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Former Angry Bird alumnus turns learning into a fun experience

Angry Bird alumnus Peter Vesterbacka attempts to transform dull subjects into a fun gaming experience

Peter Vesterbacka, co-founder of Lightneer shares his experiences of founding startups and the process it takes to incubate new ideas at Computex.

Peter Vesterbacka, co-founder of Lightneer shares his experiences of founding startups and the process it takes to incubate new ideas at Computex. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—Peter Vesterbacka, the former brand ambassador and “Mighty Eagle” of “Angry Birds” has gone on to co-found Finland-based Lightneer, a company which gamifies educational material into downloadable smartphone app that makes learning an enjoyable experience for youngsters in school.

The co-founder of Lightneer claimed to follow the "Three E" principle: education, entrepreneurship and entertainment at the Computex “Innovations and Startups” forum on Thursday.

“The education market is the second biggest in the world, with an estimated worth of US$6.3 trillion,” said Vesterbacka.

Even at a 50 percent discount, the market would be somewhere near US$3 trillion, in which Lightneer is aiming to take at least a 10-percent market share worth US$300 million.

The company has teamed up with leading scientists and with the University of Helsinki to ensure content in their education learning app is up to date and accurate.

Instead of learning particle physics or the periodic table through memorization, Lightneer's smartphone app, Big Bang Legends, transforms the mundane task of remembering the periodic table into a gaming experience for children.

Elements such as hydrogen and helium are personified into animated cartoon characters, and the method has been put to test in Finnish schools.

“We let children play with the app for 15 minutes in a school, and then took it away from them,” said Vesterbacka. “We then asked the children if they learned anything.”

At first, children denied learning anything, but when asked about the elements in the periodic table, the children were able to accurately identify three out of five elements and their related properties, such as the number of protons for each element, said Vesterbacka.

For Vesterbacka, gamification of education can be a more efficient way of learning for children, and the company aims to further develop apps to convert traditionally difficult science courses such as biology, quantum physics, molecule science into more creative gaming experiences that can spark genuine interest in students to study these hard subjects.

“I hope one day the Nobel Prize of Physics winner will say he became interested in studying physics because of playing Big Bang Legends,” added Vesterbacka.

He also went on to highlight the Asian style of education, particularly in Taiwan where children often attend school and cram school for long hours, killing off intuition and innovation.

Later when these children try to launch their own startups as adults they are often searching for a “manual” that teaches them how to do it, but there is no such thing for startups, he explained.

What is most crucial in startups is the ability to solve problems.

Vesterbacka used his experience at Rovio as an example, demystifying a lot of assumptions media have made about the company's overnight success with the hit game “Angry Birds.”

Having worked on Rovio’s branding strategy for six years, it took the company founded in 2003, 51 games before launching the popular smartphone game app “Angry Birds.”

The gaming app slowly gained a following in Finland, with Rovio team members asking family and friends to download the App before it gradually topped Apple’s App Store charts in the country.

Angry Birds then became highly popular in neighboring Sweden, before Apple’s App Store editors in the UK took notice, and listed it as a top recommended game in the local App Store.

He encouraged fellow startup founders to be ambitious and do things differently, once the initial goal was reached it became easier to duplicate the successful experience.

“In Finland, everyone walks on water,” remarked Vesterbacka. Temperatures drop below zero degree Celsius in Finland during the winter, causing the rivers to freeze over, but the expression was mostly used by Vesterbacka to explain Finnish people believed anything is possible.

“You can do anything,” said Vesterbacka. “Three young guys and three young students created a game that became the biggest brand in the planet. Absolutely no reason you cannot do it in Taipei.”

Updated : 2021-05-07 05:13 GMT+08:00