050: Robin Rath (Pixel Press)

Robin Rath on Innovation City

“I believe that we’re all constantly telling stories to each other… and if a student is able to refine their storytelling abilities through technology, because they’re using our product, I think we’re having a very positive impact on the world.” — Robin Rath

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Robin Rath, Co-Founder & CEO at Pixel Press. Pixel Press is building the next generation of creation tools for kids to create, share, and play video game-based content by leveraging the integrated power of toys and video games. Robin was recognized as one of Business Journal’s “Upstart 100” in 2015, named “Inventor of the Year” by the St. Louis Bar Association in 2016, and was the St. Louis University’s 2017 Center for Entrepreneurship’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”. He is also a member of Pipeline Entrepreneur’s 2018 Fellowship Class. He joins Tyler and Michael today to talk about bringing his childhood pastime of designing video games on paper to life, the power of technology to amplify storytelling, and the importance of early education exposure to STEM concepts and processes.

They discuss:

  • Pixel Press was founded based off a childhood pastime; designing and drawing video games out on paper
  • Starting out with a Kickstarter and an idea — Using optical character recognition to instantly convert a drawing into a game
  • Bringing ideas to life through the storytelling power of videogames
  • Bloxel, Pixel Press’ marquee product, uses colored blocks to build games, rather than drawings or code
  • Telling stories with Bloxel EDU
  • Michael’s son enjoys playing with Bloxel in school
  • The positive and negative impacts of video games
  • The importance of exposing kids to STEM ideas, processes, and experiences early on
  • Telling stories comes before learning code
  • Bloxels grew out of kids wanting to build their own characters, and Pixel Press wanting to bring color into the process
  • Bloxel’s ability to stimulate kinesthetic and spatial learning
  • YouTube’s staying power
  • How Pixel Press, and the kids who play with Bloxels, use YouTube
  • The growing pains from startup to mature company; the power of tightening your company’s focus
  • Transitioning from being an R&D company to being a sales company
  • Moving into education as their primary target audience
  • The power of communication, and the power of technology to amplify our stories