Crowdsourcing to instant solutions

A resource for parents of young children and an app for ‘digital natives’ create online communities to bring users pertinent information.

The KiddyUp app (photo credit: PR)
The KiddyUp app
(photo credit: PR)
The two apps featured in today’s column depend to a large degree on crowdsourcing, where information can be shared among groups of people who freely contribute information to a niche audience. Both KiddyUP’s parents of small children and qork’s young adults respond to the need for instant solutions.
An important resource for parents of babies and young children is taking its first steps in providing, in the words of KiddyUP co-founder Zoe Bermant, the Waze for parenting.
Says Bermant, “We created KiddyUP as a one-stop platform to find both products and services that parents of small children use every single day, and to know straightaway if someone is recommending them.”
Bermant met co-founder Charlotte Pickering in childbirth class in the UK, where Bermant had been living until her return to Israel in 2012. “We’d begun to develop Charlotte’s idea for a safety device for a baby carriage, and it was while we were twiddling our thumbs waiting for patent attorneys and industrial designers that we started to thrash out another idea.”
Recalls Bermant, “In all the online forums and Facebook groups where moms hang out, the same questions kept coming up again and again: ‘Where can I get my kid a good haircut? It’s raining – what can I do with my kids today between 2 and 4 p.m.? Where can I get a discount for Legoland?’ You needed to go to the Web to search for the info, then you had to go into Google Maps to see how far away it was and how to get there, and then you’re looking to see if there’s a voucher or a discount.
“We thought we’d create an app that aggregates all that information and makes it easily available – and that’s how KiddyUP was born.”
KiddyUP for iPhone was launched this past April, and the Android version was introduced half a year later. The app currently has about 17,500 users, 12,000 of whom are in the UK and the rest in the US, Israel and Australia. Already in its short life, KiddyUP has won two awards – Bizzi Baby and Mumpreneur UK – and reached the finals in a Google-sponsored entrepreneur program.
The app is currently focused on where parents can take their kids locally to eat, play and change their diaper, but Bermant and Pickering have plans to significantly expand its scope in the future. “Right now, KiddyUP is far from where it’s going,” explains Bermant, comparing KiddyUP’s development to that of Waze – which began with just a basic map on which not all the roads were mapped, and not everyone could get from A to Z.
“Eventually, we’ll be able to tell parents whether a store is selling a certain product cheaper than the one across the road, if the Gymboree is full or empty, or if there is a discount or voucher available for a play venue. KiddyUP will also support a range of services, such as finding a doctor, emergency services or a kindergarten.”
Bermant describes how they took the initiative with businesses and independently integrated those that offered kiddie-related services into the app. And, as their reputation grew and the app’s potential became more apparent, the business sector was given access to a vendor portal through which it could promote parent- related campaigns.
The same method was used with the parents. “Instead of waiting for parents to start using the app, we began to build communities of parents with small children. To date, we’ve launched four communities in the UK and one in Israel, primarily around Jerusalem, Modi’in and Tel Aviv; there’s also a small community in Petah Tikva.”
This proactive approach led Bermant to collaborate with Mumsnet, one of the largest online forums for mothers in the UK, in creating an interactive map of breastfeeding- friendly spots in the UK – after a young mother was asked to leave a sportswear store for breastfeeding her baby. “It was a massive scandal,” she says, explaining how the KiddyUP interactive map is now embedded in the Mumsnet site, populated with thousands of restaurants, park benches and other spots that are rated comfortable and sufficiently private for mothers to breastfeed their babies in peace.
Stay-at-home moms – and dads – can ease their way back into the job market by becoming KiddyUP champions; that is, users who promote KiddyUP to other parents by finding local content, updating the KiddyUP Facebook page (which eventually will feed into the app) and interacting with businesses in the community. It’s a win-win – for the parents, who are rewarded with vouchers, discounts and other freebies by the businesses; which can in turn harness the power of local marketing directly to their target audience.
