Friday, April 22, 2016

Technology Comes To the Jugglers (a.k.a Working Moms!) Rescue

* By Seow Lim*

It was 5:30pm. I was still in the conference room. It was getting late to pick up my kids. I excused myself, left,  and started to drive, dialing into the conference call. At 6pm, I picked up my son. I greeted him, and tried to get off the call so that I could talk to him. Finally, the call was done, I turned to look at my child, and asked: "How's was school?" He looked bored and said, "Ok".

Do you see yourself in this picture? As a busy high tech working mom of two boys, I constantly juggled family and work. I worked hard so that I could give my kids better lives, at the same time I encouraged them to work hard so they could achieve better academic success. I thought that was the ultimate and only goal.

Two years ago, my son's school counselor told me: "Your kid is really smart, but he is not happy." I had tried so hard to be the best parent. So had I done wrong? I started looking for the solution. I took time off from my high flying career. I made sure I was home at 3pm when the kids got back from school. I started reading all the best selling parenting books, and having more in-depth conversations with my children. I joined many parenting groups online to learn from other parents. I started the Emotional Intelligence for Kids group on Facebook and received much support and many ideas from parents like myself.

After much reflection, armed with all this information, I finally found my solution - parents like me need to connect more often and more thoughtfully with their kids. From this realization, was born Povi. A product that I hope will help me and other parents connect and communicate meaningfully with their children.  I built a team and we first launched the Povi Family Connect app - both on Google Play and App Store. This app sends one thoughtful question, fail to registered parents. Our questions are designed by our developmental psychologist and we soon signed up 1k beta users on our app.

After a few months I approached all our beta users for their feedback. The response was the questions are great but they lacked 'context'.  While analyzing the app data, we also found out that kids were answering the question very differently and in interesting directions. No  wonder parents were telling us that they are learning a lot more about their kids than they did before. From this feedback we knew our app was very useful, but to take it to the next level, we needed to solve the "context" issue. This context would help parents ask the question without having to come up with their own context or background. Context, we decided should be built around stories. Not just normal stories but real life stories that kids experience in their daily lives.

Further, with more feedback from parents and teachers, we decided to narrow down our focus to younger children because we want to build the habit of talking with parents about emotions, feelings and problem solving from the early preschool age.

And then, because Povi was going to be sharing real-life stories (something kids and parents loved in our focus groups) we came to the decision that he needed to be cuddly. Povi took the shape of a cuddly plush toy, perfect for a warm and cozy story and conversation session.

Designed to help parents raise happier, caring and confident children, Povi is an EI (emotional intelligence) content platform + app of crowd-sourced content with a huggable storytelling buddy as the delivery tool. In other words, Povi is a connected toy with a mission, for children ages 3-8. Povi shares short stories based on children's everyday situations then engages young listeners and their parents in a discussion on emotions and feelings.


Bootstrapping, we manufactured 20 prototypes and started the Traveling Povi program.

This is a program when we send Povi with 5 expert designed stories to the homes of interested parents for a week. We have the parents and kids test Povi and send us their feedback.

We already received great feedback from parents and kids who have tried out Povi. Some testimonials we received:
  • Kids are very excited about listening Povis stories - don’t want to stop at one.
  • Povi motivated children to talk about similar personal experiences.
  • Parents appreciated that they learned something new about their kids lives and how their kids think through/process experiences.
  • The story starter is the most effective as kids jump right into discussion and commentary.
Our biggest issue is that kids in this first round of trial are so possessive of Povi they are reluctant to let him travel! We now need to build more!! Our goal is to build the next 5000 Povis so that there will be enough Povis to go around, helping busy young families connect and communicate.

The team behind Povi is are up of seasoned software engineers, a designer, a journalist, marketing specialists, toy veterans, psychologists and counselors. They all joined me because they believe in Povi's mission to help parents raise happier, caring and confident kids. I want to be able to make Povi a reality. I want to be able to especially help busy working moms like myself - to make it easier for you to get into thoughtful conversations that touch the emotions and feelings of your children every day.

Please help me make Povi a reality. Support us on Kickstarter on May 24, 2016. Like us so that you can also share us with your friends.

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