Samurai Incubate Israel
Meet Our Portfolio — TOKY
Hello Stav! What does your startup do?
Our startup makes objects smart, interactive and educational for kids. We first decided to focus on kids’ toys market: We bring any toy to life, like in the movie “Toy Story”. We make the toys interact with other toys and with the child: They can tell stories, sing songs, teach educational content — even languages. All this is possible through a device that you can put on any lovely toy, which recognizes similar devices that it can connect to and interact with. In this way, toys can have conversations among other toys, letting the kids be a part of a multi character conversation experience.
Another important thing in our product is that the parents are the ones who control the content in the Toky devices. When they buy Toky, they have connection to the content marketplace and they choose whatever they want the Toky to talk about. Toky content can always be changed and updated, so Toky will grow up with the kid and stay relevant for long time.
What sparked your interest in becoming an entrepreneur?
I think it’s in my character. I’ve always been a “mini-entrepreneur”: Since I can remember I wanted to build stuff or engage in new activities. I started this startup as a mom and realized important issue with kids’ activities and education. Children today experience their world through the filter of screens, they prefer screen content than playing with physical toys. I look at my kid, he is two years old and he knows how operate the TV or my iPad but he doesn’t know, for example, how to write or talk properly. This is something that bothers me as mom. So I thought, how we can get him to actually play and talk instead of being passive in front of a screen?
How would you describe the Israeli business/startup culture?
Everybody has a startup and everybody can be an entrepreneur here. In Israel, everybody can take his/her own background and create something new out of it. Something that they can change in the world and do better. I think this is the Israeli way. We feel the need to do everything easier and better.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome since joining the startup world?
The biggest challenge was to understand this startup world! I come from a different background. I was a designer, so I really had to learn everything from scratch. After we opened the startup, fundraising was really hard, especially because we were dealing with hardware. We had to convinced that we are software based company, and the hardware can be manufacture by 3rd party while we focus on the ecosystem.
What led you to Samurai?
Toky was selected as the winner of the prestigious 1st Cross University competition startups event initiated by Samurai Incubate. With my partners Avi Kalaora and Tal David we started the project in the master degree in Design Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the College of Management.
Samurai with the tight connection to Japan is perfect opportunity for us, since the Japanese culture adopts innovation and cuties products “Kawaii”. Toky is perfectly suitable for this definition.
What makes Samurai different from other incubation programs?
Samurai Incubate Israel is real a home. Everybody here is so friendly and supporting each other. A significant added value of Samurai Incubate Israel is that they are really involved and helpful by creating lots of connections between Israeli startup and Japanese world leading companies. They support us in overcome the limitation of business culture while reaching the Japanese market.
Do you like working in a co-working space or do you find it distracting?
Oh I love it! You can learn so much from everyone. It’s not just you and your team, but a variety of people: You hear different ideas and solutions and if somebody knows something better than you, you can always learn and get assistant.
How did you build your team, or what qualities did you look for when building your team?
First of all, that we can become friends, after all the the journey of a startup involves a lot of stress, decision making along the way, and it’s important that you trust and be able really communicate when things also go wrong. Second thing is as a small team ‘we must have experience in a wide range of areas, one of which complements the other, so we have Tal David who has long experience and background in product and developing process of communication products for the last 20 years. Avi Kalaora who is highly talented in product designing all the way from idea to manufacturing, and myself who has a lot background in content and designing for children.
In my case I was lucky to have my friends as my co-founders.
How do you decide when to change your product or when to perfect your ideas?
Our passion leads us, the desire to provide something new and valuable guides us, but the way is constantly changing due to technology limitation, the target of the product price and more. As long as the goal and motivation are strong and we are moving forward, we have no problem to modify the product on the way as we loyal to our customers who are waiting for the best.
How often do you travel to different conferences and events?
We are trying to participate in any event that have meaning to our business and is not painful in respect to budget, however we noticed that good things happends when you don’t really expect them, in Israel everyone has a friend who can help you.
As for traveling abroad, we are making sure that each expense goes to a smart target, we do understand that marketing expenses is going to be our main expenses, therefore we will soon embark on funding round and we seek cooperation.
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