PopUp Play wins first place in SXSW pitch contest

Written by Colin Morris
Published on Mar. 14, 2016
PopUp Play wins first place in SXSW pitch contest

Can’t say we didn’t warn you.

was featured on our list of 50 startups to watch this year, and yesterday they beat more than 40 other finalists in the SXSW business pitch contest.

“It was a big win last night,” said founder Bryan Thomas. “I'm real pleased. You don’t get to hear your name called at awards shows that often.”

The startup, whose iPad app lets kids customize fiberboard playsets from various templates, also received $4,000 as part of the first place prize. PopUp Play reported a $120,000 investment from Techstars on March 7, when it joined the accelerator’s latest Austin cohort.

Thomas founded PopUp Play with his wife, Amelia Cosgrove. The couple wanted to connect the digital toys of today with the pillow forts of their past. They combined their backgrounds in solar tech and engineering to create the company’s first product, a four-and-a-half-foot castle playset.

They showed off their newest playset template, a rocket ship, this weekend at SX Create.

Later this year, the startup plans to unveil a submarine with a companion iPad app that serves as a virtual periscope, complete with underwater scenes and an educational game that teaches children to identify sea creatures.

The company also has plans for a pirate ship, as well as strategic partnerships with international brands.

“They’re interested in leveraging our tech to enable kids to engage in ways they couldn’t as little makers,” Thomas said.


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