Rising StarOEN Member Spotlight – Scotty Iseri, Founder of The FUNDA Organization

Founded by native Oregonian and entrepreneur, Scotty Iseri, The FUNDA Organization helps make kids love learning, and gives parents tools to truly engage with their kids education. Its website, WatchtheDigits.com, is a live action narrative comedy that uses interactive gameplay to introduce math concepts to children.

Q: What problem does your company solve?
A: Busy parents get disconnected from their children’s education as the children enter older elementary grades. Most educational software and tools are focused on Pre-K or secondary school. However, the older elementary and middle school ages are critical for a child’s development. Meanwhile, most educational games focus on isolated skills, do not incorporate a proven curriculum and do not include teachers or curriculum designers in their development. The market is crowded by digital flash cards.

Q: How did you come up with this business idea?
A: There’s a big hole in the marketplace for quality content for older kids: specifically when kids are too old for Sesame Street. I have 9 nieces and nephews, and seeing the way that they play with their devices made me want to create something for that would fill this need. Meanwhile, as the media landscape expands to tablets, phones, Youtube and more, it’s increasingly harder for parents to keep track of what their kids are watching and learning.

Q: What are your biggest challenges?
A: As with any new product, getting the word out has been a major challenge. Kids seem to really love our products, but parents are the ones who make the purchasing decisions. We’ve been solving that with some great distribution partnerships and by adding some new features to our app that make it easier to share.

Q: What are your goals for the company?
A: We have some pretty big ambitions; around the office we like to say we’ll either get bought by Disney or become Disney. Our chief goal is to build something kids love and parents trust. We want to do well by doing good.

Q: Do you have any news to share about your company’s evolution, new products or partnerships?
A: It’s been an amazing month for us. We were invited to pitch at the Southern Oregon Angel Conference, and have entered into new partnerships with Skype and PBS.

Q: Are you looking for funding?
A: We’re currently raising our second round for our next round of products. It’s an ambitious raise, and so we’re also chatting with investors about some “milestone money” to hit the next set of goals. I can say that I’m always happy to do a tour of the set if any Oregon based investors would like to see our spaceship.

?Q: Have you been an entrepreneur before?
A: I’ve worked for myself for most of my career, from children’s theatre, to public media and producing web series. So I’m no stranger to long hours and building something from scratch. This company is an extension of the work I’ve been doing for the past 15 years.

Q: What brought you to OEN?
A: I’m Oregon born and bred…a graduate of Ontario High School and Willamette University. I’m proud to be an Oregon startup and wanted to meet more of the entrepreneurs in the community here.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
A: I’ve been very surprised, and very grateful, at the amount of feedback that we get from parents and teachers. It started with our QA testers who were very generous with their time, and really helped us refine the product. Once we released we still get feedback from parents: the compliments are great, but the complaints have also been very constructive.

Q: What has been the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve received?
A: Fail fast, fail often, and then FIX IT. And make sure you get some sleep.

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