Remember what it was like to be a kid? To have an expansive sense of wonder and infinite curiosity? As a father of two boys and the founder of Tinybop—the startup behind lauded educational apps like The Human Body—Raul Gutierrez thinks about childhood often. He’s always disliked the tight narratives prescribed by many toys, and aims with Tinybop to build apps that cultivate kids’ imaginations through vivid and interactive digital worlds, rooted in real life. In Plants, for example, there’s a forest diorama and kids can control the sunrise and change of seasons.
To Raul, the goal of imaginative play isn’t to answer questions, but to raise them; to pique a child’s interest and start a conversation so that real learning can occur. But maintaining a child’s outlook on the world requires concerted effort. Every night, he and his children have “question time,” an open forum where they ask and answer each others’ questions. During daytime, they play “I never noticed” on otherwise familiar streets around their Brooklyn home.
Another antidote to the rigid adult mind? Getting uncomfortable. While Raul enjoys traveling and getting lost in new cities, he knows that using a new set of tools or taking a different route to the office works just as well. It’s variegated perspectives that keep creativity fresh, so why not change up your usual routine and let your inner child play? Who knows how that might affect your entire day.
Interviewed by Alexis Cheung