Cristina Angelillo, Educational Apps for Kids and Teens – The Wom

largeHe worked as a telecommunications engineer, left everything to create educational applications for children. And now together with his partners he is collecting awards. Even from Apple.

You have to dream big. She is convinced of it Cristina Angelillo, which put no limits to his imagination or desires. And she managed to make her dream come true: to create educational applications for children and teenagers, download worldwide. Of course, it wasn’t a wave of a magic wand. Cristina left her job as a telecommunications engineer to found a startup, la Marshmallow games. She tried her hand at things and roles that were completely new to her and probably gave up more than a few hours of sleep. He chose to stay in barihis hometown, instead of moving to a place that might have made things easier.

But thanks to his and his partners’ determination – Marianna Pappalardi, Francesco Capozzi and Massimo Michetti – continues to achieve goals and recognitions. Latest in chronological order: SmartTalesapplication that through funny stories helps kids learn STEM subjects, was selected by the program App Store Foundations. This means that apple decided to support the creativity of Cristina and her team. Let’s say it: it is a great satisfaction not only for them, but in general for technological Made in Italy.

Smart Tales goes beyond school subjects. Teach values ​​and principles. Between one story and another, the little ones discover the importance of respecting others and the environment. They also understand their own emotions better. And there is no one who cannot use this app, in fact it is extremely comprehensive. A beautiful journey, Cristina’s. This will go far, we’re sure.

Nine years ago you decided to revolutionize your career path and focus on your big passions, your children and your education. So you created the startup Marshmallow Games. What was the trigger?

As a mother I began to see the world of childhood with more and more curiosity and a desire to create something innovative. I left my profession as a telecom engineer to create my first app for kids on my own, which was instantly appreciated by thousands of users. With my partner and two dear friends – the current partners of Marshmallow Games – we then started the adventure.

With your apps, you and your team have achieved three million downloads worldwide this year, with more than 100,000 monthly active users. What are the keys to success?

It’s definitely a team hit. Today, 22 people work passionately at Marshmallow Games, including graphic designers, developers, and marketing and communication staff, and thanks to everyone’s commitment we can boast that we produce quality apps with high educational value. And then dream big. We immediately imagined ourselves as an international reality, aiming for quality and comparing ourselves to our competitors globally.

You also believe in separate gender IT.

We have created a team that is as diverse as possible in terms of gender and skills. We believe that diversity adds value to our company, and while achieving equality in technology is perhaps more difficult, it is a challenge we have set out to meet.

You chose to stay in the South, the company is based in Bari: has this location made things difficult?

Starting from a more technologically advanced context where it is possible to create a network of contacts would probably have benefited us. But we would also have suffered the pressure of competition. Here in Bari they pay more attention to us. In recent years the Region of Puglia has invested a lot in technological innovation and we were among the first to be able to reap these advantages. And then, even working a stone’s throw from the sea has its advantages: it affects the quality of life and work.

Marshmallow Games’ flagship app is Smart Tales, which helps kids learn while having fun, with a focus on accessibility and neurodiversity. Before the launch of Smart Tales you participated in the Apple Foundation program: how useful was that experience?

Apple’s program has enlightened us in many ways. We learned user experience and app monetization best practices. The program also touches on fundamental aspects of accessibility and has inspired us to increase special features for young users with dyslexia, color blindness or cognitive impairment. It was a valuable and encouraging experience: top Apple executives were available to give us feedback, for example on how best to communicate the value of our app to the user in a sensitive phase like onboarding. This support undoubtedly puts you at an advantage in the market.

Smart Tales has received many awards for its educational and pedagogic value, was chosen by Apple as App of the Day in more than 50 countries and you have launched a partnership with UNICEF and Earth Day Italy. It was also recently designated as a resource for people with autism.

These are all recognitions that fill us with pride. Smart Tales stories, in addition to animation and storytelling, teach positive morals. Children have fun and in the meantime learn to respect others, recognize their feelings and love the environment. This is why UNICEF and Earth Day Italy appreciated our format for transmitting these messages. Recently, Ibcces recognized our slow and reassuring stories as a useful learning resource for children with autism.

The App Store Foundations Program is the initiative developed by Apple to provide young developers with support in creating applications. Hundreds of talents participated and this year you are among the five selected. Italy is also there, therefore, thanks to you. Great satisfaction, but also responsibility.

We are happy to be able to represent Italy. We’re obviously doing a good job and Apple appreciates our efforts to take advantage of the suggestions made in the App Store Foundation. However, Italy can have its say internationally: there are now several very successful Made in Italy companies in the panorama of digital applications.

What is the value of initiatives like those implemented by Apple?

Apple has identified excellent developers to include in its program. Being a part of this networking and being able to share your ideas was extremely encouraging. You can freely compare yourself with other virtuous developers, and it is interesting to discover commonalities, despite the fact that you come from different fields. Furthermore, there is the possibility of cultivating contacts even after the program.

What is the role of applications in today’s society, to what extent can they contribute to its improvement?

I can answer what our scope is. We make educational apps for kids and teens, and our mission is to make screen time as educational as possible. As well as making classroom lessons more interactive and stimulating. We should not demonize technology, it is a powerful tool if used intelligently.

Do you think the female contribution to the app world is sufficient or, even then, is there a difference to the male presence?

There is no doubt: the gap exists and we still have a long way to go to fill it. Without a doubt, a woman leading a digital business faces greater challenges. But, in general, in my opinion it is no longer difficult to do business if there are contexts in which being a woman also brings advantages.

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