Amy Todd shares how she created a startup driven by a deeply held purpose of preserving childhood.Download Podcast
Amy Todd, co-founder of Ox Box, had a typical childhood growing up in South Korea. It was characterized by enormous academic pressure and exam-focused learning. She wanted to do something different for those who wanted to teach their children English at an early age, connect with her native country and used Instagram to sit in the playrooms of millions.
"For me, my happiest time was before I started school. That's exactly the age that Ox Box caters for. I want that time for children to remain special."
Amy was born in South Korea and came to England at the age of 13 for her education. Having arrived in England without being able to speak English, despite years of English education in South Korea, she understands the limitations of conventional English teaching programmes in South Korea and indeed many other parts of the world.
Despite the language barriers, Amy achieved top grades at school, including in English Literature and History and went on to read Economics at the London School of Economics (University of London). Amy has spent the last 15 years of her career in finance in KPMG, John Lewis and the Watsons Group.
Amy is currently on the Executive MBA programme at Said Business School (Oxford University) and lives in London with her English (very patient) husband and two gorgeous boys who love Ox Box stories.
Meet Amy Todd, co-founder of Ox Box, a Savvy Women Podcast guest!
"I trained as an accountant, but I always hated numbers. However, that meant that I became very good at translating the numbers into images and stories."
Many people dream of a different career path but have barriers, real or imagined, that prevent access. That said, we often have useful skills from a previous job or occupation that translate very effectively into that dream when the time comes. The rigour, qualification and language of numbers derived from an early career in a BIG 4 accounting firm meant that Amy could take the complexities of the English language and translate it into childsplay.
"If it wasn't for purpose, I wouldn't have gone into an education market. It's a very competitive place with no money! However, as a child of the system in the Far East, I wanted to do something different."
Throughout her early adolescent years, Amy spent up to twenty hours in a school day studying to compete among her peers. She felt this wasn't right and battled with her parents to go to school in England. She didn't have the language, couldn't develop early friendships and still had to sit her A-levels. She wanted to be able to do something to make a tangible difference to those young people coming after her to make a difference to this learning journey. Also, she says that it can be very difficult to come up with ideas all the time to play with young children. Her boxes of educational fun meant that Ox Box does all the work so that parents can just enjoy the experience with their kids.
"I didn't really have any knowledge of social media or this market. However, I just followed my gut. I just wanted to explore what was out there and I started having conversations with my peers."
Amy didn't have a very clear plan or strategic direction. Instead, she followed her gut and asked her market to navigate her through their challenges. From there, she developed ways that she could serve them. Specifically, she purely used Instagram to talk to parents all over her native Korea and her neighbours in the U.K. This implied that she could both conduct market research and actively market on a zero budget. The most important thing for her was is to be her authentic self.
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Check out some Ox Box sample digital books at oxbox.london
Follow Amy on Instagram at @oxboxkorea/