Even quality time is not too ‘quality’ these days. Life takes over, and before you know it, keeping in touch with long distance family members becomes a chore. It was during a family Skype session with his mother, who is based in the UK, that Ken Taggart was struck by a light bulb moment.
Every Monday, Taggart has a family Skype session with his mother; and all too often, he finds it difficult to get his son to hang around for even 30 seconds to chat with his grandmother.
But one day, Taggart asked his son to read his homework book to Nan while he did some odd jobs around the house. Afterwards, Taggart’s mother expressed how much she enjoyed the experience, saying that she felt closer to the family and wanted to do it every Monday.
At this point, the penny dropped and Taggart started to send copied images of the his son’s books to his mother so she could read along and discuss the story with her grandson.
The 30 second flash in the pan interactions came to an end. Taggart’s son was spending quality time with grandmother even though she was located on the other side of the globe.
This spawned the birth of Chattykidz, a Sydney-based startup bringing families closer together in a new way. To the untrained eye, the application may just look like a Skype hybrid, but when you look past the fact that you are having a conversation via webcam with another party, you see the platform in a totally different light – it becomes a cutting edge entertaining education platform for young children.
The platform is very simple and easy to use and right now the team are working on building the content – that will be available via the application. There will be a mix of books that children are sent home to read as part of the country’s education curriculum; and Taggart says they will be looking into adding many of our childhood favourites to build out an entertaining library and get kids engaged with reading from a young age.
Based on our conversation, Taggart is passionate about teaching young kids about digital safety; and we see this as an area of opportunity.
“Given the way technology is becoming more and more accessible to kids at a younger age, it is not a matter of whether my children will come across cyber bullying or a situation on the internet that is less than favourable, it is more a matter of when. I want to make sure that we educate children on what to do in those situations and how to handle them in a responsible manner,” says Taggart.
When it comes to monetisation, it’s all about the library of content they are building. Users will be able to buy the content in much the same way that you would pay per video via Netflix or per book on a service like Scribd. Both these models also have a monthly subscription option, and so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar model adopted by the Chattykidz team in the future as they start to gain traction and build their portfolio of content.
Chattykidz was selected into the Telstra-backed muru-D accelerator programme for 2014. Reflecting on the muru-D experience, Taggart says the programme has blown him away in terms of gaining traction and making connections. He has been able to add instrumental members to his team and pitch his idea to the CEO of Telstra.
We believe Chattykidz is a startup to watch this year. Childhood education is ripe for a re-vamp and Chattykidz ties together the digital world whilst keeping it old-school – making sure children still know how to use (and read) their words.