Tuesday, July 05, 2022

HoloToyz Unveils ‘Paw-some’ New PAW Patrol AR stickers and Tattoos

The HoloToyz X Paw Patrol range includes packs of Stickers and Temporary Tattoos with characters that come to life using the kid-safe HoloToyz app.

Irish fun-tech toy company HoloToyz has unveiled what it believes to be the world’s first range of Paw Patrol Stickers and Temporary Tattoos that come to life through the magic of Augmented Reality (AR).

“To date, our favourite 3D characters have lived on the big screen,” commented Kate Scott, co-founder & CEO, HoloToyz. “Now, our partnership with Paw Patrol gives children the opportunity to bring their favourite characters to life in their homes in a way that has never been done before.”

The HoloToyz X Paw Patrol range includes packs of Stickers and Temporary Tattoos. Each pack includes 10 characters that come to life using the kid-safe HoloToyz app. The HoloToyz app is free to download and doesn’t require registration, while there’s also no in-app advertising and no in-app purchases are required.

Declan Fahy, co-founder & sales director, HoloToyz, explained: “In the past, downloading apps has been perceived as a barrier to the user experience. What sets us apart is that our HoloToyz app works across our entire product range, eliminating the need to download several applications for different products. The user experience is extremely easy. We wanted to create an experience that was equal to – if not better – than the speed and performance of social apps available today. Simplicity really is key.”

Kate added: “It’s worth noting that one of the main reasons HoloToyz was founded is because we have seen an upsurge in the use of social media by children across the globe. Children clearly love playing with AR filters and effects, but social media platforms can be a dangerous place for them to do so. They are only a swipe away from content that is inappropriate for their age.”

Each interactive character performs a unique motion that’s fully loaded with sound to add to the immersive experience. Once the character is placed in the room, children can take photos and videos with their heroes as if they were standing right beside them and share these with friends and family.

The company recently enjoyed a very succesful London Toy Fair, where it was the recipient of an Editors’ Choice Award.

HoloToyz has also just revealed that it is developing a line of Paw Patrol wall decals and books, which will be released later this year.

To find out more about HoloToyz, click here.

For wholesale and distribution enquiries, contact the HoloToyz team at sales@holotoyz.com or call +353868600252.

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HoloToyz: Rebooting augmented reality for Generation Alpha

Fresh from a €1m Series A, HoloToyz is taking the lead from Tim Cook and going all in on AR for the next generation of children’s toys.

The founders of HoloToyz know they are trying where others have failed.

“AR [augmented reality] has previously been tried in the toy industry, but the timing was not right for a number of reasons and the user experience was poor,” said CEO Kate Scott.

Future Human

“Fortunately for us, we were able to learn from those who have tried this in the past and we are bringing a much higher standard of quality and user experience to market at the right time.”

That time, for founders Scott, Declan Fahy and Paul Cosgrave, was 2020 – an interesting time for anyone to start a business.

Luckily, the HoloToyz team were able to use the transformation of business brought on by the pandemic to their advantage. The pivot to digital meetings lowered the bar for emerging start-ups to access the world stage.

“[It] helped us to meet people across the globe without the associated travel costs and ‘dead’ time,” said Scott. “It has also made it easier to secure meetings with the larger companies that might not have had the time or slots at busy trade shows.”

The Nuremberg International Toy Fair, or Spielwarenmesse, for example, is the world’s largest toy fair hosting trade visitors, journalists and selected guests at a multi-day event.

Scott, Fahy and Cosgrave litmus-tested HoloToyz at the event in early 2020 and were so pleased with the results they decided to pack in their day jobs and focus 100pc on the new start-up. But by the time the 2021 event came around, the world of events had changed and HoloToyz had to present its product virtually.

“Nickelodeon contacted us after seeing our live presentation on Spielwarenmesse’s Instagram account,” recalled Scott. The pandemic was not going to stop this start-up in its tracks.

HoloToyz partnered with Nickelodeon and is preparing to launch a range of tattoos, stickers and books for the popular Paw Patrol series in the coming months.

The company has also started discussions with Sega to create a Sonic the Hedgehog range this summer, in time to ride the wave of popularity the ’90s gaming character is experiencing via a cinematic reboot.

‘We founded HoloToyz with our parent hats on’

HoloToyz’s physical products pair with a “kid-safe app” to bring 2D characters and creatures to life in 3D augmented reality.

“By finding the right balance between digital and physical play, we are introducing exciting new technologies to young children in a safe environment, without forgetting the centrality of the user experience,” said Scott.

The goal, she added, is to “create and own an AR category” that is internationally known. “We believe we have what it takes to become the number-one loved and trusted fun-tech toy that bridges the gap between physical and digital play.”

Balancing physical and digital play while ensuring a healthy relationship with technology is top of mind for the HoloToyz team.

“We founded HoloToyz with our parent hats on and we have seen first-hand how much fun our children have playing with the AR filters on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, etc. However, these are not safe platforms for children as they are only a swipe away from content that is simply inappropriate for their age,” explained Scott.

“A quick scan of the app stores will show you just how many apps are available for children aged three and up. However, this is offering a digital-only experience and most applications either charge you to download, include in-app purchases or bombard your child with in-app advertising.”

