As a young entrepreneur years ago, I found this interview with Julie Aigner-Clark (founder of Baby Einstein, who sold her $20 million enterprise to Disney in 2001) to be pretty inspiring, but it's turned funny in light of last week's news about the big Baby Einstein refund — what The New York Times says is "a tacit admission that [Baby Einstein products] did not increase infant intellect." No kidding. Here's a bit of that old Aigner-Clark interview:
"I didn't have a video background, but my husband and I borrowed video equipment and started to shoot scenes on a tabletop in my basement. I put a puppet on my hand and plopped my cat down in front of the camera. My husband and I used our home computer to edit our first video… Everything I did in the first videos was based on my experience as a mom. I didn't do any research. I knew my baby. I knew what she liked to look at. I assumed that what my baby liked to look at, most other babies would, too."
It's pretty clear that Baby Einstein was not rooted in cognitive research as they had boldly claimed and many parents believed. Worse yet, scientists at the University of Washington concluded that these videos actually hindered language development in infants. Lucky for me, I came across the interview before I my daughter was born so every time a friend offered us hand-me-down Baby Einstein products, I would immediately picture this woman wagging puppets in front of a Handycam in her basement and would politely decline.