Rady School of Management FlexEvening MBA ’17 students, Kuong “KC” Chea, Wanty Chow, Christopher Bui, Shu Tu and Mathieu Hoffmann, recently participated in the Hult Prize regional competition in San Francisco. The Hult Prize is a startup accelerator for social entrepreneurship where students compete to develop ideas that help address the world’s most pressing issues. The Rady School students who call themselves “Team BRady,” were chosen as one of the 100 teams to compete in the San Francisco regional finals, and one of the 500 teams to compete from around the globe, out of 20,000 entries.
The topic for the Hult Prize this year was addressing the gaps in early childhood education in the developing world. To address this issue, the Rady School team developed “BRady Bear,” an interactive, cuddly teddy bear equipped with technology that engages children through stories, songs and games.
Christopher Bui explained what makes BRady bear different from other technology-enabled toys on the market.
“What we really wanted to create is one toy that would grow with a child through its developmental stages,” Bui said. “For example, an infant can’t talk, but BRady fosters tactile sensation. As a child gets older, they will begin to talk and BRady will grow with that child, with content that is flexible and customizable. This content will be housed on our BRady website and smartphone app and can be purchased by parents and caregivers and downloaded to BRady.”
Bui noted that even in the developing world, many people have access to phones that can download BRady’s content. Because the bear is portable and simple to operate, it can be used by parents, teachers and caregivers to bolster a child’s language learning and help close the early education gap. Because the BRady Bear also offers feedback on a child’s progress, content can be tailored to best benefit each child.
“All the sensors and technology we’re putting into BRady can measure a child’s progression through the content,” Bui said. “So, we can measure how many words a child is exposed to. We can track when BRady gives simple commands, for example, if he says in a story ‘I like it when my tummy gets rubbed’ and a child then rubs BRady’s tummy, that is a positive response we can track and see the understanding of the language. We can also put that info on the website for caregivers and parents to track their child’s progress and give feedback on where their children can improve and suggest content to help those areas.”
Although the Rady School team did not advance into the final round, they are excited about the progression of the BRady Bear idea and hope to keep pursing it in the future. They hope to partner with an educational content provider and are considering the idea for their Lab to Market course. They have also received positive feedback on the idea from faculty at the Rady School and across the UC San Diego campus. Bui said he and his team are grateful for the support they have received while developing the project.
“We really thank the administration, faculty members and the support staff because without all of them, our dream of this would not be possible,” Bui said.
The Rady School emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurship through one-of-a-kind programs and resources to deveop leaders and connect entrepreneurs, research institutes and investors. In just 11 years, Rady students and alumni have started 82 startups and counting, and had a $2 billion impact on the local San Diego innovation economy in 2014. Want to learn more about Rady’s MBA experience? Download our eBook featuring student and alumni insights on why they chose Rady, where Rady alumni work, the top benefit for Rady students and more.
Melinda Battenberg is the Public Relations Representative at the Rady School of Management. In her free time Battenberg enjoys cooking, craft beer and spending time with her family.