Caroline Ingeborn, the president and chief operating officer of kids app maker Toca Boca, is a rare find. Not only is she a mom to 2-year-old daughter Teddie—with another baby on the way—she's also the leader of a major tech company. In a sector dominated primarily by men, Ingeborn is making her mark while balancing motherhood at the same time.
"I am lucky because I’m surrounded by a lot of help and support," Ingeborn tells Mom.me. "Without it, the delicate balance between family and career would never work."
Ingeborn and her Stockholm-based Toca Boca team launched their latest app, "Toca Mystery House," today. It's the company's first app targeted to older kids, ages 6 to 9. With a wide range of apps for even younger kids, Toca Boca has made digital play time fun and accessible. With apps like "Toca Life: School," "Toca Hair Salon" and "Toca Pet Doctor," kids can interact with a diverse group of characters while directing the action themselves, empowering them to tell their own stories.
The working mom talks to Mom.me about leadership, girl power and what sets Toca Boca's new app apart from the others.
What has inspired you most about your work at Toca Boca?
I am particularly excited that we are building innovative, inclusive products designed from the kids perspective. I am hopeful and excited that Toca Boca is challenging the definition of what the "right way" of making successful products for kids is. We are launching a new app, called "Toca Mystery House" (pictured below), which is a little different than other apps we’ve developed. "Toca Mystery House" is designed for kids ages 6 to 9 and explores eerie and spooky themes, but is full of curious, playful and colorful interactions. I’m also, of course, inspired every day by my talented team of colleagues, the amazing products we get to work on, and the wonderful kid testers who we rely on to help ensure that our products will be successful.
As a mom and the leader of a company, how do you make it all work? What sacrifices, if any, have you had to make?
I’d say the biggest sacrifices I’ve had to make are not having as much time for myself and not seeing my friends as much as I used to. I love adventure—we travel a great deal, and we try to bring our daughter along for as much as possible. But being a parent is by far the greatest adventure thus far.
The tech world is generally dominated by men, but the number of women is growing. How do you think we can inspire more women and girls to become leaders in this realm?
It is exceptionally difficult for someone to become something that they can't see. That’s why it’s crucial for women and minorities to be represented in leadership roles in tech, but also in all industries. I also think that the gaming space has a huge opportunity and responsibility when it comes to designing more inclusive products. It’s time we see better representation within apps and games.
How do you promote "girl power" with your daughter?
Growing up in Sweden, especially in the '80s, there was less of a social emphasis on gender segregation, where boys did one thing and girls did another. Everyone was just a child. My overall philosophy is, regardless of gender, to raise confident and happy children who are understanding and respectful of any and all different ways of living. I don't want my children to feel that there are certain expectations on them because of their gender, and I’m hopeful that the media landscape in particular will continue to move in this direction.
What prompted Toca Boca to reach out to older kids with the new "Toca Mystery House" app?
We are excited to be working with this demographic for a few reasons, including that they can handle slightly more advanced content than younger audiences. "Toca Mystery House" encourages kids to explore the unknown and discover what this strange and eerie house has to offer—from experimenting with potion in a laboratory to making musical melodies with a troll head!
We also firmly believe in the power of play, and our mission is to foster a generation of playful people. It quickly became clear that the best target audience with the biggest potential impact are kids entering into the school years; a time when play is being deemphasized all around them. We want to be a refuge for them to be playful, starting with "Toca Mystery House."
Which Toca Boca app is your favorite?
They are all great! I love how kids play with every one of our apps, but in particular, I’m thrilled to see how the "Toca Life" series has become a tool for kids to communicate stories from their everyday lives.
I'm sure many kids imagine themselves working at Toca Boca in the future. What advice would you give those kids about achieving that goal?
The team at Toca Boca is super passionate about the products we make, and our process is equally important — quality is one of our core values. To get really good at something, one needs to spend both passion and time on it. I’d also advise any young person to not be afraid to try different things to discover his or her passion. So many young people think they need to have it all figured out right away. I still don't think I do, and that can be an asset more than anything else.