Founder Spotlight: Kate Peiler
Meet Kate Peiler, our DivInc alumnus featured in our February Founder Spotlight series. Kate is the Founder and CEO of disruptED. She’s on a mission to help shepherd a new immersive age of learning into the hands of educators, parents, and children. She’s passionate about the value it brings to visual learners like herself, who need these types of tools to stay engaged with learning. She has over 20 years of experience running her own video production company, building award winning learning teams, and pioneering AR/VR into marketing and learning campaigns for fortune 500 companies. Her creative and technical skills evolved into interactive storytelling solutions for eLearning, scenario-based and gamification style learning. She has now come full circle and combines these skills to develop and distribute immersive learning tools for disruptED.
Below, she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions about her path to becoming an entrepreneur and CEO.
Tell us about your company.
disruptED brings learning to life! We are an immersive media publishing company creating Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) learning tools for kids, Pre-K-3rd grade. We design creative and inviting content with instructional design integrity at its core. Our products embrace the future of EdTech and the new immersive learning frontier.
What was your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur all my life. From college to career I’ve taken on leadership roles and built high performing teams. I owned my own video production company for 7 years before holding creative leadership positions in the corporate world. When I was introduced to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, my creative spark burned bright and my inner entrepreneur roared back to life. As a visual learner my mind raced with excitement and I saw the future of communication and learning. I set out to sell this technology to my corporate clients. It was a hard sell, as new technologies are always slow to be adopted in the corporate world. However, when I walked into artist Ed Heck’s studio in Brooklyn New York and saw his whimsical world of characters, I knew exactly how this new immersive world and children’s education could be revolutionized. I quit my job and focused my passion on creating immersive learning tools. It’s exciting to be in a new industry, knowing you are building the best team, and just like the cell phone and the internet, creating the foundations for daily use. Most importantly, I get up and live my passion every day.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
Where I have struggled is with software development. Being a non-technical founder working with a new technology, I struggled to ensure disruptED would maintain the educational value while working through the hardware and software limitations of AR and VR. After working with multiple developers and device platforms, the costs piled up and I had to step back briefly to evaluate product design, customer preferences and find team members who could better contribute and execute. This small break allowed me to develop a clear picture of what would work effectively in the software design and meet the needs of our customers.
What was your experience like with DivInc?
DivInc was a game changer for me. I was in NYC trying to get disruptED off the ground and I struggled to find the right people to help with my vision.
My world changed the moment I walked into the first day of DivInc Cohort 2 in Austin. From that day forward I started to build my business in ways I never could have imagined. I was empowered with every workshop, mentor session and pitch practice. For someone who thought they were a good speaker in general, pitching your passion project is a very different experience. I stumbled a lot in those pitch practices. However, the roar of applause I heard on demo day was one of the best experiences of my life. My confidence and creativity amplified as each talented DivInc team member opened their hearts, provided insightful guidance through diverse experiences, and opened doors in a way I have never seen. DivInc had and still has my personal and professional success as their only focus. Each Cohort sets the bar higher and the relationships you build through this accelerator experience will be there for life. It’s so worth it!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?
Ask yourself if you have the passion and grit to push through failures. Failing is a part of the process whether it be as simple as a partnership with that big brand that didn’t come through or a bigger issue where the product still doesn’t work right and the developer disappeared or the investor pulled out at the last minute. It’s during these setbacks that your passion and grit will see you through. Breath through these moments, be prepared to pivot and acknowledge that sometimes you have to let go to find the right path.
What are your goals looking forward?
My goal is to build disruptED into the brand trusted by parents and educators to deliver the best immersive educational experiences.
We are seeking the right Angel investor(s) to champion or goals. Augmented Reality and Virtual reality is a new industry and our investors are the ones who embrace change and see what other investors saw in Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Elon Musk.
What are traits of a good team and company culture?
As a founder your team is the life breath of your company. I’m motivated by my team. They lift me up, push back and pull through every time I need anything. They embrace your vision, sacrifice long hours, and work for little or nothing to build something from nothing with you. I always like to put people in their sweet spot. There are 3 traits I evaluate in a candidate: skill, personality and talent. So many people have skills or a bright personality but I ask questions to get to the heart of their talent. Some people come in shy but the talent behind their work shows great potential and promise. Some people come in with a long list of skills and ideas of exactly what they can do for the company but their actual talent lies in the communication of how those skills and ideas seamlessly integrate into the company vision. disruptED’s company culture is all about joy and empowerment. If we are creating learning products that meet those 2 values then we are succeeding. If our team members are also experiencing joy and empowerment while working and growing together then you can’t ask for anything better than that!