“The UK has a rich heritage of creation,” Yoto’s CEO Ben Drury on changing the face of kids’ storytelling

Can you talk to us about the concept of Yoto, how did it come about?

Fillip, the company’s co-founder and I worked together at 7digital, a digital music business I founded back in 2004.

We both has young children an were chatting about wanting to give access to great music and audiobooks but without addictive screens or parents needing to control things like Sonos or Amazon Echo/Alexa with voice or phone.

We wanted to create a product that kids could control with physical interactions so that they could decide what to listen to and when. We then realised there was nothing really like this in the market.

Why is Yoto such an important product to be bringing to the children’s market? Why is now the right time to be doing so?

There is a tonne of research coming out that suggests that exposure to bright screens like iPhones and iPads at a young age can be detrimental to a child’s development. And as CDs as a format is in terminal decline, we thought that now was a great time to launch a product that has physical interactions with internet audio content.

Your recently announced partnership with Roald Dahl is an example of the product’s potential in the licensing space. Are you planning more deals along these lines? How big can this be in the children’s entertainment space?

We are really excited with the Roald Dahl partnership. The team there understood the concept instantly and have been very innovative and creative in working with us so far.

We have more deals in the pipeline – with music, stories and learning being our three main areas of interest.

When will Yoto be ready for retailers, how key will the UK market be to you?

The UK is our home market and obviously has a rich heritage of creation of children’s content so will be a key market. We are looking internationally from the outset and not just Anglophone markets. Spanish, French, German, Italian and even Arabic are on our radar from the outset.

Yoto will ship in June 2018 and we hope to be in select retail channels for Christmas 2018.

Who have you got on the Yoto team? How do you work to curate content?

Our team has built up a varied skill set from industrial design to coding to content licensing. I founded 7digital, the B2B digital music platform that is now a public company and has over 45 million song licenses globally. I was heavily involved in content licensing there.

What are your expectations for the product, how will this change children’s storytelling?

We would love to see Yoto being used at home and in schools and nurseires and to be able to show that Yoto is fun but can also be used to support learning. I would love to see Yoto cards being bundled with books so we can fill the gap left by the decline of the CD.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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