Readmio Sets Sails for LatAm

  • Czech edtech Readmio announced its expansion to Latin America and Spain
  • Readmio app employs AI for enhancing the experience of reading stories to children by recognizing the reader’s speech and adding sound effects on the go
  • The startup also plans to unleash more features in 2024

Readmio, the Czech reading enhancement startup, has become a household name not only in its home country, but also in Poland and a couple of other European countries. This November, the company announced its expansion to Spain and Latin America.

By Parents for Parents

The startup was started by a team of four founders hailing from quite diverse backgrounds and a shared history of working together on various projects. Previously, they owned a mobile app development agency for many years, which was later acquired by Avast Antivirus, where the team continued working together.

Eventually, they decided to build Readmio as a personal project since most of the co-founders are parents with a shared desire to build a product by parents for parents. With their background at the mobile app development agency, they realized they should utilize their vast experience and skills to build their own mobile app.

As it is well-known, reading to children doesn’t only contribute to both their imagination and vocabulary, but it also enables them with social values and principles. Moreover, it not only becomes a significant part of their upbringing and development, but it also helps build a closer bond between parents and children. Fairy tales are also a key tool for expanding the vocabulary of young minds.

Researchers at Ohio State University published a study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics that reveals that children who read five books a day at age five got exposed to as many as 1.4 million more words than their peers who were not read to at all. A survey by Empik reveals Polish parents’ awareness of this fact, as they tend to expose as much as 70% of children under the age of five to books every day, while another 20% reach for books together with their parents several times a week. These overwhelmingly positive figures illustrate the importance of shared reading experience for Polish families.

Enhanced Reading

Jozef Šimko, Co-Founder and CEO at Readmio

Technological advances have allowed for a solution like Readmio that enhances this shared reading experience further. The Readmio app employs AI and speech recognition to add to the stories’ engagement and uniqueness. More specifically, it monitors the story as it is being read by the parent, enhancing it with corresponding sound effects that stimulates the child’s imagination further, facilitates adequate understanding of the story and guarantees a more exciting experience.

Readmio operates on a subscription model and offers access to nearly 130 stories in a number of European languages. Naturally, the database is constantly expanding. Additional features include summaries of the stories’ morals, topics for discussion with the child, and the option to pre-record the reading of a story (not to abandon the reading routine in case the parent has to be absent for a day or two).

‘We utilize speech recognition to enhance the experience of reading stories to children by adding music and sounds when users read aloud. Speech recognition, a subset of artificial intelligence and machine learning, involves converting spoken language into text. The accuracy and effectiveness of this process heavily rely on AI and ML algorithms,’ Readmio’s co-founder and CEO Jozef Šimko clarifies.

The startup chose not to use third-party online solutions from major providers, although such options were under consideration during the prototyping phase.

‘We have integrated speech recognition with our proprietary algorithms and various techniques from linguistics and computer science, such as the Levenshtein index. Our solution incorporates both open-source components and proprietary elements. A key feature of our technology is its ability to operate solely on-device, without requiring an internet connection. This approach ensures fast performance and low energy consumption,’ Mr Šimko explains further.

Edtech and Readmio in Numbers

Readmio falls under the realm of edutainment or, broadly, edtech. Edutainment is a form of entertainment designed to both educate and entertain. Our platform seamlessly blends education and entertainment to create an enriching storytelling experience for children.

According to the Education Technology Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report published by Grand View Research, the EdTech market reached USD 123B in 2022. Its continued dynamic growth is forecast, with a projected CAGR of 16.1%. The report estimates USD 348B by 2030, underlining its growing importance and potential.

Adam Ďurica, Investment Manager at Zero One Hundred

Zero One Hundred‘s investment manager Adam Ďurica acknowledges that edtech’s long-term value within the Venture Capital industry and fund investment strategies is projected to experience steady growth in the upcoming decade. He reminds that VC funds have invested more than $10 billion in emerging startups in the Edtech sector, and edtech startups have maintained an impressive CAGR of 17% over the past 10 years.

‘This demonstrates the continued strength and growth prospects of the education technology sector, both vertically and horizontally. At Zero One Hundred, we also see this huge potential, which led us to invest in Readmio. This is mainly due to Readmio’s ability to effectively connect the education, entertainment, and learning of children alongside technology,’ Mr Ďurica comments.

As for Readmio, it has seen revenue growth of 280% in the last 12 months. Readmio users have already read more than 4 million fairy tales to their children, which amounts to more than 490,000 hours of shared travel through fairy tale worlds.

Mio and Content Vetting

The startup’s mascot, Mio, gets their name from the company’s name, ReadMIO. ‘They look like an elephant, but we admit that they might as well be an ancient spirit of storytelling in the body of an elephant. They derive great joy from helping someone or teaching something. On the other hand, injustice makes him sad. Team members often consult with Mio, especially when faced with difficult decisions,’ Readmio’s co-founder Ilya Novodvorskiy tells ITKeyMedia.

Ilya Novodvorskiy, Co-Founder at Readmio

It’s left to assume that Mio is the author of the Readmio Content Guide, the company’s internal manual for selecting fairy tales to include in the offering. Generally, the guide stipulates that each story must serve an educational purpose and sets the standards for sounds and music. It provides clear and actionable guidelines and dos and don’ts for authors, sound engineers, and all other team members, including editors and translators. If a story lacks an educational element or a focus on knowledge, experience, or well-being, it doesn’t make it into the app.

‘Beyond the Content Guide, our team is also tasked with creating stories that respect the cultural habits and traditions of the target market. What might be perfectly normal for children in one country could be considered inappropriate in another. To navigate these cultural nuances, we rely on editors from each respective country,’ Mr Šimko continues.

Readmio’s policy is to write or source stories that are traditional to the respective market. While the list of available stories typically includes traditional or well-known tales, the app also introduces stories from foreign countries to each market to add a refreshing variety to the collection.

At Home and Overseas

As of now, Readmio has gained a firm presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, and the UK, where it has become an important part of family life, integrating reading and technology to the benefit of both children and parents. Overall, the app has amassed more than 400,000 users, and the ambition is to double down within the coming months by entering Spanish-speaking markets in Europe and Latin America.

‘The market population speaking a single language is a key factor. Spanish is spoken by 500+ million people worldwide, with over 400 million in Latin America alone. Regarding the Portuguese language, we decided to focus on Brazilian Portuguese, as Brazil has a population of 200 million,’ Mr Šimko states.

Economic aspects are also important here: although the purchasing power of these region’s citizens may be somewhat modest, the market size is still substantial. Additionally, customer acquisition costs are significantly lower compared, for example, to the US or European markets. This is why Readmio sees great potential in these markets.

‘Finally, there’s the cultural aspect. Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, as well as the rest of the CEE region, have a lasting tradition of reading to children. Latin American countries also have strong family ties and place a high value on bonding activities, such as reading,’ Mr Šimko adds.

As for other plans for 2024, the co-founders – without disclosing any specific details – share that the team is diligently working on fresh and innovative products to the delight of parents and children.


Comments are closed.