PICCLES STORY

2 Minute Read

It all started in April 2016

When Chris Bent was offered a corporate sales job at a friends company who just raised $1M to scale he became for the first time an employee, not an entrepreneur.  And it was soul crushing.

He soon realized entrepreneurship had been scratching his creative itch, and with this gone, there was no outlet for creativity.

He wasn't an artist, musician or dancer, and doing any of those felt intimidating to start. "Was this just an inevitability of adulthood?" He wondered. After some research, the answer was no. A whopping 69% of adults reportedly felt they weren't living up to their creative potential. 

Hours in the shower, notes and brainstorms later, ideas converged in the form of a Collaborative Coloring Book. 

He set out building a prototype on iOS, and 16 months and two developers later (one of which for 15 months ?) Piccles was launched.

But there was a problem...

Where are the other people with this problem?

To find out, he packed up the car and made his first trip to UMass Amherst to speak with students in the business school.

After presenting the business to 450 students in Professor Glennon's Master Marketing Class, we shared our thoughts on potential target markets, and let students set out to do their own market research.

After reading 1600 pages of case studies and analyzing the data, it was clear who we should go after... Children's Hospitals!


So we did!

Positioned as a platform for distractive entertainment,  kids could feel a sense of connection and community while bored and isolated in their hospital rooms.

At least that's what we hoped for. It was a challenge to get our foot in the door, but by walking in, knocking on doors and relentless follow up, we launched our first pilot project at Montreal Children's Hospital. 

The kids loved it, the hospital staff...not so much ?

We were in the oncology unit so a nurse had to scrub each time they interacted with a kiddo, and the effort it took to introduce the activity was more than the busy nurses had. 

Inconsistent Wifi, lack of funding, and tons of red tape made market penetration look insurmountable to this bootstrapped startup, so we had to change focus or risk running out of money.

That is when we went BACK to UMass to share these new insights and see if they could find a path of less resistance.


And that's where you came in!

Students this semester focused on professions that have to engage and communicate with large numbers of stakeholders. The primary industries these fell under were: