Last week we talked about disruptors. This week we’ve got a great example of disruption called Babyfonics Genius. And if you have a child or grandchild who’s learning to read, you’ll really enjoy this post.
New mother Heidi Dobbs was busy teaching her pre-school children to read when she had a brainstorm — what’s the point of teaching kids the ABCs if it doesn’t actually help them read? Wouldn’t it be better to teach children the letters’ sounds instead? That way her kids could sing the sounds together and automatically read the word.
Example? Joey knows all his ABCs. Courtney doesn’t know her ABCs – but she knows her lettersounds. Both kids start kindergarten. The teacher asks Joey to read the word “ant.” He recites the letters “A…N…T.” The teacher asks Courtney to read the same word, and she says “aaaaa… nnnnn… ttttt — ant!”
Heidi developed her program and sent both her children and her nieces and nephews off to school already knowing how to read simple words and sentences.
Their teachers’ reactions?
Some of their teachers were thrilled. Some were nonplused. But most were surprised that kids who couldn’t identify their ABCs could actually read while the other students who knew the ABCs could not.
Despite this, none of the teachers were interested in using this system in their classrooms. After all, the ABCs and reading had been taught the same way for years. The teachers pointed out that the system wasn’t proven. It wasn’t accredited. And its inventor didn’t have “Dr.” before her name or a string of impressive initials after it. The fact that Heidi’s kids and her sister’s kids were the best readers in their classes didn’t seem to matter.
So Heidi did what so many red-blooded American inventors have done before her. She developed her system herself and offered it to exactly the people who would be most interested – the engaged and involved parents of preschool-aged children. Except instead of having to create books and games and work with printers and pay for inventory and rent storage space and pay for advertising and shipping, Heidi used Internet technology and created an app called Babyfonics Genius.
Five days after uploading her reading app to the Apple App Store, Babyfonics Genius was made available to the public and parents everywhere were given access to a whole new way of teaching their children to read.
There’s no publishing company, no middleman, no distributor, and no wholesaler. In other words, there’s no one to get between Heidi and the kids she wants to teach. Just a great new idea that’s helping parents everywhere.
FOX Business anchor Melissa Francis, herself a mother of small children, interviewed Heidi on her show Money with Melissa Francis, and parents who tuned in were immediately able to pull their phones out of their pockets and download Babyfonics Genius. But of course it didn’t stop there. Heidi repurposed the footage on YouTube and on her various social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and gave even more parents the opportunity to learn about her innovation.
Soon more and more new students will show up at their schools knowing how to read but not knowing the names of the letters they’re reading and more and more teachers will be puzzled. At a parent-teacher night or at a PTA meeting maybe, they’ll ask a parent how come their child can already read and more folks will know about Heidi’s disruptive breakthrough.
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But none of it will have gone through the traditional channels.
Eventually Babyfonics Genius will be a ubiquitous success, resident on every new parent and grandparent’s iPhone, and everyone will know about it. Yahoo or Google or Microsoft will pay a billion dollars for Babyfonics Genius and Heidi’s smiling face will be on the cover of Forbes or Fortune or Fast Company’s richest 40 under 40 edition. Perhaps Babyfonics Genius will be so successful that Heidi will be even more famous that her major league infielder husband Greg.
But right now Babyfonics Genius is a disruptive little idea waiting to be discovered. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And don’t hesitate to download it if you have little ones at home.