Huffpost Technology
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Women 2.0 Headshot

Mom Entrepreneurs: The Talented Women Behind the Leading Children's App Developer

Posted: Updated:


Duck Duck Moose co-founder Caroline Hu Flexer (pictured, right) was a product manager with a background in design and business. Prior to Duck Duck Moose, Caroline worked as a design consultant at IDEO, and as a product manager of Quicken and QuickBooks software at Intuit.

In college, she was interested in architecture, earning an AB in Architecture summa cum laude from Princeton. Then she attended the Master in Architecture program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Years later, she went back to school to earn an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Here is Caroline's story of starting up her educational iPad app company:

"The idea to create high-quality, intuitive apps for children was conceived when I saw my two-year-old daughter interacting with our new iPhones. It was a testament to the power of well-designed interactive experiences that even young children could figure out how to use the device. It was clear that the touch screen enabled children to interact with technology in a completely new way and it dawned on me that this new device afforded incredible potential for learning.

With the AppStore still in its nascency, there were no high-quality educational apps specifically designed for children. To rectify that, my husband, Michael Flexer, our friend, Nicci Gabriel, and I founded Duck Duck Moose. We have a broad range of skills that allow each of us to approach product design from a different perspective. More importantly, we put a premium on education for our kids and wanted to create apps that we'd be happy to have our own kids use.

Since we started the company in 2008, we've created 14 apps that have all won Parents' Choice Awards, been ranked #1-5 on iTunes paid apps lists, and we've had 2.5 million paid downloads. As we scale the company, we are looking to hire extremely bright, talented people who share our passion for education so that we can continue to grow and develop extraordinary apps that delight, engage and teach children in ways we have yet to imagine.

Her co-founder Nicci Gabriel (pictured, left)has always been passionate about design and technology. She feels fortunate to work in an industry that satisfies both interests. Nicci holds a Masters in Design from the School of Visual Arts in NYC where she studied under designers such as Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister and Steven Heller. She has worked on projects for The Art Center College of Design, M&Co, ID Magazine, Microsoft and Seagate among others.

When approached by a friend about creating educational and interactive children's apps, she jumped at the opportunity to do something in the children's space. At the time, she was designing interfaces for desktop, mobile and web applications. But after meeting her future co-founders, she knew they would make a great team and made the leap from employed to entrepreneur, becoming a co-founder at Duck Duck Moose!

Here is Nicci's story:

"Initially, friends were skeptical. This was back when we were spending more time polishing fingerprints off iPhones than actually using them -- no one thought about giving iPhones to kids.

I remember going out to dinner with my husband two years later and seeing every child playing on an iPhone -- most of them using our apps. It was almost unbelieveable! Our first app, "Wheels on the Bus," was a blast to create so we decided to do more. Fourteen titles later, we are still growing and finding creative ways to engage and educate children on mobile devices.

Startup life is all-consuming, but we built the company around the motto "do right by kids" and believe in a culture of flexibility and autonomy. We try to ensure that we are the first people our kids see when they wake up and the last before they fall asleep, even if it means we're working into the wee hours of the morning.

Nothing can fuel the creation of a good product better than passion. Duck Duck Moose was born out of a passion for technology, education, music and design. We feel fortunate that we have the chance to touch so many children and parents and continue to wake up excited about the potential of what we can do in the future."

The educational children's app company has raised $7 million in venture funding to date from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

From Our Partners