In 2009, the founder of Boddle Learning, an interactive 3-D game designed to help children from kindergarten to sixth grade improve their English and math skills, moved to the United States with the goal of pursuing higher education.
Edna Martinson successfully completed her undergraduate degree in international business at Park University. While working a part-time job at a commercial real estate company, Martinson continued her studies and obtained her MBA from the University of Missouri in 2016.
During her MBA journey, Martinson met Clarence Tan, who was a game designer at the time. They not only became life partners but also shared a common passion for children and education.
Martinson said that they noticed teachers were facing difficulties in classrooms with students of different learning levels. “I’ve seen personally, what a good education can do to help propel you in life,” Martinson told ABC News. “And I want to help kids also be inspired to learn and get that good quality education.”
In 2018, despite having limited funding, Martinson and Tan began working on their game idea to maximize children’s learning. They participated in pitch competitions and focused on creating a prototype to show teachers and students in classrooms.
In 2019, they received financial support of $50,000 from LaunchKC and $100,000 from AT&T’s accelerator program to help with the development and programming of their platform. In the following year, after creating a minimum viable product, they officially launched Boddle Learning.
Martinson explained that when they were creating an educational game for kids, they wanted to focus on characters that children could develop a strong connection with and that held a special meaning. She said in an interview with Nasdaq “Well, we named the company Boddle after the bottle-headed characters we have in-game. As students learn, their character’s head fills up, sending that message to fill up on knowledge.”
She added, “The transparent nature of the Boddles highlight the importance of a child’s character on the inside, and once their heads are all full, Boddles pour back out to grow fun stuff in their virtual environment. This lets kids know that with an education, they have the ability and power to change the future.”
Initially, Boddle Learning had 2,000 users. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in demand as educators sought tools to help them transition to remote teaching. This surge in interest prompted Martinson to leave her full-time job as the user base grew to 50,000 in 2020.
In 2021, Startland News reported that Martinson received $100,000 from the Google for Startups initiative. Also, in recognition of her efforts to promote educational diversity, the Ugandan-born who grew up in Ghana was named to the Forbes 2023 Education 30 Under 30 list, according to KTUL.
In the future, the organization hopes to reach parents with options for healthy screen usage outside the confines of the classroom.