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Osmo CEO Pramod Sharma interview



Osmo co-founders Pramod
Sharma and Jerome Scholler with their


  • Pramod Sharma worked at Google in Sunnyvale, California and
    noticed when he dropped off his daughter at the company’s daycare
    facility, there were no tech products allowed. 
  • Sharma and his co-founder Jerome Scholler created Osmo in
    2013 to create a positive and educational screen time experience
    for kids. 
  • Osmo’s magic lies in its proprietary hardware piece that
    snaps onto a tablet, using mirrors to connect the movements a
    child makes on a physical game board with animations on the
  • Osmo has raised over $38 million, has more than 60 employees,
    and can be found in a half-million households

Circa 2012, Pramod Sharma was working on a Google project to scan
physical books and put them on the internet.

Like many at Google, Sharma would drop off his daughter each
morning at the company’s on-campus daycare facilities. Over time,
he recognized something both ironic and worrisome.

There were no tech products in the room. 

“They were very proud of their wooden blocks from
Germany,” Sharma told Business Insider in a recent

However, he knew how much his daughter loved any screen that was
put in front of her, and thought there had to be room for a
positive piece of technology in her life. With his experience
combining the analog and digital worlds for Google Books, ideas
started to bubble up. And so, in 2013, Osmo was born— with the
help of his co-founder and fellow Googler, Jerome

The big idea: A proprietary hardware accessory that snaps
onto any iPad, using mirrors to connect the movements a child
makes on a physical game board with animations on the tablet’s
screen. Osmo recently added certain games to be compatible with
Android and Amazon Fire tablets as well. 

Five years later, the Osmo device can be found in 30,000 schools
and a half-million households worldwide. The company has raised
over $38 million, has more than 60 employees, and last week
announced the release of its 14th game, “Detective
Agency” — inspired by the popular 90s board game,
“Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” 

Osmo’s games are geared towards children between the ages of
three and nine and can range in price from $19 to $100. The
hardware piece for tablets costs $29.  Osmo, the
company, has raised over $38 million in venture capital
financing, and has more than 60 employees

latest game, “Detective Agency”


Time well spent

Osmo’s magic lies in the strength of its games, says Sharma

One game called “Monsters” prompts kids to draw objects (like a
magic wand), and once their drawing is complete, a replica
appears on the screen being used by the animated
monster. Another, called “Coding Awbie” — which the company
says is “easiest way to introduce coding to your child” — allows
kids to create commands for their on-screen character by snapping
different combinations of blocks together. 

Sharma says he understands the hesitation of parents, especially
parents in Silicon Valley, to expose their children to too much
screen time. 

“At a young age, you don’t want to make them addicted to media,”
Sharma tells us. “If I’m a three-year-old and someone gives me a
choice between Coke or milk, I’ll drink Coke all day long.
Children don’t have that differentiation of what’s good for

Active screen time

But Sharma argues that not all screen time is equal. He tells us
there’s a difference between passive screen time (where a child
is merely sitting in front of a screen, watching) and active
screen time (where a child is called to engage). 

Omso prides itself on creating active screen time for

“At Osmo, everything has to be active. You have to engage,
otherwise there’s no experience,” Sharma explains. “A screen
doesn’t change unless you do something — that’s a very
fundamental thing. By design, Osmo makes you do things.” 

Osmo — which Sharma describes as a “child’s first console” — also
considers the length of time children spend on a game in a single
sitting. It tries to limits each session to around 30
minutes. Internally, he explains, the company is less
concerned with “time spent” as a metric to determine a game’s
effectiveness and more interested in “puzzles solved.”

The future of Osmo

In the future, Osmo wants to allow for a more personalized
experience for children, recommending games for them based on
areas of learning where they could use improvements. 

“My daughter is in 4th grade, and I actually don’t know what her
weak points are,” Sharma tells us. He imagines most parents feel
the same way and believes Osmo is the perfect platform to

As a first-time CEO, Sharma tells us that the hardest and most
exciting part of his job thus far has been learning how to be a

“We are a very diverse team and leading them has been an
interesting experience,” he says. “You can lead engineers, you
can lead designers, you can lead business people, but leading
them all — it’s always challenging for anyone starting a

Sharma says his favorite moment thus far leading Osmo came with
the launch of its latest game. 

“‘[Detective Agency]’ is the first product where I had zero
contributions,” Sharma told us. “That is the most rewarding part
because you can build a system where people can innovate, and
good ideas can come up. That to me is extremely

As for getting Osmo into Google’s daycare center, Sharma says
that may be possible now with the release of “Detective Agency” —
the company’s first game compatible with Android. 

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