use of our character lines in synergistic products such as toys and housewares.
SUB: What are your goals for yummico over the next year or so?
Weintraub: Our goal in the first year is to release three to five apps, which include both games and ebooks. We are continuing to develop and build out plans for three brands and will launch production on an episodic series by year’s end.
yummico – www.yummico.com