Connect with us


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 such as HoloToyz 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 six-day event.

Scott, Fahy and Cosgrave litmus tested HoloToyz at the 2020 event 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 their 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, according to Scott, is to “create and own an AR category” that is internationally known.

“We believe we have what it takes to become the No 1 loved and trusted fun-tech toy that bridges the gap between physical and digital play,” she said.

The balance between 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 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 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.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Source link


Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

Continue Reading


European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Darren Wilson, Team

— Contact us:

— Anonymous submissions:

Continue Reading


China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!