The Inspiration Behind Snorble
Snorble is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Mike Rizkalla. Having gone through the motions of trying to establish a consistent and healthy bedtime routine for his own kids, Max & Emily, Mike realized there had to be something out there that could help with this. After Googling “How to get a toddler to sleep” and receiving 198 million results, Mike discovered there were several sleep aids and trainers on the market. To his dismay, however, none of them seemed to have the holistic approach to bedtime that he was looking for. Convinced that his own son was, in Mike’s words, “an incredibly adorable descendant of Dracula'' and realizing that necessity truly was the mother of invention, Mike went ahead and invented Snorble.
The Engineering Behind Snorble
Building the most advanced sleep trainer and magical bedtime experience turned out to be quite the experience. It began with prototyping what Snorble should even look like and started with over 125 concepts! That was only the beginning though. We soon realized that in order to build all of the features into Snorble, we were going to have to not only decide what our little buddy was going to look like, but how we were going to get him to speak, animate, monitor and provide both soothing lights and magical ceiling projections. Oh yeah—did we mention the mobile app development too, so parents could customize the bedtime routine and receive state-of-the-art reports on their child’s behaviors and habits? Nothing like this had ever been done before.
In order to pull this off, Mike knew he had to assemble a world-class team, and that’s exactly what he did. PhDs in artificial intelligence, child psychologists, animators, programmers who understood gamification, experts in product development, experienced business advisors and even a former Walt Disney Imagineer!
We soon started exploring how everything would interact-form, function, and build. We looked at how colors and sounds affect mood. We looked at the latest LED, audio and projection technologies. We researched what a toddler’s daily routine typically entails. We just got as knee-deep into Snorble as we possibly could. Perhaps most importantly though, we spoke to parents about what their pain points were in developing a nighttime routine—and how Snorble could address those.
After nearly a year of intense and thoughtful research and development, we finally were able to bring Snorble to life. We think it’s more than a sleep trainer…we look at it as more of a partner for you and a companion for your child, and we’re not done yet. You see, creativity is what drives our company and with that in mind, the Snorble ecosystem will always keep evolving. We have lots of exciting plans to explore down the road, from clothing lines, to smart toothbrushes, and even perhaps a children’s morning program starring our loveable Snorbles. Whatever we do though, understand that the one thing that continues to drive our development is you! We’ll always ask ourselves “how can we best serve parents and kids in a responsible, safe, and innovative way?” Hopefully we’ll keep surprising you with the right answers that keep coming to us from the magical world of Lullaboo…
The Team Behind Snorble
"We've formed an amazing team with experts from across industries."
— Mike Rizkalla, CEO and Co-Founder
Co-Founder and CEO
An Award-Winning Creative Leader in the Technology / Robotics industry with experience in organizations ranging from startup to $75M global businesses, with proven performance managing revenue goals up to $10M, operational budgets of up to $16M, and capital expense budgets of up to $2.5M. A capable mentor with a track record of attracting, recruiting, and advising teams.
Co-Founder and CEO
After two decades of building innovative technologies for education, he became the CEO of NRCCUA in 2020.
Previously, Doug served as CEO of Surgarai, Inc., a medical technology startup, and as chief product officer at Knewton, recently acquired by Wiley. Prior to that, Doug spent 17 years at McGraw-Hill Education, in various senior leadership roles including chief sales officer, director of digital partnerships, and executive brand manager.
With a background in computer science, a medical postgrad, numerous company exits, a commercial pilot’s license, and even a few patents, Howard H. Thaw knows no limits. Over his career, he’s founded startups and worked with many others to build or turnaround companies, develop new technologies, resolve conflicts, and serve on public and private boards. Thanks to this, Howard is capable of seeing any situation from take-off to landing.
Engineering and Manufacturing Lead
Steve Hecker has been creating innovative consumer products for over 25 years, and brings strong experience to bear for design, development, manufacturing, and startup company operations. Hecker’s more recent experience has focused on early-stage consumer tech startups, and has been instrumental in successful market introductions for products such as the IoT-enabled infant sleep crib, the SNOO from Happiest Baby.
Since joining R/GA in 2007, Thomas has led the implementation of the award-winning Nike Human Race 2008 and Nike Ballers Network applications. He launched Chanel’s e-commerce platform in 24 countries, and built Bridgestone’s first global cloud implementation, Bridgestone Hub, for managing activations for the Olympics. His most recent work includes Samsung Within, which is a global campaign built in WebGL and spanning 9 chapters, 80 countries, and 24 languages.
Operations and Program Management
Dina is a world-class operations leader and program manager. She has led teams and international initiatives at Hasbro, Scholastic and R/GA. Her book of work includes, but is not limited to, the Transformers, My Little Pony, Nerf, Nike, and Samsung.
Head of Experience
Patrick Wesonga is an accomplished tech professional with almost 15 years of experience delivering experiences across a variety of industries. He combines entrepreneurial hustle, startup grit, and *just* the right amount of corporate sophistication to build remarkable mobile, web, and custom hardware products (often taking them from “zero to 1”).
Dan is an animator from Clifton Springs, Australia. In grade three, he permanently burnt his fingerprint trying to jump start a cassette player. At age 16, he did gymnastics for about a year. He can play All Star on two musical instruments (not at the same time). Living in Halifax since 2012, he loves creating things that put a smile on people's faces, whether that's through animation, music, puppets, or some mashup of other things he can do.
