Father playing with colorful kids' toys with his child.
With students being forced into remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, learning app Lingokids aimed to create new and engaging ways to help kids learn through technology. — Lingokids

How 3 startups leveraged pandemic-driven lessons to grow business:

  • Lingokids expanded its content and added social-skill development in response to the increase in remote schooling.
  • Filteroff created opportunities for singles to connect online using a video platform at a time when consumers were often isolated.
  • Frameable is creating an immersive and interactive virtual office platform that seeks to take advantage of the shift toward more remote work.

The COVID-19 pandemic created hardships for many businesses, but it also revealed opportunities for new areas of focus as consumers embraced digital technologies for work, school, and social activities.

CO— spoke with top executives at three experience-driven companies — children’s learning app Lingokids, video speed-dating app Filteroff, and remote-work tech provider Frameable — that are leveraging these opportunities to grow their companies in new ways.

Lingokids: Tripling its user base by creating ‘new and engaging ways to help kids learn through technology’

Cristobal Viedma, CEO

Technology has become even more essential after the pandemic, especially in the ed-tech space. At the end of the 2020/2021 school year, [the children’s learning app] surveyed parents and found that 70% of parents relied on early learning apps to help their children keep up in school, in large part due to remote learning. With parents relying on learning apps like Lingokids, we felt a strong obligation to expand as much as we could internationally and create new and engaging ways to help kids learn through technology. With those things in mind, we decided to double down on our content offerings during the pandemic to keep up with the demand from our families.

We needed to build out a more robust platform, while continuing to constantly create high quality content in the form of games, videos, podcasts, and songs. In the summer of 2021, we decided to fuel this innovation by raising $40 million from leading investors like GP Bullhound, HV Capital, and Ravensburger, among others.

I’m very happy to share that Lingokids has tripled its number of users since the beginning of the pandemic. Now with 40 million families in 190 countries experiencing the benefits of Lingokids, we continue to be laser-focused on constantly innovating and creating new and engaging ways to help kids learn through play.

We believe that technology should connect offline and online experiences, and so we are mindful to encourage kids to take the lessons they learn in-app and bring them out into the real world to ask questions and more deeply explore what we’ve taught them.

Cristobal Viedma, CEO, Lingokids

The trust and credibility we built with parents during the pandemic has been invaluable. While children think they are just playing fun games with engaging and cute characters, their parents know they are learning high quality STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] and social-emotional skills that will last their entire lives. And this trust has led to great word-of-mouth referrals for us, which has helped immensely as we have focused on our international expansion.

During the pandemic, we surveyed parents and found that 86% believe their child has missed out on learning social-emotional skills due to remote learning. With that in mind, we created new activities that foster skills like emotional intelligence, empathy, and critical thinking. Kids are now not just learning spelling and counting in Lingokids, but about how to be kinder to those around them.

We also saw how so many children were stuck at home during the pandemic and wanted to help encourage them to be more active and creative in their home environments. In 2021 we introduced ‘Curiosity Videos,’ which encourage project-based learning, helping kids to go deep into a particular topic like health, weather, earth science and more. These videos are often supplemented with in-game content to help cement the concept in a child’s mind through play. We believe that technology should connect offline and online experiences, and so we are mindful to encourage kids to take the lessons they learn in-app and bring them out into the real world to ask questions and more deeply explore what we’ve taught them.

 Three screenshots showing Filteroff's virtual speed-dating platform.
Filteroff, a free app where users can sign up for virtual speed-dating events, aims to bring back the human element to online dating. — Filteroff

Filteroff: Raised $2.4 million in funding by answering ‘the desire from singles to bring back the human element to online dating’

Zach Schleien, Co-Founder and CEO

We built [speed dating app] Filteroff to facilitate authentic connections for singles. We believe in dating people, not profiles. When the pandemic hit the United States, people felt extremely disconnected. They turned to FaceTime and Zoom. This was an opportunity for Filteroff to help singles around the country and provide connection.

Filteroff is a free iOS, Android, and web application. Singles can sign up and RSVP to a particular virtual speed-dating event that interests them. They can then go on up to 10 virtual speed dates, three minutes each. If they're a match, they can then message or video chat for as long as they'd like.

Filteroff raised $2.4 million in October 2021 from a Fortune 500 company, allowing them to expand their team and marketing efforts. To date, Filteroff has hosted over 13,000 virtual speed-dating events and now offers in-person singles events as well.

Filteroff will be known as the dating app that offers human connection, providing a video-first experience. We have seen a desire from singles to bring back the human element to online dating. On Filteroff, you can meet like-minded singles by attending a variety of our themed and city-based speed dating events.

 Screens showing virtual offices in Rehive by Frameable.
Remote-work tech platform Frameable created Rehive.tv, a virtual space that functions like an office, allowing workers to work privately or collaboratively. — Frameable

Frameable: Landing small businesses to S&P 500 companies as clients with work-from-home tech that’s the ‘virtual equivalent of your office’

Adam Riggs, founder and CEO

[At remote-work tech platform Frameable], our event business at Socialhour.com [which hosts virtual conferences, trade shows and galas] has taken off during the pandemic, and it has been a big part of our business the last couple of years.

The other product we have that is closely related is called Rehive.tv. It’s a virtual equivalent of your office — a virtual space that allows you to work alone or collaborate with others.

There are a lot of unscheduled interactions that are part of being in a physical office, and Rehive enables that. Basically, each room is a video meeting room. People can signal that they are present, what they are working on, and if they are available. In some rooms, people are working together. There’s a lot of information you can take in with more visual cues.

We built this product to help ourselves work during this difficult period. We went 100% remote, and we realized that our event product had a core set of ingredients for a persistent space. [A persistent space in the workplace refers to a set of digital tools that remain accessible and consistently organized over time, such as chat sessions or a space to share files.]

We are making improvements almost every day. If you are an attendee at a virtual event, the design doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it is your virtual space that you work in every day, you will not be as tolerant.

There are a mix of companies [that are currently testing Rehive]. Some are S&P 500 companies, and there are some small teams using it.

We think there’s a whole swath of versions of persistent virtual spaces that could change what it means to work remotely in the future. A lot of companies are looking at remote work and what it means for recruiting, and for retention, and for sustainability. The only options available to them today are remote work with meeting software or forcing people to commute.

People get tired of meeting software. It serves its purpose, but there are also a lot of things it can’t do. Our persistent virtual space has a high correlation with familiar physical office cues. We are creating this based on what a fulfilling and remote working space looks like.

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Published June 22, 2022