Toronto MakerKids startup empowering kids to do big things

MakerKids is the #1 kids workshop in Toronto. Thousands of kids have taken our STEM programs in Coding, Robotics and Minecraft. Our Camps, After-School & Weekend Programs and Birthday Parties empower children to be creators, not just consumers.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Jenn Turliuk is the CEO of MakerKids. Jenn had a transformative and empowering moment when she coded a website at 12 years old that received thousands of views. This propelled her take on more challenges and give her self-confidence. Jenn then continued her studies as an adult at NASA’s Singularity University where she studied how to connect education and exponential technologies.

Jenn’s career highlights include doing marketing and PR for the Matterform 3D Scanner crowdfunding campaign (which raised over $471K – the most-funded Indiegogo campaign outside the US), helping build a 3D printer for a music video, launching an SMS-based disaster relief project during Hurricane Sandy, being selected as a Startup Chile entrepreneur (as part of a program run by the Government of Chile to foster entrepreneurship locally), creating her own self-education program which involved being 1 of the top 6 finalists in a competition to shadow Dave McClure of 500 Startups, leading the Canadian launch of Tide Pods (P&G’s biggest launch in 27 years), running Canada’s largest business plan competition (the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition), writing one of Forbes Greatest Hits articles and doing a TEDx talk in Spanish.

MakerKids is designed and created by industry professionals and makers (NASA’s Singularity University graduate, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and speakers from Queen’s University). Our instructors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including music, theatre, 3D design, game design and engineering. What all instructors have in common is the love for teaching!
How are you being financed?

We have programs and camps throughout the year. We also teach our programs offsite at many schools.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

There are many perspectives about technology and many about children, media and digital technology. When kids should go online? How much screen time? We realize that many kids are already introduced to video games, computers and phones before they come to MakerKids. Our goal at MakerKids is to encourage kids to use technology positively, effectively and wisely. Technology can do a lot of good and people can do a lot of good – that is one of the values we push. There is apprehension about the new digital world (for adults and kids) and we this is a concern we have considered.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds. We search many sources and industries to find the best fit. Experience teaching and working with kids is key. We have created premium training over the years to teach our new instructors our approach to teaching, coding, robotics and Minecraft.

See video of instructors at MakerKids:

Who is your biggest competition?

Coding and kids STEM programs are a growing industry and new. The landscape is always changing and there is much space for all of us to grow. The more kids reached, skills learned, and positive change that can happen are wins for us.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

We have been in Toronto for over 6 years and we are always looking to grow and expand. This may be in the form of additional locations and school programs.

What is the big lesson you've learned (success or failure) with this project.

Technology, which affects STEM education, is always changing. This means we always stay current, move quickly and be well versed with emerging technology. We were the first and largest makerspace for kids and have unique programs you can’t find anywhere else. This is a big success for us by propelling the maker movement here in Canada and abroad further.

Website: http://www.makerkids.com