Parents We Love: Caryn & Wade Teman of Herotainment
How did Herotainment come to be?
The “a-ha moment” for us was watching our kids gravitate towards playing online and mobile games, and we knew instantly that future brands would be created in the digital space. We also noticed that while our daughters were genuinely entertained by this new form of media, there weren’t many games out there that successfully combined fun and education. As parents, we always want our children to get something out of their experiences. We created Herotainment as a transmedia company with a mission to develop enriching content that is fun, rewarding, and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Who were the superheroes that you both liked growing up, and why?
Caryn: Growing up, there weren’t many leading female superheroes so I’d have say Wonder Woman. She was fearless and strong and had awesome red boots! When creating Herotopia, it was so important to me to have a lead female superhero in Ally Kazaam for girls to admire.
Wade: I grew up watching Superman. He was an everyday person who hid his abilities, but when duty called, he was always there to save the day.
What role do you think superheroes play in a child’s early development?
Every child dreams of being a superhero and having special powers. Our goal is to empower kids to be their own heroes and to realize that they have power to do great things and change the world for the better. So when kids come to the online game of Herotopia, the first thing they do is customize their very own superhero– choosing their hair color and style, eye and skin tones, costumes and capes. We also developed an ensemble of kid heroes called the Herotopia Heroes, whom children interact with in the online game. These superheroes are relatable to kids, something we felt was very important and very unique to our brand.
If you each had to create your own superhero, what would it be like? What special powers would it have?
Caryn: I’d create Blink. This fabulous superheroine could blink her eyes and make anything happen. Imagine how great that power would be when she needs to make dinner and clean the house!
Wade: I would like to be a mashup between Superman and Iron Man. I would take the aspects of Superman being a normal everyday guy with ultimate super powers and combine them with Iron Man’s fun and comedic personality.
How has the company grown over time?
We started Herotainment with the goal to empower kids and create enriching content. Our first game is the award-winning fun and educational online world of Herotopia. Millions of players from over 190 countries are highly engaged with the game and our characters. From Herotopia, we created a brand new set of characters called the Smighties – the small, but mightiest heroes in the universe. The origin of the name, Smighty, came from the idea that although you may be small, you can still be mighty! To date, we have over 100 Smighties and hundreds more in development. People of all ages love these cute creatures, and we get so excited when we receive drawings and ideas for more Smighties from our young fans!
Watching our own kids once again, we realized that mobile was definitely the next media platform for us. We have developed four fun and unique mobile games. We recently launched a multiplayer card game called Mighty Smighties. Also, we are launching two more this spring; Zoom Blocks, a new twist on an endless running game featuring our heroes; and Smighty Sweeper, a puzzle and collection game with our Smighties.
What are plans for Herotainment/Herotopia in the future?
People are engaging with brands on so many platforms today that we are developing our Herotopia Heroes and Smighties for other media forms. We have a partnership with Penguin Books and will be coming out with stories based on our heroes. We’re also developing a full length music album, exploring an animated series, and looking into toys and merchandise based on the Smighties characters.
As a husband and wife team, what is it like working together?
What makes it work for us is that we each bring a different set of skills to our partnership. Caryn’s background is in media development, content, and marketing. Wade’s expertise is in finance and business development. While we both work on almost everything together, we have mutual respect for each other’s talents. That’s not to say we don’t argue. That’s all part of the fun!
Who comes up with the storyline and characters for the game?
Content creation is truly a collaborative process. We start with an idea and work with our lead artist to develop the look and feel of the characters. Our kids and their friends have also helped contribute names, personalities, and powers for our Smighties. Additionally, we love to incorporate ideas from the Herotopia community. We have held Design a Smighty contests and turned kids’ creations into real characters.
What should parents know about Herotopia?
They should know that parents developed the game with their own kids in mind. Herotopia is first and foremost a fun game, but there is also stealth education. Kids can create their own superhero, design a Secret Hideout, and learn about real world cities and cultures. They can play over 25 minigames, go on Missions and Quests, and interact in a safe online experience. Herotopia is wholesome fun, and we are very proud to have received many prestigious awards from earning 5 stars from Common Sense Media to receiving the Academics Choice Award for Smart Media.
What do your kids think of Herotopia?
We have two daughters. Morgan is 14 and Avery is 12. They were, and continue to be, our inspiration in creating our company, Herotainment and our brands. They love the online world of Herotopia and have contributed countless ideas and suggestions. They are our toughest critics and also our biggest advocates.
How do you balance work and family?
Family always comes first. When you have your own company, it is sometimes hard to achieve a perfect balance of work and family. But we feel extremely lucky to be in the family space where our children are so much a part of what we do.