The Mentor Network Founder Feature – Boddle

Welcome back to the Founder Feature Series, where we chat with the founders of the 6th Cohort of The Mentor Network to learn more about them as individuals, as well as their entrepreneurial journeys.  They have great wisdom and experience to share with the rest of the community and could likely use your help as well!

Today, we have some time to spend with Clarence Tan, Co-Founder of Boddle.  Boddle is an educational game that helps teachers deliver fun math practice & assessments with automated reporting so that they will have more time for greatness.  Boddles are fun-loving game characters that demonstrate the importance of knowledge and character. The platform is fun for students, loaded with math skills and helps teachers save time on data collecting and reporting.

Besides being accepted into Cohort 6 of The Mentor Network, Clarence was recently accepted into the LaunchKC competition and walked away as one of the grant winners!  He also earned 4th place at Regnier Institute’s Venture Creation Challenge.  Additionally, Clarence and Boddle took part in the AWS EdStart Startup Accelerator.  He’s clearly taking full advantage of what the KC startup community has to offer!

Clarence Tan

What did you do before you were the Founder of your startup?

Before Boddle, I had founded another game-based startup called Edcoda, and was a partner in a South American game studio called BlazingSoft.

Why this startup?  A.k.a. what is your ‘why’?

To us, what makes Boddle so special (aside from our awesome game-based learning technology) is the message behind it.

We saw an amazing opportunity to use our bottle-headed game characters to tell students to fill their heads with knowledge and to value themselves and each other for the character that they see on the inside.

Lastly, in the game, the objective for players/students is to fill their heads by collecting knowledge and then to pour back out by watering plants and trees that grow fruits.  So we’re also telling them that they have the ability to change their environment for the better.

What was your first milestone/win that let you know you were on the right track to building this business?

I knew I was onto something 6 years ago in Colombia, South America when a young 4th-grade student’s eyes lit up as she was playing one of the educational games I had designed.  And that has kept me in this space the whole time.  But for Boddle specifically, the first win was when we won 4th place in the Regnier Institute’s Venture Creation Challenge back in May.  We were really encouraged that we were able to win something with the business only being 3-months old.

Why did The Mentor Network stand out to you as a positive program to be involved with?

Being in Kansas City, my guess was that the Sprint Accelerator’s Mentor Network would have mentors that had experience in the education space, as well as in the creative space— especially with the Kauffman Foundation, Hallmark, and VML being in town. I was right!

What have your big wins been so far within The Mentor Network?

The biggest win I’ve had so far was winning the $50,000 LaunchKC grant, in which I attribute a lot of my success to my mentor— Mike Whaley fromVML who helped me a lot in creating a great story.

How do you maintain sanity in this crazy, insane startup world?

My faith has been fundamental for me, especially with all the pains, failures, and lessons learned in the past 7 years as an entrepreneur.  I also love playing the electric guitar as I get to feel like a rock star for a little bit whenever I’m in the dumps.  I’ve also found that rock climbing is amazing as you get to experience conquering a wall after falling/failing 10-20 times in a row.

KC has so many resources and people to help entrepreneurs.  What are we still missing?  What gaps do you think we need to fill?

I think Kansas City is on to the right track in its current trajectory. Should I be wishful, I would like more early-stage funding programs like Digital Sandbox KC.

Regarding the KC startup ecosystem, what has been your favorite service/resource that you would like to share with other founders to take advantage of?

Digital Sandbox KC & 1 Million Cups. If you’re the educational space, the Lean Lab Education organizes a lot of amazing events and resources.

If you could go back to the day you started this journey and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

I would tell my past self that progress and promotion are guarded by problems— so enjoy the process.  If I had extra time, I’d also tell myself that BitCoin caps off at around $19,700.


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Also published on Medium.

About the author: Ari DeGrote