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Dreambox: eLearning Comes Home

Late in 2005, when my co-founder Ben and I first started talking about the notion of DreamBox Learning, we knew that the eLearning market was, as one person put it, “an elusive quarry” (btw, this same person wanted to bet that the discovery of an alien life form would happen before one eLearning company was profitable, let alone an established public company).

You have to understand that much of this cynicism stemmed from two decades of near misses. But being the curious (fine, stubborn) guys we are, we wanted to understand why all of these well-meaning and otherwise enlightened companies became road kill. What we found was neither surprising nor intellectually deep: their timing was off.

Think about it.

The Move Toward Individualized eLearning

Before we reached the 21st century, the combination of user behavior, the number of homes with broadband, PC power, and sophisticated Web technologies didn’t exist in any meaningful way. Today, things are much different. Most of DreamBox’s initial users (children ages 4½ – 8 years old) are already online; the vast majority of homes are wired with a pretty fast internet connection (thank you Comcast and Verizon); PCs are more powerful than a warehouse full of 1990 vintage super computers; and Adobe’s slick Flex framework allows for super rich and dynamic internet applications on top of its ubiquitous Flash Player. Empowered by this, we formed DreamBox Learning with the stated goal of bringing effective, engaging, and truly individualized learning fun to children in their homes over the internet. Now, we thought, all we had to do was build the company.

Oh, yeah, build a company.