One way Bermant plans to incentivize parents to use the app is to enable them to earn points every time they use KiddyUP to help other parents – by, for example, sharing information, rating products and services, and commenting. The points can eventually be exchanged at the online Kiosk for anything from a product sample to discounted movie tickets.
“It’s a great way for the businesses to access the tens of thousands of KiddyUP parents,” says Bermant. “They give us a product or service for free, which we then market to the parents. The Kiosk is a foot in the door for businesses to reach their target audience.”
Bermant is particularly excited about a KiddyUP tipat halav (well-baby) pilot clinic set to launch this month in conjunction with the Jerusalem Municipality. She explains, “We’ve created a set of very smart tools to allow parents to manage their appointments at well-baby clinics through our app. In the first phase, the pilot will run in Baka and Kiryat Hayovel, after which we will apply what we have learned before rolling it out to the rest of Jerusalem. Once the infrastructure is in place and we know it’s working, we can then deploy it around the whole country.”
The future of KiddyUP is predicated on parents not having to think about where they can get the information. “Everything they need for their children will be in our app,” says Bermant. New features still to be implemented include filtering information so that parents receive information based on their profile; for example, only mothers of babies would receive information on breastfeeding.
Another innovation is the ability to send a toot, the KiddyUP version of a tweet.
“Let’s say the local pharmacy is offering a discount on a certain brand of diapers,” explains Bermant. “You can then toot all your friends that use that brand.”
“At the moment we’re focused on very young children,” she Bermant. “But as we grow, we’ll expand the app to include family- friendly holidays, how to shop for family- size cars, in fact, anything that can make your life easier and cheaper while raising your family.
“If there’s one thing that people could do to make KiddyUP great, it’s to understand that parents need to help each other out, they need to share. First share your favorite places and your experiences and when the time comes, when there’s an event that is important to you, you will feel the benefit.”
Download KiddyUP from the App Store (for iPhone) or Google Play (Android).
For Web tools for non-smartphone users, visit the website:
Co-founders Ben Goldman, Adam May and Philip Perkins developed qork to give “digital natives” – people around the ages of 14 to 25, who were born into the digital age – the opportunity to connect to their local community."
Despite the almost overwhelming prevalence of social media, Goldman notes that while it’s simple to follow the life of a student in Iran on Twitter, information on what’s happening in your own backyard requires extensive research. “If you want to find an event in your city, you might be able to find it; find out what’s happening in your neighborhood, maybe or maybe not; but what about on your block? “The problem,” he asserts, “is compounded the more granular your research becomes.”
According to Goldman, people tend to connect with other people in their city, but it’s anonymous and generally consists of gossip and jokes – none of which actually benefits anybody. “We see qork as a tool to empower people,” he says. “Digital natives were born into a world that is less financially secure and more chaotic, and they want to change the world and do something worthwhile with their lives.
“Qork is an open toolset that brings communities together so they can become heard in their communities.”
Interjects May, “It’s also the place to find out what’s going on in the neighborhood, start conversations, spread the news and check out where the gang is meeting. We want to embrace the fun aspect of what’s happening, like a concert, party or place to just ask a question – but more than anything, we want qork to be relevant.
“For example, if the local high school is having a football game, you can create a qork for it. People in the stadium can post the score and make comments, and people sitting at home can post qorks cheering on the team. And once you’ve posted your qork, it’s visible to everyone in the area. It creates a real social experience.”
Upon registration – which you can do either through your mobile device or from your desktop – you can see all the qorks that were created in your area. You can upload content to the qork, download from it, share and respond to them.
Says Goldman, “When you open qork, you see a map with dots that show all the qorks in your community. The qorks grow in size in proportion to the popularity of the event, based on the number of comments, photos, etc. The larger the qork, the more people see it and the more likely it will go viral.
“We want to get to a point where people will say, ‘Hey, this is a cool party! Did you qork it?’”
Available for iPhone and Android.
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