It all began in 2015...
My co-founder Filip and I were talking about the challenges of modern parenting. We both had nagging concerns around the effects of excess screen time for young children, with potential negatives around sleep disruption, fine motor control development and addictiveness of screens making us think twice about putting our kids in front of a screen.
Having enrolled my children at a Montessori nursery, I was also fascinated by the teachings of Maria Montessori. She believed (amongst other things) that child development was improved through allowing children certain levels of independence, and to place emphasis on using physical objects in learning and play.
Despite all of this, we’re actually both technophiles and big believers in the power of the internet and tech as a force for good. Screens aren’t always bad! Also, having met whilst working together in the digital music world, we really wanted to give our kids easy access to music and other audio content.
So we came up with the idea of a connected, screen-free audio device that kids could be fully in control of using physical smartcards. With no experience in hardware, electronics or industrial design, but liking the idea of a challenge, we got to work prototyping a basic device and started testing with our own families and friends.
Tom, an award-winning industrial designer, joined the team in 2016 and helped develop our hacked-together prototype into an actual product we could release. With a more stable concept in hand, we launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Yoto Player in November 2017 and achieved full backing in a few days. Most of 2018 was spent producing and fulfilling the first-generation Yoto Player with help from our manufacturing partner based in Sheffield, UK. But we always knew this wasn’t the end goal. While we were selling Yoto Player to customers - selling out for the final time in August 2019 - we were busy designing a new version based on feedback and learnings from our initial product.
Not only does new Yoto Player boast improved design, it also has added functionality including integrated battery, stereo sound, Bluetooth connectivity and three different play modes. This is complemented by an ever-growing library of content featuring some of the very best children’s audio from authors such as Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and Judith Kerr plus a selection of music, podcasts, radio and more.
And this isn’t the end of our journey. We’re continuing our mission to help parents inspire creativity and imagination in children through audio...and of course, keeping the little nippers away from screens.
We look forward to welcoming you on this journey with us.
We’ve had a lot of help along the way. Thank you to:
Pentagram Design, Emerge, Luke Kelly, Gideon Simeloff & everyone at the Roald Dahl Story Company, Paul Smith, Anthony Ackenhoff, Bart and Alex at Objekt, Jon, Paul, Niko and Amy at Pimoroni, the team at Machine Rooms, Tom at BleepBleeps, Stephen Somerville, Alyssa Tisné, Helena Ambrosio, Steve Redmond, Ania Maslanka, Peter Papp, Nina, Sofie + Lily, Susan and kids, Rob B and kids, Chris Sice, Alex Johnston, Rainy Dias, Nina Mistry, Julia Montero, Richard Ewbank and many more...