E-learning is a vibrant industry today. The biggest names from Silicon Valley are backing companies in the space. But back in 2010 when Roby John started TapToLearn.com, it wasn’t such a big deal. TapToLearn began as a sub-brand under June Software, a bootstrapped startup in Pune that developed iOS apps. By John’s own admission, TapToLearn happened simply because Steve Jobs launched the iPad and that inspired him and his co-founders to build learning apps in 2010.
TapToLearn built gamified education apps for iPad, iPod and other touchscreen devices. It wanted to “focus exclusively on building learning textbooks, workbooks for English and Maths for age groups 9-13”. Soon after, it was selected by Y Combinator (a leading seed accelerator in California that has funded over 460 startups including Dropbox and Scribd) and John eventually moved his bootstrapped business from Pune to Palo Alto. Thus began TapToLearn’s journey into the limelight. ALSO READ: RunSocial: Add a new dimension to indoor fitness with the Apple Watch
It received over $1 million in funding after passing out of the Y Combinator Program from investment heavyweights like Ron Conway, Andreessen Horowitz, and Yuri Milner. In June 2010, Apple marked it as a New and Noteworthy Application. TapToLearn’s Grammar App became the top-ranked app on App Store worldwide. Since then, its apps have notched 25 million downloads and are currently used by 18,000 US schools. Some of its popular products include Grammar App, Fractions App, Spelling Hero and GRE Flash Cards. Parent company June Software develops other apps too; it boasts of over 100 titles and 75 million installs on the App Store.
What really took off for the company? Of course, the Apple platform determined reach and scale in a big way. Add to that, the founders’ courage to take “creative leaps” as a company presentation puts it. The initial focus was on “education and trivia games” that formed a major chunk of the business between 2010 and 2014. “We were the pioneers of introducing touch for learning via the unique model of combining three senses for learning including sight, sound and for the first time – touch,” says the company website.
Later, as sports and entertainment took off, June started developing more real-time gaming apps in that space. “In 2014, we switched to building real-time multiplayer for mobile such as Ninjump Dash by building a Free to Play game engine called mEngine,” says Founder-CEO John. The game is played by 14 million people worldwide. ALSO READ: Apple to make 32-bit apps obsolete with iOS 11; nearly 200,000 apps expected to be impacted
A year later, they brought their products to India for the first time through a partnership with Nazara (a leading mobile games publisher) which holds the IP rights for Chhota Bheem and Motu Patlu. June went on to build the Chhota Bheem Race and the Chhota Bheem Toy apps that reached the #1 spot on the App Store briefly.
Now, the company wants to focus on more real-time gaming apps which it sees as a future. “As a company we have significant deep expertise in building game engines and can combine a world-class games team that will bring mobile eSports to India,” says John. Last year, their real-time multiplayer game MaskGun — a 5v5 multiplayer first-person shooter —was adjudged the Studio Game of the Year at the NASSCOM Game Developers Conference (NGDC). This year, MaskGun has had a worldwide launch along with June’s other titles. “mEngine ToonSquad, Tower Conquest and Road Riot are all growing. We have our hands full in 2017,” says John. ALSO READ: Google brings YouTube Gaming app to India: Here are its top 4 features