TalkiPlay is a new Australian startup looking to bring an evidenced based approach to childhood learning. Founded by Dr Annie McAuley TalkiPlay aims to make learning to talk fun for children and simple for parents. It does this by transforming the home and classroom into a language playground through the use of kid-friendly hardware and a smartphone application.
For Dr Annie McAuley, an experienced researcher and mother of two, creating TalkiPlay was part of a personal mission. Dr McAuley created TalkiPlay to unlock her youngest child’s speech delay, to install an instrictic love of literacy and to build confidence in her ability to communicate. As Dr McAuley went onto say, the application aims to “motivate children to engage in speech in their real world through play based learning”.
To create a real-world application that would achieve these goals Dr McAuley applied her medical PhD research background with her own experience of language loss following an earlier traumatic brain injury. She also sort input from clinicians and educators across the country who recognised that we need to improve the education outcome for the 1 in 5 pre-school children struggling with speech delay.
To bring the idea to live Dr McAuley took a decidedly non-tech approach initially. With input from her eldest child, Hayden, they used craft paper to brainstorm ideas that would get his sister, Grace, to talk. After many visits to the library for further inspiration and by combining the creativity of her children with the evidence based research she had discovered Dr McAuley created the early prototype system for what would become TalkiPlay.
The next phase of her journey was to move this onto a tech-based solution that had scalability and the potential to help children all across the country, and not just in her own home.
When speaking with Startup Soda Dr McAuley said this was something she initially struggled with. As she put it, “I didn’t see myself as belonging in tech”. In fact, this was a question she asked of Nicola Hazel, from SheStarts, during the very first week of the accelerator program. Just “what exactly does it mean to be a professional in tech – and could that ever be me?”
The trip organised by SheStarts to New York and San Francisco changed all that for Dr McAuley. It was there that she had the opportunity to meet with the female powerhouses of tech, and in particular be connected with, and now mentored by Lauri Saft, the Managing Director of Honeywell.
Through the SheStarts program Dr McAuley has also been able to connect with Adeline Chu, the Co-Founder of Saturday Kids, a highly successful edtech platform in Singapore and Raji Ambikairajah, the NSW Woman of the Year and CEo of Folo. All of these introductions, and more, had provided insightful guidance and mentorship that allows Dr McAuley to say that I have “landed my feet as a woman in tech.”
Looking to the future, the next adventure for TalkiPlay is to make the application available for selected preschools. To support this growth Dr McAuley will be looking to build out a team to support this phase of expansion. Following that Dr McAuley aims to have TalkiPlay available for the home by next year.
You can learn more about TalkiPlay by visiting their website here.