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Reflections on 2016: Grant Hosford, codeSpark

This holiday season, we are again sharing the reflections on 2016 from Southern California's technology ecosystem. Today's contribution is from Grant Hosford, the CEO and co-founder of codeSpark (www.codespark.com), the company behind the game The Foos (www.thefoos.com), which teaches kids to learn how to code just by playing the game. You can see all of our holiday reflections here.

What's was biggest news from you or your‏ firm this year?

Grant Hosford: codeSpark's biggest news in 2016 was closing on $4.1M of seed funding and launching our popular subscription service for kids ages 4-10. A close second was codeSpark Academy being named “best learning app of the year” by Kidscreen, The American Association of School Librarians and the American Association of Publishers.

What's the biggest lesson you learned this year?

Grant Hosford: The lesson of the year for me is the importance of stringing together a series of small and medium sized wins. We've been fortunate to have a few big positive moments as a company but what really defines our success so far is a relentless focus on moving toward key goals each week and month. Both investors and customers have told us we stand out for our ability to consistently deliver on new content, new partnerships and improving core metics. Regular wins mean more people are willing to bet on you.

What's your favorite technology gadget, device, or innovation you ran across this year?

Grant Hosford: My favorite consumer tech trend is voice activated assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both make interfacing with tech easier and anything that increases consumer convenience generally wins. In education, I believe we are seeing the first wave of educational games as they were meant to be – engaging and self-directed learning paths that the best teachers use to drive deeper understanding of core subjects.

Finally, what do you think will have the biggest impact on the technology industry in 2017?

Grant Hosford: In EdTech a wave of innovation is converging in a very exciting way. Cheaper devices (Chromebooks and Tablets), better development tools (Unity3d), global distribution platforms (Apple and Google App Stores) and better business models (subscription and freemium) make companies like codeSpark possible. Just 10 years ago building codeSpark Academy and distributing it globally would have taken 4-6 years and more than $10 million dollars. We did it in 2 years for $2M. Small teams have amazing leverage right now which bodes well for future EdTech innovation.

Grant is the CEO and co-founder of codeSpark, a venture backed edtech company turning programming into play. codeSpark's award-winning game codeSpark Academy with The Foos (www.thefoos.com) has been played by over 5 million kids in 201 countries. Grant was formerly an executive at eHarmony and Idealab and lives near Pasadena with his author wife and 3 kid coders.


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