[Startup story] Domovoice | Rubik Garage Accelerator spring of 2023

[Startup story] Domovoice | Rubik Garage Accelerator spring of 2023

May 22, 2023

Domovoice is one of the 24 startups selected in the 2023 spring cohort of Rubik Garage Accelerator, from over 170 applicants from all over the world. Discover its story below. 

First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.

We are Tatyana and Ivan Durnev, family and business partners for 10 years. Tatyana is a project manager and has an engineering background. General organization of work on the project, search for partners, organization of production, and work with creative teams on visual and audio content.

Ivan is the founder of several local business projects, a web developer, and data analyst, and has an engineering background. Creation of an architecture for the interaction of software and hardware systems, architectural supervision of the technical aspects of production, software development, work with partners and contractors on the technical side.

Tell us more about your startup. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?

Our startup is called “Domovoice“. It is an interactive toy that includes a “smart” speaker-stand and various collections of themed figurines. You put one of the figurines on the stand, and it tells its fairy tale, story, or lullaby. This is a phygital device for children’s development.

Through it, we solve two problems:

  1. The problem of excessive immersion of children in gadgets. Since the smart speaker and collections of figurines are physical objects, they help children take a break from smartphone and tablet screens, providing opportunities to interact with real objects and develop their imagination and social skills.
  2. The problem of excessive consumption. Instead of constantly buying new toys, users can simply load new content onto the figurines they have already purchased. This saves resources, reduces waste production, and allows families to be more environmentally friendly by investing in long-term product usage.

Our collections are designed for parents, private educational centers, and state institutions of education and culture, that are engaged in the development of early childhood education.

What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?

We have two children, 3-year-old Anyuta and 6-year-old Yura. As parents and engineers, we were looking for a form of play for them that would help minimize their interaction with gadgets. That’s when we came up with “Domovoice”. We assembled a smart speaker from available materials, recorded fairy tales with our own voices, and placed markers on our children’s favorite toys so they could listen to our stories by placing the figures on the speaker stand. This interactive form was very popular with our kids, and we thought it could be interesting for other little ones as well.

For us, it became an excellent opportunity to combine a valuable digital experience with the real world for children.

How is your startup different from competitors?

Despite the presence of similar products on the market, our startup stands out for:

  • The ability to create personalized audio content
  • The option to choose the language for listening
  • The option to choose the content carrier – toy or card
  • Unique educational collections of figures and cards.

Tell us more about your team. 

We are engineers by education. We have two businesses that have been operating for more than 7 years (internet service development and event and marketing agency). We have a core team consisting of a creative and technical group. In the creative team, there’s me (Tanya), an artist-illustrator and 3D designer. In the technical team, there’s Ivan and a group of engineers.

However, for each collection, the team expands with experts depending on the theme of the collection. Fact-checking and content verification are important to us so that children receive objective information about the world through our toys. For example, for the “Fairy Tales of the World” collection, we are currently working with cultural and educational experts.

What are your plans for your startup in the next 6-12 months?

In the next 6-12 months, we plan to continue developing our startup and launch it on the market. To achieve this, we plan to attract investments to produce the necessary amount of devices and conduct a successful marketing campaign. In addition, we will continue to expand our educational collections and improve the functionality of the smart speaker.

What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?

Being accepted in Rubik Hub. 🙂

What about the biggest challenges?

We are facing several challenges as startup founders. One of the biggest challenges is attracting investments to scale up our production and marketing efforts. Another challenge is standing out in the market and differentiating ourselves from competitors. We are also constantly striving to improve the functionality and educational value of our product, which requires ongoing research and development. Finally, we are working hard to build strong partnerships with educational institutions and cultural organizations to expand our reach and impact.

What made you apply to our Rubik Garage accelerator?

We turned to the accelerator because we understand that new knowledge is necessary for the successful development of our startup. We want to gain access to resources and meet professional mentors and experts in various fields.

Top 3 learnings of the accelerator until now?

  1. Useful information can be obtained from the most unexpected source, you just have to be open-minded.
  2. The pricing workshop became one of the main discoveries, we realized that we were doing everything wrong.
  3. All products are created by people using the same methods, the most important thing is to take steps.

How was the bootcamp for you?

Bootcamp is a super useful event. Firstly, it was a gathering of like-minded individuals who support each other energetically and emotionally. Secondly, the master classes and lectures contained very useful information that helps to develop your startup faster and smarter, avoiding mistakes (or making fewer of them).

Ivan in bootcamp

What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?

The opportunity to be helpful to other founders and to leverage their diverse experiences, mindsets, and fields of expertise for our own exploration, as the community is very friendly, comfortable, and safe.

What message do you have for other startup founders?

Don’t waste your time.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

We don’t want to be just another toy manufacturer. No. We want to create collections with a mission. For example, in our global collection “Fairy Tales of the World,” toys tell stories about the values of different nations, teach respect, friendliness, understanding of other cultures, and knowledge of their own. Familiarity with the fairy tales of the world can stimulate children to learn new languages and inspire them to create their own stories.

We want to become an inspiration and a tool for children’s development. In this project, our mission is to help children easily and engagingly explore the world around them, combining digital technology and reality.

Domovoice_Collection of rare animals

We encourage you to support Domovoice and follow its journey.

Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from our accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether

Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.