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Giorgia Migliaresi

Giorgia Migliaresi

A New Adventure: Making Pigzbe

Going from 0 to 1 is difficult. How do you begin rethinking the way children learn about money in a digital world where physical money is on its way out? How do you go about making something seemingly complicated, simple, easy to understand and play with?

We believe all children can learn how to earn, save and spend wisely. We just think they need intuitive, fun tools that make money relevant. This is is the premise under which we set out to make Pigzbe: a simple tool (launching in 2 weeks on Kickstarter!) that will give your children financial superpowers.

We knew what we wanted to achieve. But how to get there?

Luckily, we had Cubetto.

The lessons we learnt from creating our friendly little robot, which has introduced over a million children to coding around the world, became guiding lights when we started making Pigzbe…

Lesson 1) Don’t re-invent the wheel. Break the wheel!
Cubetto was inspired by Logo turtle and Maria Montessori’s teaching. We just took the best parts of both and synthesised them in a product we know and love.

For Pigzbe, traditional piggy banks, allowances and pocket money were obvious starting points. They provide wonderful, early routes into personal finance: earning cash through chores, filling up the piggy bank with coins, counting your savings.

The problem? They run on physical cash, and in a world of contactless debit cards and Apple Pay, physical cash isn’t just a hassle for parents, but increasingly redundant when you think about the digital world our children will inherit. Chores go unrewarded, lessons are lost.

If we wanted to reinvent allowances for a digital world, then whatever we created needed to run on digital money. It needed to be something that a parent could manage with no stress, right from their phone…

Lesson 2) Make it hands-on

But if money had to be digital, I also knew we couldn’t lose that important kinaesthetic learning that comes from coins and piggy banks.

Children love physical things, and when it comes to looking at the world as connected, they’re super important portals into digital experiences. Things you can hold in your hands make abstract ideas tangible and understandable. This applies to coding – just look at Cubetto! – and it applies to financial literacy too.

So the idea for Pigzbe started to take shape: a handheld home for a child’s digital money, where they could save the money they earned. Not a piggy bank, per se, but something different and new: a ‘piggy wallet’.

Lesson 3) Work with amazing people
Of course, I couldn’t do it alone. So, I reached out to my friend Jon Marshall.

Jon is perhaps the foremost child tech product designer in the world. You’ll almost certainly have seen or touched his work, which includes a bunch of amazing, innovative connected products like the Kano Computer, the Kano Pixel Kit, and the SAM Labs IOT system.

I told him about my idea and…he loved it. (That’s me and Jon, below!)

We started on a prototype, which meant knocking on the door of another friend, Hugo Shelley, who’s worked on projects for NASA, Google and many others. Hugo (that’s him in the photo below!) also managed all the electronics engineering for Cubetto, and I knew I could rely on him creating something truly special. A wizard with electronics, we soon had early models of Pigzbe up and running.

Lesson 4) Make it beautiful
That meeting with Jon was over a year ago. Since those early days in the workshop, we’ve thought carefully about everything. Materials, weight, sizing. The curve on a corner, the bevel on an edge. Seams, lines, textures. Today, we’re gearing up for mass production in China with a device that looks unlike anything else out there.

To date, Pigzbe prototypes have been touched and played with by more than 250 pairs of hands (big and small) to ensure that when it reaches you, it does what’s it’s meant to. We know it works for kids, and that adults love it too! Without these early prototypes and test runs we would be flying blind, but we know we’ve created something incredibly special, useful, and fun.

Lesson 5) Make it useful – make it educational
So what does Pigzbe look like today? What does it do? How does it teach children how to save and spend wisely in a digital world?

So here goes…

Parents use the Pigzbe App to transfer digital pocket money to their children in the form of Wollo, our new educational currency. With the App, parents can also set up tasks, send gifts and suggest goals.

Children get notified by any new transfer, task or gift via their handheld Pigzbe device. Rich in games, haptics, visual and audio feedback, it’s where they keep their digital money.

The children’s App is an adventure that enhances the hands-on experience, helping children learn through connected play. Through the App, children can also set savings goals for the things they really want. Once they have enough, they can spend their earnings in the real world by converting it back into everyday money.

Like I mentioned above, in two weeks we launch Pigzbe on Kickstarter. There will be a very limited number of early bird discounts (40% off!) and we’d love you, the Primo community, to claim them – so stay tuned!

Filippo 🙂

P.S. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and the team on Twitter or Facebook

For more on how Pigzbe teaches children about money in a digital world, check outPigzbe! Also, check out Pigzbe’s mega-giveaway and enter to get a hold of a $1,500 educational toy bundle for the Christmas holidays!

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