Edna Martinson is the co-founder of Boddle – a gamified platform that provides interactive 3D games to aid learning for kids. The company was started by Martinson and her husband Clarence Tan with the heart and mission of inspiring kids to love learning. Since its founding, Boddle has received funding from Alpine ventures, KCRise Fund, Lightship Capital, Atento Capital, and many more including Pharrell William’s Black Ambition. Most recently, Boddle has raised $3M in seed funding and currently has over 2.5 million students registered on the platform.
Ahead, Martinson talks about her experience being a Black female founder and shares key advice for both Black founders and female founders looking to raise capital.
Tell us about Boddle. What’s the inspiration behind Boddle? How did it all begin?
Boddle is a kids’ gaming platform that embeds educational content into 3D games to make learning fun and personalized. My husband Clarence and I are passionate about the intersection of gaming and education. As an immigrant and a founder, I have experienced first-hand the doors that education can open up and have lucked out with incredible educators in my childhood who made learning so much fun. I want to give kids that same fun experience in learning, and I know how much gamification can help inspire that. Knowing that there is a huge problem in today’s educational landscape with kids falling further and further behind, I knew there was no better time than now to take action and play my part in helping give kids a solid foundation.
What’s one main insight you gained from being a startup founder?
You can have a rockstar team but if you don’t have solid processes in place, you’ll have strong team players with no direction. Solidifying and executing great processes is so critical to building a great company.
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What advice would you give young female founders who are looking for investment?
The stats out there on investments made for female founders can be discouraging sometimes. Since 2011, the amount of VC dollars granted to teams of only women has ranged from 1.8% to 2.7%; it currently sits at 2.0%. Nonetheless, there are organizations fighting to address this issue and I’d encourage female founders to tap into those resources. Lightship Capital is one that comes to mind; they invested in us and have been incredible partners. Other organizations I would encourage female founders to look into would be SoGal Foundation and Goodie Nation.
What advice would you give other Black Founders looking to raise capital?
There has definitely been more activity in recent years focused on funding and supporting Black Founders but we still have a long way to go. I do always love sharing the codes and helping other Black Founders gain access to resources, so two resources I’d encourage Black Founders to look into that have been an incredible support for me are Google for Startups Black Founders Fund and Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition.
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What are the 3 main things you learned from pitching your company to investors?
- At the early seed stage, it’s beneficial to find investors who are going to provide more than just a check, so as much as they are doing their diligence on you and your company, you also need to be doing diligence on them and finding out how they support their portfolio companies.
- You need to own and nail down your Founder story because seed-stage investors care a lot about who is running the company and want to be certain that there is a founder fit. Don’t be afraid to lean into your “why” and share why you’re passionate about the space you’re in.
- Fundraising can be a loonnggg journey with a lot of NOs. Don’t be discouraged by all the NOs, because the fact is, you only need a few YESes’ to get you going. Use the NOs as learnings and ask for feedback.
How do you stay focused and motivated throughout the day?
Implementing the Pomodoro technique (a method that uses a timer to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks) has helped me stay focused and not overload myself with all the tasks on my to-do list. I also use Notion for organization.
For motivation, I’ve got a pretty good afro-beats playlist on Spotify that keeps me pumped, and going on daily walks by the river with my son helps re-energize me.
Are you a full-time entrepreneur?
Yes, I’m a full-time entrepreneur and a mom which in itself is another full-time job.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I am a big foodie, so I love trying out new food spots. I’m also a creative at heart so recording music always puts me in a good mood.
What’s your current favorite book, podcast, or website?
My favorite podcast is TeachersOffDuty! It’s such raw, honest, truths about what teachers go through in their day to day.
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
We just closed a $3 million Seed Round so I’m excited to hit the ground running on growing the team and expanding Boddle to more subjects and more classrooms; we currently have over 2.5 million students registered. I’m also really looking forward to watching my son take his first baby steps.