Executive Creative Director
Brian began his fascinating and unique career as a Walt Disney Imagineer, where he helped “create the magic” for Disney’s Florida theme parks before going on to produce work for a who’s-who list of corporations and small entrepreneurial ventures. Later in his career, he developed a deep understanding of new and emerging technologies, and, most importantly, how they apply to business, the military and in learning environments.
Executive Producer – Experiential
Michael-Andreas Kuttner is one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Digital Media industry. Fresh out of university, he founded the pioneering Collideascope Digital Productions, one of Canada’s largest animation and digital media studios, focused primarily on kids’ entertainment. There, M-A went on to collect armloads of awards producing dozens of digital media properties and over 250 episodes of animated TV for international markets.
Chief Educator – Early Childhood Expert
Monica has been an educator for more than 28 years. Prior to being named Principal of the largest primary school in rural South Georgia, she served as Director of Early Learning for the district and, prior to that, as Director of Georgia’s Pre-K Program for the State. Her areas of focus are 0-8 social-emotional development, literacy, instructional technology, and trauma-informed teaching. She continues to inspire, coach, and empower staff to cultivate leadership in others, advocate for children, and continually improve practices.
Head of Public Relations
Michael has created strategies to achieve exposure and brand awareness for clients on an international scale, working in the USA, Japan, Mexico, Australia, China, Tanzania, and across Europe. He promoted the award-winning Global Kilimanjaro Bowl, the first ever game of college American football to be played on the African continent, and has been a member of the NFL PR team at Super Bowl since 1998, working with international media. He began his career as a journalist in his native England, and then as a PR executive with the NFL.
Whether it's creating his own or curating and promoting the work of others, Ryan Patey has dealt professionally with content for nearly two decades. From working with international corporations such as Discovery Networks and Pearson Education to helping non-profits, small businesses, and even a government develop their online presence, Ryan's writing has helped establish brands, entertain audiences, and encourage change around the world.
The Advisors Behind Snorble
"An advisory board built from titans in industry ranging from finance, innovation, education, and child well-being all working together with one mission: to improve the lives or children and their families."
— Mike Rizkalla, CEO and Co-Founder
An experienced high-tech CEO, Steve has led startups and large tech company operations, including Jibo, the world’s first social robot.
An entrepreneur renowned for his pioneering in robotics with the creation of Pleo, the first life-like robot using the LifeOS AI platform.
Former managing director at JPM and the co-founder of Aperture Investors, David is a successful serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in the financial industry.
Michael has overseen educational new media research and technology-rich classrooms and funded laboratories worldwide at Apple’s Advanced Technology Group. He advised Steve Jobs in the early days of Mac and NeXT and earned his PhD at Stanford University.
Heather has worked with young people in residential care for 30 years, most recently as Provincial Director of Key Assets Newfoundland and Labrador, an organization providing residential and family-based care to children and youth. She has a PhD in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria.
Brent is a proven leader in identifying and transforming new opportunities into market success, and he has a wealth of expertise in health tech operations and financing. He was the Senior Business Program Manager for M&A, Integration, Business Development and Technology Scouting at Medtronic.
Tai is focused on developing solutions rooted in smart creative and emerging technologies. In 2018, he was named one of AdAge’s 40 Under 40 for his outstanding work in the areas of broadcast and virtual reality on projects for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
David specializes in investing in companies to provide extensive tools and resources to create and develop strategic partnerships that assist growth, and his company has been recognized as one of the nation’s 5000 fastest growing.
The Sustainability Behind Snorble
Although we expect Snorble® to have a large impact on families, we have taken great measures to ensure that both the production of Snorble and the product itself have a minimal impact on the environment. The following are just some of the steps we are taking and will take to make this happen:
Though it will not be obvious on the outside, we will implement special tools and fastening techniques to allow us to replace old parts with new ones without damaging the product. Efforts such as this allow us to return the product to secondary markets as a refurbished item, which gives Snorble a new lease on life and keeps them out of the landfill. Not only that, it also means Snorble can support even more families through a number of years.
Reusability and Recyclability
We have implemented a number of protocols and standards to ensure Snorble is both easily reused and recycled when necessary. For starters, we specify and use materials that feature a high post-consumer material content in the creation of each Snorble. Along with the efforts we mentioned above to extend Snorble’s lifespan, we have designed our packaging to double as its own useful toy, so that even it doesn't go straight into the trash.When Snorble’s usability is diminished, our efforts to use materials within the same chemical family will help to make recycling Snorble’s parts easier.Finally, we will follow the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.
In regard to the chemicals used in production, we require every supplier we work with to have a fully featured and comprehensive chemical test lab in order to double confirm that there are no unexpected or harmful chemicals in any of the materials we use to build Snorble. We will hold our materials’ supplier to the highest standards, and only purchase materials that can be chemically verified to be pure with no undesired additives.We will follow and/or exceed all Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) regulations, so that no harmful substances are used in the assembly of our products.
All of our manufacturing facilities will be audited before and during production to be sure that all environmental rules are being followed. In fact, if we find that a supplier has failed to meet their pollution control obligations, we will use our influence to bring the supplier into compliance or locate a different supplier.