How Pok Pok creates award-winning children's games, and why its different than other gaming startups

Feb 8, 2024

In the episode of Story Mode, we cover the children’s gaming business and how it is similar, but mostly very different than most gaming companies. Olya speaks with Melissa Cash, Co-founder & CEO at Pok Pok, where they create award-winning educational games that empower kids to think outside the box, dream big and experiment freely.

They discuss the ins and outs of the kids educational game market from product development, distribution, marketing, and working with influencers. Pok Pok and the children’s market is very different from her work at The Walt Disney Company and indie game studio Snowman.

About Melissa, Cash Melissa Cash is Co-Founder and CEO at Pok Pok. Pok Pok is an award-winning digital play company redefining how kids play and learn on devices. She previously served as a Product Designer for The Walt Disney Company, was Head of Operations at renowned game studio Snowman and has led marketing and PR at start-ups both in Canada and Europe. She’s also an advocate and start-up mentor for women in tech and underrepresented founders.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

01:14 - Melissa’s inspiration or lack thereof for getting into gaming and how she got her start in the gaming industry. Including about getting her job at The Walt Disney Company early in her career after meeting a woman at a bus stop.

04:18 - The story behind the founding of Pok Pok and what sparked it at the beginning. And an overview of Pok Pok’s products, mission, and customers.

06:35 - How Pok Pok looks at crucial and popular metrics like Retention while purposefully building a product that’s not meant to be addicting. And Pok Pok’s approach to analyzing their data and finding the insightful patterns and insights over optimizing retention like a typical mobile game. 11:57 - Pok Pok’s approach for building products that help with kids’ social skills and why it’s a great toy for two or three kids to play at the same time. 14:03 - The reasons behind Pok Pok’s focus on the toddler age group and their plans to go into new demographics and the opportunities associated with the “user is not the customer.” 16:26 - Why Pok Pok chose a subscription model and why they stayed away from freemium. And their recent foray into paid marketing and the importance of social media and relevant influencers. 19:06 - Pok Pok’s approach to working with influencers, how they find them, and some best practices on how to experiment and also negotiate solid deals. 24:09 - Pok Pok’s product development and creative process, which they call a creative democracy and the talented team that handles art, game design, music, and audio. And their common practice of working with advisors to constantly improve their work. 27:43 - Melissa’s excitement about the future of using gaming for good and how gaming can be used to solve some of the world's biggest problems.