Curious Hat – Luca Prasso (CEO) Interview

Luca Prasso - Curious Hat CEO Co FounderLuca Prasso

With over 25 years of experience in Computer Graphics and Animated Feature Film production, Luca Prasso brings to Curious Hat the technical and artistic knowledge required to lead the design and development of innovative products. Over the last 17 years, Luca was an integral part of the team that created award-winning films such as ‘Shrek’, ‘Madagascar’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. His technical expertise has led the development of many ingenious innovative technologies and new solutions successfully used in the production of such movies. Luca Prasso is the co-owner of a patent on crowd rendering techniques. Before joining DreamWorks Animation, Luca worked for Softimage, a company leader in 3D animation software.   [hr]

Luca, welcome to Capital Network Magazine. We're looking forward to getting to know you and your company a little better. Will you please share something about yourself that can't be found in your public bio?

I love photography. Nine years ago I wanted to become a documentary photographer. I even got some awards and recognitions but never had the guts to leave the computer graphic world then. I love to travel around the world, working with NGOs and shooting interesting projects. I continue to see a camera as an incredible tool to see the world and be aware of the emotions around me. [hr]

Tell us about your company, your team, and how you got started creating apps?

I've written a few simple apps on my own before Curious Hat, just as a side project. I was always intrigued by the technology and how new generations were interacting with it. I spent 17 years at DreamWorks Animation making movies and designing the technology behind it. Movies always felt like passive experiences for the (young) audience. I see apps as a great platform to create experiences that can combine fun, exploration and learning. [hr]

You have a very impressive resume with a long list of accomplishments. After leaving DreamWorks Animation you could have basically worked anywhere. Why did you decide to spend your time, energy, and resources on educational apps for children?

Becoming a father (I have a 3.5 year-old boy and a 1.5 year-old girl) changed a lot the perspective on things for me. I wanted to create something I would be proud to play with my kids. Something that sparked a conversation with my son, a chance to discover something new in him and something that would stimulate his ingenuity. I see the impact on how my parents raised me, giving me tools to create (from a simple piece of paper and a pencil, a film camera to create stop motion animations, a computer to write code). They gave me open ended tools, not ready made solutions. Erwan and I (and Nadia, the Creative Director) were very passionate since the beginning about the 2 main ideas we design the apps for: engage children with the real world and bring the adults into the experience. [hr]

Describe to us your creative process. How long does it take to bring your ideas to life?

We look at the possibility offered by these devices trying some out-of-the-box approach. We think of these devices in the real world, as companion of the child in their explorations. We imagine how many different things you can do with them as a child when wandering around. The camera for example is such an ubiquitous feature in these devices and observing how a child sees the world through it is mesmerizing. There are so many things you can design around this simple activity. [hr]

In your opinion, what are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Learning from mistakes, iterating often, surrounding yourself with the people you love working with that know more than you do in many areas of expertise.

[hr]

What does your typical day look like?

Check the night email when I wake up. Take the kids to daycare and run to the daily chat with Erwan. More emails, meetings and attempts to design/code something. Pick up the kids at school, quality time with the family and few more hours dedicated to some coding when everybody is asleep. Rinse and repeat! [hr]

What has been your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?

Not iterate fast enough. [hr]

Other than Curious Hat what other companies do you admire the most? Why?

Every company that is not afraid to break rules, to think outside the box, to lead instead of following. [hr]

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

To have the power to distribute happiness, ingenuity and curiosity. [hr]

What's next for you and Curious Hat?

Pushing the envelope in the adult-child experience and finding new ways to be curious. [hr]

Sell all of the parents out there on why we should be interested in Curious Hat.

Because an app (like many other things) can bring a parent and a child closer, engaged in a meaningful conversation and in an exploration that offers new insights in your child's mind. We design tools that stimulate and entertain the child and while making a parent proud of the accomplishments. [hr]

Failure has often a negative connotation around the world except in Silicon Valley. Are you afraid of failure?

I'm not afraid of it. I would have regretted all my life if I didn't push myself to follow this idea and to create this company. We believe in what we are doing, we are aware of the complexities of this market and of the many mistakes we are doing every day. The important thing is to believe in the products you are building with a team of friends and like minded curious dreamers. We don't have the perfect product in mind on day one. It will be the result of the many lessons we'll learn along the way. [hr]

Where are you located?

Headquarters are in San Mateo, California, where Luca Prasso lives. Erwan is in France, the rest of the team is international (Italy, Turkey, Russia, China, Canada...)

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EverGonzalez
Ever Gonzalez

Co-founder & CEO @ Outlier