Melbourne startup OurHome gamifies household chores for children

- December 9, 2014 3 MIN READ

For many parents, the home is more a battlefield than the peaceful domicile they dream of where their children obediently do their chores. Some parents spend so much time pestering their children to do their fair share around the house that ‘naggery’ becomes their default language, often inducing the tune-out effect. The end result is usually: exasperated parents. Melbourne-based startup OurHome decided it was time to inject technology and gamification into household chore management so that all parties benefit.

Launched four weeks ago on iOS and Google Play, OurHome is, at its core, a task and chores app with a smart in-built shopping list. Parents enter household tasks that need to be completed, focusing on chores for children but also homework and broader tasks for the family. The app then automatically sets the tasks in order based on desired scheduling. The app also learns how frequently unscheduled tasks are completed so it can order those tasks accordingly.

The app uses a subtle form of gamification to drive motivation without being heavy-handed. Parents can allocate points to tasks for their children, which can be accumulated towards goals or rewards like screen time, family trips or pocket money.

Children and parents each have profiles showing exactly what each person has done along with a House Feed allowing people to like and comment on each other’s activities.

OurHome also offers a smart shopping list that allows the family to add items and see what is needed. The app has a self-learning algorithm which makes purchase suggestions based on items a family might be running low on.

The startup was founded by Melbourne-based tech entrepreneurs Jules Malseed-Harris (CEO) and Oliver May (COO), who also founded Fairshare, a private social network designed to make shared living easier for housemates. The inspiration for creating OurHome stemmed from their strong belief that helping families coordinate what they do and buy will improve family life.

“To achieve this, we need a deep understanding of personal preferences and relationships, which we conceptualised by mapping out a household graph. We’ve been doing this for over 18 months with our first app, Fairshare, which is designed for sharehouses, acting as a way to test and refine our ideas in a small niche market before responding to the significant demand from families for a smart all-in-one family app like OurHome,” says Malseed-Harris. 

He adds that the value in OurHome’s offering lies in its simplicity. The app has been designed to be simple without sacrificing depth in functionality. Anyone from the age of three upwards can use the app with relative ease, according to Malseed-Harris.

“We aim to disrupt the existing chore and task app market by [focusing] our attention on design and usability, and to disrupt the normal chaos of family life by gently encouraging children to make contributions,” says Malseed-Harris.

The app is targeted at families with children over the age of four, in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish speaking countries. Malseed-Harris says that since launching the app globally four weeks ago, the growth has been fast and organic. But to accelerate this growth, the startup will be engaging with ‘mummy bloggers’ and schools, as well as employing traditional PR strategies.

At the moment, the co-founders aren’t too fazed by monetisation, instead focusing on user acquisition. Malseed-Harris says once OurHome has a substantial user base, they’ll consider implementing a revenue model. Likely revenue streams include in-app purchases, subscriptions for premium features or commissions from household product sales.

In 2015, the startup will be heading over the US to raise seed capital. This will help finance the development of additional product features. The startup is also open to the prospect of hiring new talent should the opportunities emerge.

Image: OurHome team. Source: Provided.