Tio – Peter Spence (Co-Founder)
Peter Spence’s Tio device challenges the next generation of inventors with a new creative way of helping children learn and play at the same time.
The Tio kit can quickly build app-controlled toys and inventions with everyday objects and materials – It uses a free iOS/Android app to communicate wirelessly with the invention.
Peter’s childhood playtime of making and building toys, with his grandfather, inspired Tio and it is now his reality with the help of his co-founders.
“We wanted to make technology accessible to all”
“Our goal is for children to feel that they can create and become anything they want to. This is particularly important to us as we all had inspiring mentors who pushed us to pursue our ideas.
My father owned an e-learning business in the early days of the internet and we were all encouraged by our parents to pursue the entrepreneurial route.
As a child, I was always making and building toys with my grandpa. I vividly remember a wooden racing car that I built and the urge to get it moving and racing like a real car.
However, the main challenge was that the wheels only turned with a little help from gravity. This then got me thinking – What if I was able to make anything move? What if there was a magical engine to do that?
Fast forward 20 years and following an engineering degree, I set out to invent my dream toy to be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
I love the process of creating, exploring materials, testing ideas and seeing the imagination emerge into a tangible invention. My passion naturally evolved into the goal of transforming one of my ideas into a product to launch into the real world.
The Tio kit allows anyone to create app-controlled toys and inventions with everyday objects and materials like recycled and craft materials, Lego, old toys, gadgets and even 3D prints.
It explores the objects and materials around you to inspire an infinite number of creations, from a flapping butterfly to a moving castle bridge and from a craft lighthouse to a rotating UFO.
Tio is quick and easy to use that even a three year old can play with it – Your imagination is the only limit.
The Tio kit includes motorised building blocks with built-in LEDs, magnetic mounts, sticky tabs, colourful wheels, interchangeable accessories, stickers and a personalised storybook.
It comes with nine pop and fold invention templates to get started before exploring different materials.
The storybook is full of friendly characters who introduce you to imaginary worlds and guide you through your first creations in simple steps.
The free iOS/Android app communicates wirelessly with your creations to customise and program them. It controls many features like motor speed and direction as well as LED colours, rotation and patterns.
With simple taps on the app, the programming mode allows creators to record and play back live actions including colour patterns and movements. Coding is possible but not required to make it accessible to all.
We are all interested in technology and its application to different fields. We want to make technology accessible to all in a way that resonates with the end user. In particular, children who want to build toys that are unique to them and set them apart from others.
On the other hand, parents and teachers can also help develop children’s cognitive and physical skills whilst having fun.
This entrepreneurial journey has been a positive roller coaster for me and has strengthen the whole team, both personally and professionally.
It has been a continuous learning experience for us and we’ve approached it with plenty of enthusiasm despite the limited resources.
We wanted to invent a product that combines the feeling of creating with your hands, the power of today’s technology and the ease of use of traditional toys.
There were many challenges but we feel that by constantly communicating, respecting each other’s opinions and pushing our know limits, we were able to overcome them.
Seeing the great response that we receive from people, when they use Tio, and being able to share our story with others gives us additional energy.
We want to keep inspiring younger and older generations with our products. We envisage Tio to have a line of products aimed at different end users as well as extending the existing product capabilities to cater to other sectors.
Our main advice, to other entrepreneurs, can be summarised in a quote by Catherine Cook, co-founder of ‘MyYearbook‘ – ‘If you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it’ – Be confident, patient and tenacious.”