Leading up to the launch of our iPad app, we were working to get coverage from one of the big morning shows. Alexis created Butt Art caricatures of its entire cast, complete with step-by-step instructions.
At the same time, it was the height of the Republican primary. Newt versus Mitt was hot. We wanted the morning show to see that Butt Art could be used during just about any segment so, naturally, we put together drawing steps. They were never used. Rather than have Romney rot in a folder, we figured the day of the first 2012 Presidential Debate was a perfect time to share this GOP gold. Enjoy!
Today, we are thrilled to announce that our first iPad app, Butt Art – Kids Learn to Draw Zoo Animals Step-by-Step, is live in the Apple App Store. The interactive iPad app teaches step-by-step drawing with a unique twist - drawings start with a butt shape (like a rounded, lowercase w).
The app’s release expands our existing product line which includes two printed books found on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and other retailers nationwide. Everything Butt Art at the Zoo was published May 1, 2011, followed by Everything Butt Art on the Farm, released September 1, 2011. Two more books are scheduled for May.
In creating Everything Butt Art, we set out to combine creativity, education, technology, and, most importantly, silliness, in a way that would be compelling for kids and their parents. With the creativity, education, and silliness pieces securely in place and finding their way into kids’ hands across the country, we’re excited to finally add the technology piece to the mix.
While there are lots of drawing apps, we can say with full confidence that Everything Butt Art is one-of-a-kind, not only from a brand/concept perspective but also from a features perspective.
The Basics (in most kids’ drawing apps)
Paintbrush, pencil, and eraser
Lots of colors
Beyond Basics (in some kids’ drawing apps)
Zoom and move feature (ours has smart-centering when returning to 100%)
Size adjustment for paintbrush, pencil, eraser, and stamps
Narrowing the Field (in just a few kids’ drawing apps)
15 animals available
Step-by-step instruction with tracing lines that can be turned on and off depending on an artist’s ability
In-app gallery of saved art
Animation of animal drawing steps: watch before trying
Full e-book available: full-page color spreads, audio, and virtual page turning
Hidden shape game, Butt Hunt (naturally): Butt shapes are hidden throughout full-page illustrations. Try to find all of them. One page for each animal. A scoreboard keeps track of found versus hidden while jungle music plays in the background.
Account Creation and the Web
All of the above puts Everything Butt Art in a category of one but it’s our backend :) that really sets us apart. Creating an account using email or Facebook opens up a set of enhanced features:
Badges can be earned for drawing related accomplishments, like the Zookeeper badge for saving at least one drawing of each animal.
Creation of multiple profiles (big sister’s art is separated from little brother’s)
Drawings automatically save to an online gallery and can be set to public or private
Art is emailed as an embedded image in real-time
Drawings post to an online activity feed, tagged with the profile, date, and displaying swatches for the colors used
Parents can share art via Facebook and Twitter or directly email (without having to upload an attachment)
Featured Art is curated daily and posted on the homepage
Gallery visitors can “smile” at drawings that make them happy
Popular drawings rise in the gallery based on a combination of Facebook likes, Tweets, comments, views, and smiles
For a limited time, Butt Art is free to download. It includes three animals for free with the remaining twelve available as in-app purchases for $0.99 per pack of six. Account creation and enhanced features are free.
We have a ton of awesome content ready to add to the next version of the app. Drop a line if you’re interested in joining our team: firstname.lastname@example.org
We knew 2011 was going to be exciting - we were about to share our crazy idea with the world. While we thought we were on to something pretty cool, it’s easy to think that from inside the protective cocoon of close friends and family. We didn’t know what to expect upon showing our baby to the world.
Fortunately, the reception from kids, parents, educators, journalists, bloggers, retailers, and the startup world has been amazing, and at times, even a bit overwhelming. We’re proud of our accomplishments and psyched for 2012.
Some months back, Rebecca Zhou told me about an epic fundraising event she was organizing to benefit hackNY, an organization that aims to bring the best student-technologists in the country to NYC. We have every intention of building our company in New York so supporting an organization that brings awesome talent here made perfect sense. The event is called Raise Cache.
We’re finally ready to release our iPad app and website into the wild (see preview below). We’ll select a limited number of users that will get early access. We hope you’ll give us feedback, point out bugs, and suggest new features/functionality.
