Kerpoof – slick dynamic coloring for kids

Kerpoof.comKerpoof is a new Boulder company that recently launched a neat new product that lets kids create, color, print, and share within a browser, and it’s very cool.

“Kerpoof is all about having fun, discovering things, and being creative.”

The first time I played with Kerpoof was about 4 or 5 months ago, I think. Jim Pollock of CTEK introduced me to Krista Marks, one of several Xilinx refugees who went on to become founders of Kerpoof. I got her initial “pitch” at that time, and it was immediately obvious that Kerpoof was just plain cool. It uses Ajax technology to provide a desktop-like living coloring book experience. You pick a scene, drag items into the scene, save it, print it, share it, etc. The scene is actually dynamic – for example, dropping a moon onto the scene alters the whole image to be set at night.

Back then, Krista told me that the goal was to create an advertising supported destination site where kids could come and start having fun in three seconds. Advertising to kids is is both tricky and touchy – you can’t just throw up a banner ad and expect it to have some impact. Krista had an interesting business model in mind called ‘immersive advertising‘. In this model, the kids actually play with the ads. Imagine, for example, a soda bottle that can be placed in the scene and manipulated. In Krista’s model, advertisers would pay for such placement.

My initial reaction was that although Kerpoof could become a destination site with large national-brand advertisers vying for placement, I felt that Kerpoof would have an easier time selling specific sponsors who would be interested in providing Kerpoof on their own web site in a white-label fashion.

It looks like Kerpoof is following both paths with their early customers, perhaps trying to nail the model in the best way possible – by experimenting and listening to customers. One such early customer is the Butterfly Pavillion, which has placed a ‘Play Kerpoof’ button on it’s home page. If you click on it, you can interact with a scene designed to reinforce the Butterfly Pavillion’s brand and image.

I had my 5 year old play with this a while back on his “hand-me-down” iMac (no way he’s getting his hands on the MacBook Pro). At that time, it was just too slow for him and he got easily frustrated. That was probably largely due to the fact that he was on a pretty old and slow machine. But I think lots of kids are using hand me down machines that aren’t going to do a great job of handling the latest, coolest Ajax tricks. When I tried it again this week on that same machine, it was much faster than it was a few months ago, but still lagged at times, essentially ignoring my requests. This will only continue to get better with time as the software gets quicker and machines get faster, but in the short term may still prove to be a big challenge for Kerpoof especially with younger, less patient kids (yes, like mine!).

Kids aged 5-14 are invited to participate in a drawing content using Kerpoof. Kerpoof has partnered with Boulder-based Kidz Magazine as part of an initial marketing launch for Kerpoof. Not a bad way to get exposure initial exposure to millions of kids.

file under: Blog, Startups