In today’s edition of the daily head-scratcher: A fluffy, talkative stuffed animal creature with a funny-sounding name has gone from startup accelerator to Apple’s shelves in just over a year.
The Ubooly is a stuffed creature that has a sleeve to hold either an iPhone or an iPad mini. With the Ubooly downloadable application, the creature, which comes in a variety of bright, kid-friendly colors, talks to kids and directs them to play games and go on imagined adventures.
Last week, the Ubooly toy hit Apple stores in Japan and Europe. Yesterday, it hit Toys R Us stores in Japan.
This foreign expansion comes on the heels of the toy’s second Kickstarter campaign, which closed at the end of October raised more than $51,000, twice the goal of $25,000. Its first Kickstarter campaign raised half that last year.
But that’s chump change compared to the $2.5 million that Ubooly has raised in venture capital investments, led by Japanese investor SoftTech VC, Silicon Valley-based Translink Capital, and early-stage seed investor 500 Startups.
One reason Boulder, Colo.-based Ubooly was able to get on the shelves of prime retailers in Japan is because of the connections provided from Japan-based investment firm SoftTech VC.
Carly Gloge, a Canadian website and application design professional and the co-founder of Ubooly, got her sea legs with the toy at the famous TechStars accelerator program in Boulder in the summer of 2012.
The Ubooly team picked the quirky name because of numerous studies showing that sounds like “ooh” and “aah” are soothing. They brainstormed 20 various combinations and then tested the names on parents and kids. The combination that creates “Ubooly” was the crowd favorite, by leaps and bounds.
The app for the Ubooly is free and available on the Apple iTunes store. The toy itself costs $29.95. Additional packs of applications not available on the free download go for $3 each.