Hands On Podcast: How Interactive SaaS Can Tame Media + The Journey from Product to CEO

by Index Ventures


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How interactive SaaS can tame media + The journey from Product to CEO

James Ruben is the Founder and CEO of Hellosaurus, an award-winning interactive kids media platform where children learn by doing, not just watching. In this episode of Hands On, James explains why he decided to create this platform (which some refer to as the next-gen Sesame Street) as well as the unique challenges of building a content business for children. He also describes how Hellosaurus thrives in a special place that provides both valuable education and meaningful entertainment. Join us and discover how James and his team at Hellosaurus are revamping the world of kids media.

Listen to Hands On on Spotify. Also available on Apple Podcast & Simplecast.

Jump straight into:

(02:34) - James’ words to live by, childhood heroes and lessons from overcoming adversity. “You can't affect what you did 20 years ago. You can affect what you do right now. So you could have planted that tree 20 years ago, but the second best time is to do it today.”

(10:14) - How James describes Hellosaurus to six-year-old kids (and their parents). “A lot of our content essentially takes the format of ‘be a blank with blank.’ So, be a pilot with The Wiggles, be a firefighter with Katie, be a paleontologist with Laurie Berkner.”

(14:50) - Breaking the fourth wall: Why James decided to create Hellosaurus. “We’re still fairly tied to our TVs or computers for longer forms of content consumption, whether that be educational or entertaining. Kids under 13 are pretty much exclusively on mobile devices.”

(20:29) - Parasocial relationships and how Hellosaurus content is different from the ‘choose your own adventure’ format of storytelling. “It's very important that the kid feels heard and feels like they're actually part of that experience when an on-screen subject on Hellosaurus turns to them.”

(22:52) - Advice from James’ transition from product roles at Google and HQ Trivia to CEO of Hellosaurus. “Set the expectation of everything you'd like to do. Set that foundation, find great people who you trust for each of those pillars and then just observe from a high level.”

(24:50) - The power of repetition: What people just don't get about creating content for kids. “You're dealing with young developing minds that aren't picking up on every single detail and every single piece.”

(31:40) - Cracking the code: What James learned from the YouTube controversy with kids content. “Our angle is more of an interactive masterclass for kids. It's a balance between education and entertainment, but still through the lens of what a kid would want to see.”

(34:41) - Brands as People: What would Hellosaurus be like if it was a person? “Internally on our design team, we talk about making design that’s for ‘kids’ with ‘S’, not ‘kidz’ with a ‘Z.’”

Published — June 2, 2022