Targeted advertising for children is something that will be stopped in the EU in the near future, if the European Commission has anything to do with it, but there are still many issues to address when it comes to children and technology.

It’s of particular concern when it comes to Generation Alpha, the demographic coming up after Gen Z, in a tech-saturated world we have yet to succeed in regulating effectively.

“We are targeting millennial parents and Generation Alpha,” Scott explained. “Millennial parents have grown up in an age of digital revolution and are the first to experience social media and emerging technologies. As parents, they are not afraid to share and enjoy digital experiences with their children and they recognise this is the world their children will grow up in.

“They are also the first generation that has come to expect a more intimate relationship with brands and so expect a higher level of honesty, transparency and quality from brands, particularly those they are purchasing for their children.”

Scott also noted how these new parents value toys that tap into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and that Generation Alpha stands to gain from this exposure at a young age.

“It is estimated that by the time they are eight years old, they will surpass their parents in technology skills. They will never know a world without the internet of things, smart technology and virtual reality,” she said.

‘We are targeting millennial parents and Generation Alpha’

Scott and co are not alone in pitching augmented reality as the next big thing. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that AR will “pervade our entire lives”. This is helped by the fact that today’s smart devices are often already equipped with the sensors needed to create AR experiences. HoloToyz’s success hinges on connecting to these devices.

“HoloToyz is operating in the connected toy market. The product spectrum of this market is segmented into smartphone-connected devices, app-connected drones, console-connected toys and tablet-connected toys,” said Scott.

“In 2021, the size of the global toy market was $93bn. The global connected toy market size is expected to grow from $7.6bn in 2020 to $18.9bn by 2027.”

It’s a huge opportunity for the small but growing team based in Tara, Co Meath.

“Our team are veterans of the tech and gaming industry for over 40 years and help us to ensure the quality of animations and technology used in creating HoloToyz is unparalleled,” said Scott.

She herself has a background in communications and marketing, including roles at Independent News & Media (now part of Mediahuis) and Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive.

Sales director Fahy was also at INM and this is his second company with Cosgrave, with whom he co-founded Bash Products. Bash saw success in bringing its version of the famous red Solo cup to Ireland and has since branched out to a wider range of partyware.

HoloToyz, meanwhile, has added a global sales manager, product developer, “industry-specific” financial consultant and business adviser to the its team, and partnered with a creative team that specialises in the toy sector. The company’s tech partners are also shareholders in the business.

The first HoloToyz products hit the market in December 2020 and they are currently available in more than 14 countries.

2022 continues to hit high notes for HoloToyz, starting with a silver award in the editor’s choice category at the London Toy Fair. This was followed by an appearance at Enterprise Ireland’s Start-up Showcase. HoloToyz has been identified by Enterprise Ireland as a high-potential start-up and has just completed a €1m Series A round from the State agency and other investors.

“Our focus for the coming months is to launch our licensed products to market and work on growing our footprint globally,” said Scott.


Irish toy company HoloToyz raises €1m in funding

Firm plans to expand its team to support global expansion

Irish toy company HoloToyz has raised €1 million in funding as it plans to hire new staff to support its expansion in the global market.

The company, which makes interactive toys for children in the three to 10 age group, is planning to expand its team, hiring staff in administrative roles, sales, marketing and technology, joining experts it has contracted to work on international sales, product design and engineering and finance.

The latest funding round was led by Irish tech veteran John Herlihy and Molten Ventures’ Brian Caulfield, who were early investors in the company.

Other backers in the round include Shipyard Technologies chief executive Garry Lyons, Movidius cofounder Sean Mitchell and MongoDB’s Shalena O’Connell, along with a number of investors through the HBAN Angels network. The company has also been backed by Enterprise Ireland through its High Potential Start-up programme.

“The first thing we’re going to be doing is hiring Irish-based people to be able to help grow this both from an admin perspective because that takes a lot of the heavy weight and heavy duty away from Kate and I, but also in sales and marketing as well,” said cofounder Declan Scott.

“The second is going to be development of new products. In toys it’s really important that every season you innovate, but also refresh your brand. So developing new products, but also working more along the lines of core toy products.”

The company was founded by husband-and-wife team Declan and Kate Scott with business partner Paul Cosgrave, and its platform uses augmented reality to create interactive experiences for children.

The product range includes books, wall decals, tattoos and stickers with everything from monster trucks and dinosaurs to pets and unicorns that come to life through the use of a smartphone or tablet app.

The company has also signed a deal with Nickelodeon that will see interactive products featuring the Paw Patrol characters launched later this month.

The company is also planning to develop its line of toys further, with new products set to launch in the coming months.

“The reason that we set up this business was to marry the physical product with digital play,” Ms Scott said. “Kids today love technology, but we don’t want them to lose touch with physical.”

“There’s a lot of research to show, psychologically, the importance of cognitive development with cause and effect toys like Lego building and creating art activity. So we’re bringing our more creative thinking into that to create more hardline creative products like sticker makers and badge makers.”

Getting the right mix of investors is crucial to HoloToyz’s growth plans in the coming months.

“We had a few angel groups that were interested in investing and we handpicked the ones that we felt were right,” Ms Scott said. “We have a good, smart group involved. They all have relevant experience in scaling businesses, but also from a tech point of view.”


Originally published: March 14, 2022.

Original source: Toy World Magazine.

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