MyEsteeme is a Swedish edutainment method that helps kids’ work with equality through play at home or at school.
The founder and creator of MyEsteeme Leslie Alfredsson tell us how it all started and about the cooperation with Cybercom’s Innovation Zone that helped Leslie to realize her ideas.
How did you come up with MyEsteeme?
Leslie Alfredsson is the founder and creator of MyEsteeme.
Back in 2014 I and my six-year-old niece were watching YouTube videos together. She then asked me to buy some makeup to make her look more like her favorite YouTuber. I became quite upset with the realization that she as a 6-year old girl felt that she was not good enough as she were and that children in such a young age are affected by beauty ideals and gender stereotypes.
So, I went to a toy store trying to find a doll that looked just like her, because I wanted to explain to the little girl that she is good enough as she is. I could not find any dolls like that. All I found were dolls and toys that reinforce gender stereotypes both for girls and boys.
I decided to take action and from that, MyEsteeme was born.
We have now developed a line of five dolls which are diverse in both gender, race and general appearance.
They are gender neutral. They have been designed in cooperation with phycologists and schools and we also have developed an education package for preschools that include all the dolls and carefully designed exercises for equal treatment education. This has become a mandatory part in the Swedish curriculum plan for pre-schools. Currently, we are the only company that provides a complete package to meet the curriculum and it has been selling well.
The next step for us was to go digital. We have seen that to reach our goal today dolls will not be enough, we need to work in several channels where YouTube and mobile apps as an essential complement to the dolls and education tools. So we knew we needed to find a partner and that search brought us to Cybercom.
How has the cooperation with Cybercom been?
Developing mobile games has been a whole new experience for us but it has been a fantastic experience to see the apps grow from idea to reality.
The team has worked in an agile way where we get updates every two weeks. This has allowed us to explore, test and change ideas as we go along. Without this way of working it probably would never have been possible for us to reach our vision.
I have been amazed by the progress we have achieved since the start of the year. It has surpassed our expectations. We feel very lucky to have found a partner that understands us and our vision and that has helped us to evolve it to the next level.
What is the next step for MyEstemee?
These first two apps that we are working with will if all goes well just be the first in a long suite of apps that will help parents and children to be healthy and feel good while having fun. We hope to build a healthy business and be a recognized brand with mobile apps that parents can rely on to be healthy and good for their children. And in the end that is what I and the company value most to make an impact for children for the better, to build their self-esteem, to feel good with themselves, be kind and supportive to each other and be physically active and healthy.
How did the Cybercom Innovation Zone get in contact with MyEsteeme?
Dennis Zikovic is the innovation leader for MyEsteeme.
Cybercom Innovation Zone in Malmö has been networking with schools, universities, and incubators in the Malmö region. The MINC incubator sponsored by the Malmö municipality sends interesting companies our way and MyEsteeme was one of them.
It clicked immediately when MyEsteeme presented their company and what they stand for: drive, passion and good ideas with great values for social sustainability.
MyEsteeme works with toys and educational tools for children designed with equal treatment and boosting self-confidence in mind. They wanted to go digital and extend their offering with mobile apps using Augmented Reality (AR).
What is the project about?
The project started in January 2018 with three students from local schools with the aim to explore the possibility to create an AR game for the company.
In April we extended the team with 12 students from Malmö University. They focused on exploring ideas around using AI-based object detection in the solution.
This summer MyEsteeme and Cybercom found the progress of the project so promising that a plan to continue the work until December was approved. In October 2018 the first of two planned apps were released and so far the reception has been very good. The second app is planned to be released in Q2 2019.
What has been your role?
My role as Innovation Leader is to work with MyEsteeme as a startup company and together with them find the best solution to meet their needs. I then work as a product owner and technical lead with the development team. We work in an exploratory way using lean start-up methods creating many pilots.
What challenges have you had along the way?
Challenges in this project have mainly been in the context of game development. Although we are experts in mobile app development we have not worked with mobile games before. So story development and 3D-design, for instance, have been new areas for us.
It has however turned out well and has helped us to establish a new relationship to a game developer school that has provided us with trainees to the project.
Who has contributed to this success story?
There have been 17 students involved in the project with support from Cybercom employees in periods. The project has had good support from Cybercom’s test team in Malmö.
We have been very satisfied with the students and they have been a success factor of this project. This project also proves that engaging student trainees are a successful way of working in the Innovation Zone.
This has also turned out to be an excellent way to recruit new colleagues and to promote Cybercom and our Innovation Zone in the Malmö region.