What happens when animated Dibidogs from planet Bonecity meet a Russian mobile app developer in Finland? They start working together to create a tale that may bring many happy endings and new audiences around the world.
The tale started years earlier with a Finnish company named Futurecode, specializing in product and service development consulting. In fact, it started with the children of Futurecode CEO Jim Solatie. During a family road trip to the Grand Canyon they started doodling goofy dogs in their notebook and named these pear-shaped characters Dibidogs. Their father saw potential in them. Could these dogs become a real animated television series?
“I started looking for production partners in China. After an arduous search and numerous meetings, we signed a deal with Chinese high-tech animation studio Blue Arc in 2007. Once we got the popular Finnish author of teen literature, Tuija Lehtinen, on board as chief screenwriter, Dibidogs were on their way to TV. They made their debut in Finnish television in April 2010. The idea of the television series is to welcome kids around the world to participate and contribute their ideas to the program,” says Solatie.
Later that year, Dibidogs also appeared in an interactive book, which children can read using a mobile phone or a web camera and see the animated dogs move, growl and jump onto the reader’s hand. The cute dogs’ adventures now also run on Chinese television, which has multiplied their audience. But Jim Solatie wasn’t about to stop there.
Connected in Helsinki for global success
While Solatie was busy building Dibidogs, the Russian mobile app company Whisper Arts from Smolensk was planning a business trip to Helsinki. The company had been developing mobile applications for mobile store customers all over the world, specializing in educational apps for kids and their parents. The company was collaborating with Helsinki Business Hub to find potential Finnish companies it could meet during its business roadshow in Finland. One of these companies was Futurecode.
“Our collaboration with Whisper Arts started in 2016, thanks to Senior Business Advisor Maria Hartikainen from Helsinki Business Hub, who first introduced us. She has a very good strategic eye and immediately realized that Whisper Arts and Futurecode should work together,” says Jim Solatie.
“Helsinki Business Hub made it possible for us to meet Futurecode and many other companies during our visit and enabled us to learn a lot about Finland and the Finnish way of doing business. After many Skype calls, emails and meetings with Futurecode, we first produced a set of digital Dibidogs stickers for iMessage, available in App Store, in October 2016,” says Technical Director Oleg Demianov from Whisper Arts.
Environmental education apps at the World Expo
The second batch of Dibidogs stickers, a Christmas edition, came out a month later. Now the two companies are working on a series of mobile applications in different languages for Android, iOS and Windows. The educational applications help kids train their memory and learn English with Dibidogs. Futurecode and Whisper Arts are also producing a series of augmented reality Dibidogs magazines, in which kids can play and do tasks with the adorable canine characters.
“Whisper Arts is extremely experienced in launching apps on App Store and Google Play. As Dibidogs now have over 50 million viewers worldwide and Whisper Arts has created apps with more than 17 million downloads, we wanted to combine our strengths to find new audiences around the globe,” Solatie says.
And indeed, the two companies are also working on mobile applications to get children to value the environment, and some of these environmental education applications will be launched during the World Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Dibidogs is also the only Finnish TV production ever sold to Kazakhstan.
“We are really happy to join Finland’s World Expo team, and we hope that kids will love our new mobile apps,” says Solatie.
“The cute Dibidogs characters and Futurecode’s ideas combined with our technologies and experience have all the potential to become a strong international brand,” says Demianov.
Text: Anu Jussila