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Ami: Plush Smart Toy

January 16, 2018

The Ami team is a group of high schoolers who met at LaunchX in summer 2017. They come from a diverse background, each having skills in fields such as marketing, app development, and design. They came together around a passion for solving a real problem with the best solution, which started with trying to find a means to help parents get their kids to take medicine more easily. After their first mock board meeting, they realized that they had gotten too focused on the specifics of delivering the medicine, and not enough on the bigger frustration of parents behind this issue. As they took a step back and assessed the challenges facing parents in getting their kids to take medicine, they realized a much bigger problem to solve.

Ami aims to “keep kids healthy and happy in a place where love never ends.” Ami’s pilot product is Penny the Penguin, a smart plush that can speak parent-crafted messages through an app-controllable bluetooth speaker. For kids, Penny is a fuzzy best friend that they can listen to and follow. For parents, Penny bridges the communication gap between children and parents and makes it easier for parents to instill healthy habits in their kids.

Penny the Penguin plush smart toy by the Ami team

More About the Ami Product:

When connected to the Ami app, parents can choose from a curated list of pre-recorded messages like “Dinner’s ready. Wash your hands before you eat!” Have something to say that’s not on our list? Simply customize your own message using the text-to-speech box. This way, you know exactly what Penny is saying to your kids. If you are busy, simply set up a reminder to be played at a certain time so your kids don’t forget to brush their teeth before going to bed!

Social Impact:

For every five Penny the Penguins sold, the team donates one to a child fighting autism.

Startup Traction:

  • Pilots and prototyping—The team developed a plush and played messages to 24 children at MIT Daycare Center and noted both parents’ and children’s reactions to the product. Of the 35 parents interviewed, almost all requested pre-orders. Many more pre-orders have taken place through the company website.
  • The first version of the accompanying app is available on the App Store.
  • Press:
    • Appeared on StartUpTVBoston, a Boston-based TV Show that features aspiring entrepreneurs and their companies.
    • Featured on Launched! blog
    • Featured on LEO magazine
    • Competed at #builtbygirls challenge
  • Manufacturing—The team is now working with a toy manufacturer in China.

Ami Team:

  • Izzy Kim, webmaster—Previous experience in software development and web development
  • Navami Jain, business management and marketing—Previously founded “Safe-drives” and “SheTeach”
  • Peter Zhong, technology—Previously founded “EmpowerTech” which focuses on improving disabled through affordable technology
  • Alexander Lam, finance and operations—Previously founded “Lay Up Your Dreams” which teaches kids basketball
  • Yvonne Hong, production—Previously founded NGO “Students’ Health and Environment Protection Organization” and founded “Serve the City,” Freiburg branch

Check out Alexander Lam’s feature on StartupTV Boston:


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