Summer is in full swing, and keeping the kiddos engaged and learning during their break from the classroom can be a challenge. Why not make it fun?
Pixel Press, a St. Louis-based startup founded in 2013 by Robin Rath, CEO, and Rob Bennet, CTO, has clever and unique video gaming resources that blend physical play with digital learning and creativity. The company’s platform, Bloxels (http://edu.bloxelsbuilder.com), incorporates physical toys and hands-on tools that children ages 8-14 can use to create their own video games – though the products are designed to appeal to any kid-at-heart.
“The fun and creative possibilities of Bloxels reach kids at school and at home. We’ve seen children interested in video games and STEM benefit cognitively and developmentally through the engagement that our tactile and digital games offer. Bloxels is for children who enjoy seeing their creations come to digital life and for parents and teachers that want to push them to learn technology.” said Rath.
Pixel Press will release Bloxels EDU 2.0. this summer. The update will combine the company’s consumer-targeted Bloxels Builder app with its education-targeted Bloxels EDU app into a single app experience. The combined experience will work across mobile and tablet as it had before and now will be accessible via desktop web browsers and Google Chromebooks, which are used in over 70% of schools nationwide. The new app will also be built for kids to design and develop their own video games across home and school through a unified account platform.
Children using the app can create and share story-driven games that they design and program. The games can then be shared with friends and classmates who can collaborate and play along with them. Educators will use the Bloxels EDU Educator Hub to create accounts, distribute lesson plans to students, track their progress, and award badges.
Educators can then release those accounts to students at the end of the school year or semester through a parent purchase program. Bloxels is currently used in more than 3,000 schools across the United States and is also popular in international markets with a concentration in Canada, Australia, and Asian Markets.
Pixel Press was featured in March as part of STL Made (https://thestl.com/work/game-on/), an event that highlights companies and people helping to power the regional economy. Rath shared the story behind Pixel Press, recounting that, as a kid, he was intrigued by more than just playing video games; he spent countless hours drawing characters and game maps and writing stories. He imagined bringing his creations to life.
“I had a vivid imagination growing up, as all kids do, and had fun putting my stories to paper – oftentimes as video game ideas. Shortly after high school I founded a software creation company to build digital experiences, and through those partnerships I was exposed to a lot of different types of technology that led to the idea of Bloxels. We started Pixel Press in 2013 after a successful Kickstarter campaign; the idea of creating a content creation platform for kids grew from there.”
Rath said that he is grateful to the St. Louis investment community for the support and investment they have provided his company throughout the evolution of Pixel Press.
“We’ve been able to continue to grow thanks in large part to the support of St. Louis angel investors. We’re thankful for their mentorship and commitment to helping us realize our vision for Pixel Press to inspire and educate kids through STEAM.” said Rath.
Pixel Press also recently launched a new client services division (http://www.projectpixelpress.com/services) of Pixel Press, which will offer external clients an opportunity to work with their development team to bring their technology ideas to life; with a specialization in gaming, augmented reality, and technology driven event and tradeshow experiences. As part of this launch, they have opened a new office in the Cortex Innovation District and will be located in the CIC @ CET building.
“When Rob and I founded Pixel Press, we both left previous companies in which core business was delivering high-end user experiences built around cutting-edge technology; Bloxels exists in large part due to those experiences. Not surprisingly, we’ve fielded numerous requests over the years to offer our expertise to other companies, which we have, until now, declined unless they involved Bloxels directly. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to get back to our roots; we’re saying “yes” a bit more and building new partnerships in new industries in a very hands-on way,” said Rath.
He added, “We’re also grateful and happy to be building this company in St. Louis, where we have solid support among our young and aspiring community. We get a kick out of it when kids in the local schools find out these games are made right here in St. Louis. It helps them see that it’s possible to create something really special right here in their hometown.”
Robin Rath was recognized in the 2015 Business Journals “Upstart 100” list of top inventors and visionaries driving the new economy, in 2016 as the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ “Inventor of the Year”, is St. Louis University’s 2017 Center for Entrepreneurship’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” and is a member of Pipeline Entrepreneur’s 2018 Fellowship Class. His products have been the recipient of multiple awards and nominations from organizations including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), The Toy Industry Association (TIA), Kidscreen, and the American Library Association (ALA).