With a dedicated team working towards a common goal, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
It was about three years ago when I realized it was almost impossible to give my daughter Kaylie access to the best of technology. And it wasn’t for lack of trying, but because the status quo was so dismal. When I tried to find kids apps I could trust, I came up empty. When I looked for expert advice on screen time, I found alarmist headlines and screen-shaming. When I wanted to use technology with my daughter, I couldn’t find a single product that was designed for us to enjoy together. So three years ago, I founded Kinzoo and set out to build the future I wanted to see for my children.
When Kaylie first started showing interest in screen time, I looked at all the usual suspects. Facebook Messenger Kids was a no-go—I didn’t want my daughter anywhere near the Facebook business model which relies on extensive data capture and user targeting. Popjam was fun for a minute before I saw the way it promoted social validation—even using bots to pressure Kaylie to find more likes and followers on her posts. I knew there had to be a different way.
Seeing the Opportunity
At the time, I was working as the CEO of a tech company that created Grideo, a B2B tool for private video sharing. When I started in that role, I moved from Calgary to Vancouver ahead of my family, who would be joining me in a few months. While I was separated from my wife and kids, we started using Grideo to stay in touch—and I so looked forward to receiving those pings from my family. I also noticed how much Kaylie loved using the app to stay in touch with her loved ones, and I saw the opportunity: a platform that was built from the ground up for kids and their parents, helping them share experiences and make memories together.
Building a Team Behind a Vision
Like so many things in life, timing played a huge role with Kinzoo. After an all-nighter writing my business plan, I set out to find like-minded people who shared my vision—and the momentum seemed to build naturally. Our first investor was a grandfather who also saw the massive potential for technology to spark family connection. I happened to pitch Kinzoo to him right after he returned from a leadership conference where he met Dr. Renae Beaumont, a child psychologist and tech therapy expert who designed a video game that helps autistic children develop emotional and social intelligence. Dr. Beaumont soon signed on to our advisory board to help us bring our vision to life.
Since then, I’ve been lucky to enlist others to advise us: Björn Jeffery is the co-founder and former CEO of Toca Boca, one of the world’s most-loved kids apps. Darren Laur is a retired staff sergeant known as “The White Hatter,” a sought-after speaker and expert in social media safety and digital literacy. And, Howard Donaldson founded Lunar Owl Consulting after holding executive positions in Disney Interactive, McGraw Hill and Electronic Arts. I’m humbled that these experts in their field see potential in Kinzoo.
This week, we’re launching a new, more robust version of our app. As proud as I am of the product, I take the most pride in the team we’ve built at Kinzoo. We’ve been lucky to attract top talent based on our mission and vision, and it’s truly exciting to work alongside people who share your passion. I believe everyone who’s joined us sees this as more than a job—and that’s reflected in the quality and thoughtfulness of our platform. No one here is chasing viral growth and a quick exit; we’re invested for the long-term to create meaningful technology for families.
We’ve been hard at work building, testing and refining our app, and I’m thrilled to share it with you. We’ve poured our passion into a product that’s built for parents, designed for kids and made for families. Kinzoo was just the seed of an idea three years ago—and it took a lot of work from some very dedicated people to make it a reality. It’s been incredibly rewarding to share Kinzoo with Kaylie and I can’t wait to hear what other families think of our platform. And, I can’t wait to see where our vision takes us next.