The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Today's interview is with Alex Wolf, founder of the EdTech company, na2ure.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
I started my business, as many entrepreneurs do, because I wanted to solve a problem. My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter loved plants and animals, but I couldn’t find games and toys to help her learn more about them. As an artist and designer, I wanted visual shape, pattern, and structure toys and games for a preschooler that were accurate (not cartoony) and didn’t talk down to her. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I knew what these things should look like, how they should function, and that I had the skills to make them. So I got to work!
What do your kids think about your job?
My daughter loves having a mom who is an inventor, and part of that comes from my great desire to play with kids (especially my own!). My greatest joy was sitting on the floor with her for hours of open-ended play. I also curated toys and games that nurtured her skill for them. We continue to talk about which things we like, why, and what we can do to make them more fun. That said, she also thinks I work too hard and wants more time with me. She wants to travel together, see plants and animals—and create new games!
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
I missed my daughter’s 7th grade play this year by going out of town to the Chicago Toy Fair. I missed something else when I visited the White House with a group of women this fall. My daughter did say though that there would be another play etc,, not to worry, and she’s proud when I travel for work. I told this to the ladies I visited the White House with and they loved her for it immediately—half the reason we were there was to brainstorm role modeling for girls! So I’m partially off the hook, and she has a secret fan club of women in business. Still, I’m sad I missed the play. Not disappointing her is one thing, not being disappointed myself is another! The work-life balance is tough, and you have to prioritize back and forth, knowing which moments you will regret.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
Our company has managed to crack an enormous nut which no one else seems interested in or prepared to tackle: how do we un-complicate nature learning so people can connect the dots on what know with what they don’t in a fun way? We feel like we’ve created a game, and a platform that can do that, and deliver the fun to kids when they’re young, have a zillion questions, and are less intimidated by learning since they are naturally curious.
When people ask me “What’s a top moment in this 10-year journey?” it’s not the PhD’s telling you you’re doing great: it’s a four-year-old, who can’t read yet but can show me how to build a giraffe or a spider, with a few simple cards from a game I designed. And it shows her, and me, just how smart she already is.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
Some friends have posted Mamalode pieces to Facebook and I explored from there. I especially like the Starter Series. Hey, I’m an entrepreneuress! Box Play is my favorite since I love hacking with recycled/found objects.