is on the rise

Despite its early successes, founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso said the company faced a challenging crossroads a year ago.

The Buffalo startup, which offers home-delivered electronic and robotic educational toy kits through a subscription-based business model, had a back order of items and not enough cash to reorder products. They were running out of space in their 200-square-foot office within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Innovation Center, and they needed to hire a committed staff to grow marketing opportunities.

Less than a month after moving into the Pierce Arrow Administration Building on Elmwood Avenue, Pedroso said the company now has 5,000 square feet of space, including a warehouse. And an investment from the Telluride Venture Accelerator has allowed Thimble to grow its staff from two to seven, while launching a new product line this month.

“The transition was not too bad,” Pedroso said about the company’s move. “We really needed the space and it has worked out to be great so far.”

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Last spring, Pedroso told that a successful Kickstarter campaign and a partnership with Launch NY allowed the company to get off the ground. In the spring of 2017, Thimble was recognized by South by Southwest Interactive Festival, and they were accepted into the Telluride Venture Accelerator program.

“The accelerator came at a good time,” Pedroso said. “We were there for four months. We raised a small round, enough to put certain products back into production. And we were able to take some weight off our shoulders by bringing in new hires. That’s been good.

“We were generating sales every month. We just needed a little bit of help on the capital side,” he added.

Pedroso credits the program with an investment that allowed Thimble to add five new employees since the fall. The New York City native and Rochester Institute of Technology graduate said that growing online subscriptions will continue to be the company’s “bread and butter.” And a state contract with the BOCES education system will give them room for growth when they’re ready.

For now, the refurbished Pierce Arrow building, located at 1685 Elmwood Ave., provides about 1,000 square feet of office space, with the rest available for the warehouse.

Pedroso, who co-founded with RIT grad David Brenner, said the company is excited to announce the launch of a new product line that focuses on a younger audience. Uncertainty in the product and questions about the market and business model make finding investors locally a challenge, he added.

“We want to do a better job of getting out there. But we’re doing something people don’t know a lot about. We’re more than just a subscription box company. We’re teaching tech and engineering skills,” Pedroso said.

Read more articles by Joel Lehman.

After spending 15 years in northern Vermont where he worked as managing editor for a daily publication, Western New York native Joel Lehman returned to Buffalo this summer to be part of the city’s renaissance. He lives with his girlfriend and his goldendoodle, Wilson, and he enjoys running, skiing and cooking for his family.
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