One to Watch: TechSpaghetti
Leah Hinton, founder of TechSpaghetti, is a woman of many talents. Before launching the educational software studio behind the hit language app Hey Monster! English for Kids, she taught literacy and digital arts in schools for ten years in her native New Zealand and Europe, while touring with her rock band during the vacations. It was only when she invited fellow bandmate and IT whiz Elliot Tabachnik along to a screening event, to demonstrate the way she’d been integrating tech into classrooms, that they decided to go into business.
Leah Hinton, founder and CEO of TechSpaghetti | © Gordon Welters/laif
Hinton felt unable to achieve her vision – to use technology “to teach through story creation and music” – inside the education system, and so she and Tabachnik decided to go it alone. They bootstrapped for two years with seed funding from Axel Springer’s Plug and Play accelerator, and launched Hey Monster! English for Kids in August 2016, which has consistently been the No. 1 app in its category (6-8 age range) in 14 countries.
Their next launch, Coding the Musical, a musical app that teaches girls how to code, sits perfectly with Hinton’s personal mission to close the tech gender gap and to “make cutting edge education tools available to kids everywhere.” She believes that technology should be embedded throughout the curriculum to prepare kids for jobs that don’t exist yet. “Rather than teaching times tables, we should be teaching them how to learn and how to find new solutions to new problems,” she says. And with screens increasingly prevalent in the learning environment, “it is now more important to teach kids how to filter information, rather than learning by rote.”
Her plan from here on in is to launch an app every three months (using their proprietary app creation software that enables super-fast content creation and delivery) and to attain the ultimate goal of “becoming the No. 1 digital education provider for 4-10 year olds – globally.” It is a bold vision. Little wonder that these days Hinton sees herself primarily as “an entrepreneur”.