To be considered please email email@example.com or go to everythingbuttart.com and submit your email address in the “Sign up for our beta!” field (if you’ve already signed up for the beta - no need to re-submit - we’ll reach out to you).
To increase your chance of selection, do one (or all) of the following:
This is my first startup. With it comes countless lessons. If I’m fortunate and sensible, mistakes I’ve made this time around I will avoid with startups two, three, four, etc.
Lesson I’ve learned: Perfection is envious but impractical.
Throughout this process I’ve wanted everything to be perfect – our books, our website, our iPad app, the buttons in the app, the location of certain text, a color, a texture, and on and on. It has become abundantly clear to me that even if perfection is possible, it’s certainly not practical. Perfection as a goal seems like it could make sense. Why wouldn’t you want your product, user experience, interface, etc. to be perfect? For one, perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Further, the likelihood that you nail it the first time is near zero. Continuous improvement makes so much more sense. It’s a mantra in the land of tech startups: build quickly, release early, get feedback, iterate, and repeat often.
This all seems so logical now but it took experiencing the process for me to arrive here. Reading about it is not a substitute for doing it and learning firsthand. Recently, I’ve found it easier to say things like, “We’ll tackle that in version two.” or “It’s good enough for now. Let’s see what users think.” I wish I had gotten here sooner but arriving here at all gives me optimism about my own continuous improvement.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that our products won’t be perfect, not when we first release them, not ever. We will just keep improving and hopefully that leads to happy users.
Now, off to perfect a few things in our iPad app before we release it ;)
We are huge fans of graFighters - both the concept and the people behind it (follow them on Twitter - @graFighters). In their words, the ultimate goal of graFighters is “to be able to bring any drawing to life exactly how you’ve imagined it aka: Dragons breathing fire, Robots behaving like machines, and unicorns harnessing their magical powers to shoot laser beams of happiness…”
While our approaches are quite different, (drawing using a butt shape versus sketches fighting each other) a number of our beliefs are aligned:
1. Drawing is cool – Neither our team nor theirs would be putting the time, effort, or money into our ambitious projects if we didn’t fundamentally believe in the power of drawing. We are each taking risks to build something we think can delight on a large scale.
2. Drawing is for everyone – We each say as much in our respective “About” sections. graFighters: “It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, designer, doodler, kid in a classroom or retired person in Florida. If you have a pencil and an imagination we’ve got an arsenal of characters waiting to be challenged.” Us: “Everything Butt Art makes it easy for anyone to be an artist regardless of age or skill-level. Whether you’re 3 or 103, EBA will unleash your creativity.”
3. We want to inspire creativity - Turning a butt shape into an artistic masterpiece, sketching a character that’s fit for battle, or combining the two, can’t be done without exercising creativity. While our applications of creativity are -arguably - specific in nature, the regular exercise of creativity has implications across countless spectra.
4. Technology is the hub – We both believe that through creative uses of technology we can take something as old as time (drawing) and enrich the experience around it.
We’re rooting for graFighters and are thrilled to have connected with such a talented team.
Here’s the Everything Butt Art Ostrich from the graFighters gallery of test characters. Thanks for including us, guys.
The EBA Kangaroo looks ready, too. See more of the graFighters test gallery.
The New York Times called last year’s festival “a jubilant success.” More than 5,000 people attended the Wilco production.
I’m not sure there’s a better venue anywhere for this type of festival. If you’ve never been to MASS MoCA you should make plans immediately (there are still tickets available for Solid Sound). It is situated in the picturesque Berkshires - nestled in the mountains - in a converted factory campus. The Berkshires is ripe with art, music, film, and theater housing gems like Tanglewood, the Clark Art Institute, and the Williamstown Theater and Film Festivals. However, in my mind, MASS MoCA is its crown jewel.
What a venue! We’re lucky.
I was disappointed to miss last year’s festival because of a conflict but couldn’t have anticipated that this year’s attendance would be as a participant. We’ll be in a tent on the concert field. Based upon the success of the 2010 festival this year’s attendance is expected to be around 6,000 revelers. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share Everything Butt Art with a crowd that has great appreciation for art and fun.
Oh, and wait until you see the surprise we have in store for the band!
Thank you to Joe Thompson, Sue Killam, and Wilcofor inviting us to be a part of what promises to be an exceptional weekend.
