We talked to Miki Chojnacka of Hopster on how to help kids learn through the stories they love and this is what she had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Miki Chojnacka: Thank you, not bad. As many families got stuck home during the first lock-down, we decided to add a puppy to our family, so we don’t get bored, haha.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Hopster.
Miki Chojnacka: My husband, Nick Walters, founded Hopster. I stayed behind in the corporate world as someone had to be the breadwinner (early start-up founders don’t pay themselves much). Once the company was up and running, I joined to lead the brand and content and creative strategy for Hopster and international roll-out. I have over 20 years of experience in the media and entertainment industries, held senior executive roles in content, creative and strategy at MTV Networks, Viacom and Pearson, where I have launched channels & brands and products worldwide. But nothing is as exciting as launching a new brand from scratch with zero budget I held the Chief Creative Content Officer position at Hopster and was Co-CEO earlier this year for five years.
How does Hopster innovate?
Miki Chojnacka: We have always been an agile company, able to adapt to changing media landscapes and technical advancement. Small team, great ideas, quick to market. When hopster first launched, it was a simple D2C proposition, a new edutainment app for preschoolers that was quite revolutionary at the time. As streaming and SVOD platforms boomed, we were able to forge partnerships with telcos worldwide and quickly adapt our business model to seize new opportunities. We listen to our users, create, develop, test, iterate, and test again. We take risks, fail quickly, and learn. We have a flat structure, and everyone’s voice is audible. We love what we do.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Miki Chojnacka: I couldn’t be prouder of the team and how we all came together to respond to COVID-19 back in March. We moved to remote working from day one. Within weeks, we had developed a new slate of original short-form content to help kids understand how to be safe during the pandemic alongside offline learning packs for families to use home-schooling. There were an unprecedented demand and appetite for educational preschool content, and we saw a massive uplift in downloads and engagement across the world.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Miki Chojnacka: Like every business, we are acting cautiously, Brexit is due to imminently, and households and companies worldwide are tightening their purse-strings – we are merely working smarter and responding accordingly.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Hopster in the future?
Miki Chojnacka: I relax reading hard science fiction, something is calming in humans’ vision as multi-planetary species with AIs looking after us. But I don’t have the luxury of stress or anxiety at work, we lead a team, and the last thing they need is the CEO looking stressed. I like solving problems, so every challenge is an opportunity to approach it in the right way.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Miki Chojnacka: We compete for kids’ time every day, and every day, we need to have something to amaze them and give parents peace of mind. The competition is fierce, thousands of kids’ apps being added to the AppStore every month. We continuously invest in our content that amplifies our core brand values USP’s. Our customers and partners love our progressive brand, which showcases gender-neutral, diverse and inclusive stories that help kids learn. YouTube or Noggin are competition – but they also have a completely different brand offering to Hopster.
COVID-19 Response Content Playlist Click HERE