The culmination of a 10-year journey…
At the heart of TeachTown is the story of an authentic beginning with one clear mission, to help children with autism and special needs.
Co-Founder, Dan Feshbach, a successful entrepreneur and nationally recognized figure in mortgage information and analytics, and his wife Lisa, were raising their son with autism, Reed. At age 3, Reed, who was practically non-verbal, was showing great interest in animated storybooks and his appetite for new animated stories was growing. In the spring of 2000 Lisa attended an Autism conference of technology and was told about an animated tutor created by Dom Massaro, a Research Professor of Psychology and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His presentation was an epiphany for Lisa and Dan. This aligned with their vision of how to deliver engaging animated stories that teach language and communication skills, which is a fundamental deficit of children with autism. So Dan began to pursue Dom Massaro to make this vision a reality. Together they formed a company called Animated Speech Corporation. They won several competitive grants from NIH and NSF to help fund the building of prototype products and received the backing of a group at the Sierra Angels, Kieretsu Forum and other independent angels.
Dr. Chris Whalen PhD, along with Lars Liden, Eric Dallaire, and Sven Liden founded TeachTown in 2003. Chris was the Founder and Chief Science Officer, and had come up with the idea for an autism software company while she was working at the University of Washington Autism Center. Dr. Chris Whalen PhD is a licensed psychologist in the state of California and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst specializing in autism and related disorders. Dr. Lars Liden had been a researcher in the field of Cognitive and Neural Systems and Artificial Intelligence, in addition to his extensive experience in software development and technology management. Eric Dallaire had many successful titles in the market as a video game writer, designer and producer. And Sven Liden had been an executive in multiple wireless and software firms. TeachTown received financial backing from the prestigious Washington Research Foundation, a business incubator in Seattle, and a group of influential Seattle based angel investors, some of whom had children with autism.
As TeachTown grew, the company kept close to its users through countless personal visits, school district forums and special education conferences. TeachTown expanded not only its professional staff but also its relationships with leading special education experts. Along the way, the company won highly competitive grants from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to expand its product-based research underpinnings. As a result, TeachTown received the prestigious Tibbetts Award, given to only 3% of grantees, for its educational collaborations and the impact of its technological innovation.
In 2006, TeachTown merged with Animated Speech Corporation and Dan Feshbach became their largest investor and CEO.
Fast forward to 2009, and the missing link to this entrepreneurial triumvirate is introduced when Terry Thoren discovers TeachTown. As an animation storyteller and media powerhouse, Thoren helped bring the Rugrats to global blockbuster prominence during his 12-year tenure as CEO of Klasky Csupo. He left Klasky Csupo with the vision to build a legacy business using his animation experience. His goal was to build an immersive world on the Internet to engage children emotionally, and educate them through animated games and cartoon rewards. He knew that going into the education system, effecting change and providing hope for children and their families would hit the bull's-eye of his lifelong vision for positively impacting children. Along this impassioned journey, Terry met Dan Feshbach, and an inevitable partnership developed.
Each of the three companies excelled in their respective areas of business. TeachTown and Animated Speech were exemplary in autism expertise, curriculum, language learning and technology, and Terry Thoren and his animation team marveled with storytelling and character development. Their combined talents have created an exceptional business that develops cutting edge world-class educational software and curriculum. With this new partnership secured, the newly merged company possesses the background, skills, and expertise to develop industry leading software intervention for children. Terry Thoren now leads TeachTown, Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chris Whalen is Chief Science Officer and Dan Feshbach serves as Chairman of the Board.
In June 2010, the Contrarian Group, an investment management firm based in Newport Beach, California, invested in TeachTown, Inc. Peter Ueberroth is the Managing Director of the Contrarian Group, which provides investment capital and management support to early stage companies in the services, sports, lodging, travel and selected technology fields.
TeachTown draws its greatest inspiration from the stories that customers provide to us about children whose lives are changed with the help of TeachTown: Basics. Please don't hesitate to reach out to our team with your suggestions and experiences. It is our privilege to create products for the children in your life.