The way Scott Iseri sees it, kids and parents have long been shortchanged by educational software.
Iseri, the founder of The Digits, an interactive game app that teaches math to children on tablets, said most previous efforts have been woefully off the mark.
"There is a big problem when it comes to educational content for kids," Iseri said. "Once you're too old for 'Sesame Street,' there's not too much out there for them. They can have fun with Angry Birds, but it doesn't necessarily teach them anything."
The Digits will be one of five finalists competing for a $205,000 private equity investment at the third-annual Southern Oregon Angel Conference Thursday at Bigham Knoll Event Center in Jacksonville. The other four finalists, making their pitch to angel investors and interested onlookers are:
Iseri, whose firm is in the St. Johns section of Portland, has a core team of six, but has an overall production cast and crew of 30 actors, camera operators, software developers, game designers and a teacher.
"We're one of the few educational game makers that actually have a teacher on staff," Iseri said, referring to Maryann Smith, an elementary teacher with more than 20 years experience in the Salem-Keizer School District.
The Digits is a fractions-based app that advances along with its user.
Iseri developed the concept a couple of years ago while observing his nine nephews and nieces interacting with different forms of media.
"I thought they needed something that would talk back to them," he said. "I started working in earnest on it a year ago."
The initial app was launched in September, containing 40 minutes of video content and 13 games based on fractions.
So far, there are 7,000 users. The app is free on a trial basis, with a parental subscription costing $9.99 and an additional content app going for $2.99. The premium version is available on the Apple and Kindle store sites.
"The parent version comes with updates to tell them what their child is learning, and most important, to help them talk with them about what they are learning in a practical and relevant way," he said.
A second app, working with pre-algebra levels, is scheduled to come out in time for school next fall.
The company is generating revenue, which should work to its advantage.
"One selling point is that there are multiple revenue streams for this kind of business," he said. "This will allow us to start working on the ones where we haven't fully taken advantage."
If The Digits win the investment prize, Iseri said it would allow the company to shift gears.
"It would let us put back-burner projects on the front burner," he said. "It would help us meet our second app deadlines and work on marketing and outreach. With any new product, the challenge is getting the word out and letting people you know exist."
Five local finalists also will be seeking an $11,000 Concept Grant for business proposals that are still in the idea stage. They are: ThanksVideo, CargoNav, Institute for Sustainable Living, Sarah Evans Creations and Joma Films.