Multiple stages throughout the MASS MoCA campus.
This is going to be quite the weekend. Grab a ticket and join in the fun.
In February, after months of locking myself to a desk while collaborating with my fantastic Co-founders Dave Markle (@DaveMarkle) and Alexis Moniello (@AlexisFaye) I felt like I was finally in position to get out and meet people in New York’s thriving tech/startup scene (which was completely foreign to me). If I had it to do over again I would have started sooner – but no regrets.
After some digging I came across the New York Tech Meetup (NYTM). As I understand it, the largest of all Meetups hosted through www.meetup.com. Around the same time I finally signed up for Twitter (@briansny). The February 8th NYTM was my first. I was floored by the energy in NYU’s Skirball Center that evening. I met great people and left more motivated than ever before. In particular, I was impressed by demeanor and energy with which Nate Westheimer (@innonate) facilitated the meeting. Naturally, I asked myself “I wonder what the deal is with this dude?”
Using the internet J I learned all about Nate. What fascinated me most was a project he was tackling using his newly-learned coding chops called ohours.org. Ohours enables one to share “Open Hours with Interesting People.” That is quite an understatement based on my experience as an Ohours power-user. I’ve met outstanding people. One such person is Reece Pacheco (@reecepacheco). I met him at Ohours on February 27th. We hit it off immediately (both being from MA didn’t hurt the situation). He understands what we are trying to accomplish with Everything Butt Art. Reece and I have stayed in touch since. He has made valuable intros and shared lots of startup wisdom.
Reece also gave me a window into TechStars. TechStars is arguably the most well-regarded startup accelerator in the world. The program culminates with Demo Day in front of friends, family, and lots of potential investors. Given that Reece and his team were going to be presenting their startup, Shelby.tv, (social, individualized TV channels) to the world I definitely wanted to attend.
Turns out, one of my best buds from grad school, Eric Carlstrom (@EverTrueEric), and his team had recently been accepted into the Boston TechStars program with their startup EverTrue (mobile tech enabling alumni relations). Eric offered to get me a ticket to the Webster Hall event.
TechStars Demo Day was flawlessly executed and inspiring. That night, Aol Ventures hosted an after-party. As the party came to a close I found myself looking for the exit with TechCrunch Co-Editor, Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld). I hadn’t met him previously but recognized him. We left the party and chatted about our favorite startups of the day. I’m not one to force my startup story on someone but if asked I’m more than happy to share. As we were about to part ways, Erick asked “so, what do you do?” I briefly explained Everything Butt Art. He asked if I had applied to Disrupt. When I told him I hadn’t because I didn’t think we fit the mold of a traditional tech startup he replied that I should apply for exactly that reason – we didn’t fit the mold. We set up a meeting at Aol Headquarters for the following day. Erick said “I just hope you don’t show up tomorrow with a bunch of stuff you drew.” I laughed and assured him that wouldn’t be the case.
The next day I showed Erick our iPad app and first book, “Everything Butt Art at the ZOO.” He was into it. After talking for 20 minutes or so he said “I’m going to introduce you to our CEO, Heather.” I went through the pitch with Heather, demoed the app, and sent her home with a book. She told me later the idea that resonated most with her was that through our platform we’re merging print and digital by digitizing children’s art from the physical world and combining it with digital art via our iPad app -creating a lifetime repository for a child’s creativity.
Heather similarly encouraged me to apply to Disrupt. They both understood it’s not really about butts.
The Wednesday after my meeting I received a midnight email from Erick with the subject line “Look at what you’ve done.” I had given him a copy of the book and his email said “My 6 year old is already drawing butt art.” The drawing he sent was silly to say the least but importantly, Erick witnessed first-hand how Everything Butt Art immediately engages children. In my humble opinion, engagement is everything when it comes to education.
I submitted our application and shortly thereafter we were informed that we had been selected as a Battlefield Finalist.
Luck found us… and we do feel lucky to have been part of TechCrunch Disrupt, meeting and being among amazing people. We weren’t seeking Disrupt but by building something creative and unique with an important mission behind it, we put ourselves in a position to make strong connections that led to our inclusion.
Before attending that fateful New York Tech Meetup I may have had one or two friends in the startup world. Now, four months later, I couldn’t feel more at home in this community. Go New York tech!