For a gaming and education company that focuses on language- and text-free short-story scenarios, the fast success of Stockholm’s Peppy Pals speaks volumes about the growing demand for content that teaches children lessons in emotional intelligence.
Founded in 2013 by economist/entrepreneur Rosie Linder, Peppy Pals launched its first app, Peppy Pals Farm, worldwide in 2014. With funding support from global children’s rights nonprofit social entrepreneur incubator Reach for Change, and Stockholm Innovation and Growth, Peppy Pals Farm lets players get to know four gender-neutral animal friends and help them through different situations.
“The initial strategy was to be a traditional gaming studio similar to Toca Boca. We took a lot of inspiration from them,” says CMO Paulina Olsson, who was brought on board in 2015 to focus on international partnerships and expansion. “One important decision we made was to not include any character dialog in the apps, but we soon realized that creating games where you have to use a lot of storytelling and animation to convey meaningful character interactions takes a lot of time and money. It was basically impossible to produce as many apps as the other companies without a large backing partner. If it weren’t for Reach for Change, Peppy Pals would not exist today.”
Most recently, Peppy Pals developed a 16-episode TV series in partnership with popular MTG-owned Scandi streaming service Viaplay. Launched in September 2017, the series is Viaplay’s second original kids show, following 2016′s The Great Escape, and it has become one of the most viewed children’s series on the platform. Olsson says the series is helping increase the overall presence of the brand. “Since its debut, we’ve noticed an increase in both app downloads and visitors to our website, where families mostly go to print free colorings from each episode,” she says. Plans are now in the works for new episodes, and according to Olsson, the company is open to co-producing with Viaplay again or with new international partners.
Peppy Pals also recently released its fifth app, Peppy Pals School, exclusively on Amazon Freetime. “Peppy Pals has been one of the top-performing apps in the service, so Amazon reached out to us to see if we had more apps we would like to release,” says Olsson. To date, the company’s suite of apps has reached more than 150 countries, and Peppy Pals increased its downloads by 50% last year versus 2016—all without a marketing budget.
Next up is a subscription service that will bundle all of Peppy Pals content into one app and a web-based platform with lesson plans for parents and teachers. Both are expected to launch this year. The company is also working on a research study with US-based EQ-network 6Seconds on how supplementing technology like Peppy Pals can be used to increase children’s emotional intelligence. New initiatives will be supported by an additional US$244,000 (SEK$2 million) in funding from Sweden’s The Internet Foundation.