Meet Olga Kravchenko and Kaitlin Fritz
Founders Olga Kravchenko and Kaitlin Fritz have built Musemio to revolutionise children’s educational experiences of a museum, with the use of fun and entertaining elements and ‘virtual reality’.
1. Why did you start Musemio and what were you doing before?
O: I initially thought about creating a VR application for increased museums’ engagement back when I was completing my Master’s degree, and after spending 6 months and realising that museums are not yet ready to embrace the technology, I pivoted and thought about the market that needs museums the most – children. Not until I met Kaitlin, did I realise that I was building more than just a game based on cultural narratives, but a powerful digital key that can change the way children learn at school and at home.
K: And I met Olga after she had her first MVP Museum 2.0 which spun out of her research, and I saw the potential something like this could have globally as an educational tool. Growing up in rural America, I recognised that access to arts often is stifled by geographic, social, or economic factors, and this makes me passionate about making arts and education more accessible. It wasn’t until I met Olga that we aligned and saw that technology could be the democratising factor in sharing this information for kids from PA to the UK. Before Musemio, I was completing my Masters at UCL in Art History and working for edtech companies.
2. What were the biggest sources of inspiration and support when you were starting out?
O: The startup journey is always very roller-coaster like. And for us inspiration is in our little users, whose faces light up when they use Musemio. But support is another essential thing that we were lucky to get from different accelerators and incubators we were part of.
K: Like Olga said, the kids (including my two little nieces) are my source of inspiration. If we can affect the way they think, feel, or see the world, then we’ve have done our job. We have been blessed with fantastic support networks from our families, friends, mentors, universities, and the entrepreneurship community.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting the business?
O: Resilience is the most important quality when you start and build the business. You will make mistakes, fail, not meet expectations, but when you acknowledge all of that and act upon your mistakes – that’s when the real resilience comes in.
K: I agree with Olga, but for me, I think it is grit. Startups build character! You will fall so many times throughout the journey, be faced in situations where you must stand in your company’s convictions, and have to constantly learn along the way. But, it is how you as a person deal with these things that makes you into the entrepreneur you want to become. Starting a business takes courage, hours of hard work, and trust in your company, and confidence in your capability as a founder.
4. What has been your proudest moment/biggest achievement so far?
O: We were doing a trial, and there was an explorer with dyslexia. The child, who struggles with writing in school, wrote out the story of Hatshepsut after going through the Musemio experience. His father could not believe it! That’s when I knew that at Musemio we actually make a difference.
K: I agree. I think we are both incredibly proud of this moment because every child who uses our product makes the Musemio experience their own. Anytime a child walks away wanting to learn more, I’m proud. Another achievement that we have been truly honoured was winning the Fareena Baig Award Social Enterprise Award from Queen Mary University. Social impact for us is truly part of the mission of Musemio.
5. What piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out?
O: Don’t be afraid to get the negative feedback! Negative feedback is what will make you grow both as an entrepreneur and the business.
K: Be ready to accept a road of unknowns! You have to be resilient, agile, open-minded, and courageous to do a startup because there truly is no manual. (And because there is no manual, my second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help; people who have been through this journey usually share their routes, failures, and successes along the way.)
6. What piece of investment did you make in the business that was worth every penny?
O: For me, it was going to Slush 2018.
K: The best investment from my perspective is also in Helsinki, but mine is partaking in xEdu. Getting the sound pedagogical basing, international co-creation, top quality mentorship, a group of edtechies going through the same experience can’t have a price tag.
7. Which element of marketing has made the biggest impact on your business?
O: I think for us great marketing has been word of mouth through our parent trials and outreach events. We have had many engaged parents (and kids) who have helped spread the word. We also have great connections with our internet community via LinkedIn and Facebook.
K: Yes, parents, schools, and our Musemio community have been huge pushes for us marketing wise, and we are lucky to be a part of programs like EEN, QMUL, KCL, and UCL that have been able to spread Musemio’s message at a much larger scale.
8. What do the next 12 months look like for you?
O: It will be probably be the most difficult period of our lives. We are launching, and putting our research and refinement into action. But we can do it together, because we are the most incredible team on planet earth.
K: I think it will be full of opportunities and excitement as well. We truly have gotten to know who we are as a business and as founders which will only pave the way for the future. Like Olga said, it will be tough (lots of coffee-filled nights!), but I cannot wait to continue to revolutionise cultural education, bring out the latest innovative tech, and open children’s eyes to culture.
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