Fuhu is growing by leaps and bounds, but it hasn’t changed Jim Mitchell and his commitment to serve his core customers

Find your balance

In this day and age, it’s harder than ever to get a handle on what your customers are looking for, no matter what industry you’re in. Consumer preferences change fast and it takes effort to keep up.

But what about children, who generally have an even shorter attention span. How do you keep up with their needs and expectations?

“We spend a lot of time trying to get the right ways for kids to learn, especially in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and do it in a way that is fun for them,” Mitchell says.
Fuhu tries to keep up with the needs of its customers by creating a product that evolves and adapts based on what its users need.

“There are certain levels they are supposed to be at in certain grades,” Mitchell says. “But all the kids are not at the same levels. So we want to make sure it adjusts based on what proficiency they have.”

Fuhu designed its product with a Chore List function. When you put the nabi in Mommy/Daddy mode, you can track chores that you have given to your children and when they have been completed, you can reward them with nabi Coins, which allow them to purchase virtual goods such as apps, games and music.

“Every parent is different,” Mitchell says. “We make sure there is parental control. The parents can go in and say, ‘OK, you can only play games for a little while. Then you have to do education.’ Or, ‘You have to do educational games for a certain time, but then you have to go outside and play.’ So we make sure it’s something a parent can adjust as the child grows older and as their parenting responsibilities shift.”

It takes a lot of work to become No. 1 in anything and Mitchell and Fujioka have invested a lot of time and energy to get Fuhu where it is today. But just as they talk about the importance of kids putting down their tablet to go out and play, Mitchell and his partner must seek balance as well.

“Without a doubt, when you’re starting a new company, it takes a lot of time and dedication,” Mitchell says. “You have to set priorities. For me, it’s the weekends. My weekends are with my kids and with my wife and that’s that. During the week, I work with everyone at work and I work hard. But everyone has to find their own balance. You might have short-term hurdles or short-term goals that you are achieving, but at the end of the day, it’s a long-term commitment. You have to have that balance or you’ll burn yourself out.”

Mitchell is fortunate to have found a strong partner in Fujioka to help him find his balance and make the most of his time at work.

“When I left Accenture, I needed to learn quite a bit about what it meant to be an entrepreneur and what it meant to watch what was going on on the playing field, and then get out of the stands and direct what’s going on and do the things that you have to do,” Mitchell says. “I was fortunate to have a partner who had been an entrepreneur all his life, with probably five to 10 different companies and who had the patience to teach me what it really means to be an entrepreneur.”

True entrepreneurs must be prepared to make a long-term commitment to the goals they want to achieve.

“You are building something that wasn’t there before and wouldn’t be there if you had not come along and created it,” Mitchell says. “It’s not like you’re climbing a corporate ladder that someone sets in front of you. There are going to be a ton of things every day that can shake you and can challenge you. That’s what builds the passion behind people wanting to run their own business. If you are going to do that, you need to focus on the long term. It’s a long race, but a fantastic race.”

Takeaways:

  • Get inside the mind of your customer.
  • Don’t assume everyone is the same.
  • Strive to find balance in your work.