Ask anyone who has made a kids app and they’ll tell you the same thing: creating a tech product for children is creatively challenging and endlessly rewarding. It makes you think outside the box. It gives you a chance to show up to work and be a kid every day. And, it affords you the opportunity to make a positive impact on growing minds. Most who do this kind of work love it. But as much as it’s a passion, it’s also a job. Behind every app for kids is a company with overhead: salaries, equipment, R&D, server space, marketing. Bills to be paid and lights to keep on.
The kids app market at a glance
And for every successful kids app, there are hundreds that didn’t make it. Not because they weren’t great apps with dedicated teams and wonderful missions—but because the kid-tech market is a notoriously difficult one. This segment is more challenging than others for a few reasons, which former Toca Boca CEO Björn Jeffery very eloquently explains in his series on the kids app market.
As Jeffery astutely points out, the kid-tech market is tricky to master because your user is not your customer. You’re designing an app to be used by kids, yes—but it’s the parents who download, sign up and (depending on the business model) pay for the app. And often, kids and parents have quite different wish lists for apps, so companies need to hit a sweet spot and design a product that kids want to use and parents see value in.
Adding another layer of complexity is the fact that there are regulations that apps must comply with if they want to serve kids under 13. Legislation like COPPA in the United States and GDPR-K in Europe set out stringent regulations—and rightly so—that are meant to protect children online, and compliance is a necessary condition for a kids app. These rules protect kids’ safety, privacy and data when they’re online—and companies open themselves up to serious fines if they violate them. (Just ask YouTube.)
And beyond the legislation, there are serious restrictions on kids app categories in the App Store and Play Store, adding still more rules that kid-tech companies need to comply with. So yes, the kid-tech segment is challenging—and as a result, there is a serious lack of high-quality tech products for children. But this gap in the market makes it difficult for parents and children to unlock technology’s potential, which is the exact problem Kinzoo is here to solve.
What Kinzoo stands for
Our founder is a father who was inspired to start Kinzoo after his own experiences introducing tech to his children. He saw how much his daughter loved using devices to connect with extended family, learn new things and express herself—but he couldn’t find any apps or platforms that gave her the best of technology without exposure to the worst of it. With the founding vision to be the most-trusted brand for incorporating technology into our kids’ lives, we are serious about building products that are safe, private and healthy for kids to use.
With this in mind, we put a lot of thought into how we were going to make money—because a company’s business model has a big influence on what they value, how they operate and what kinds of products they build. Indeed, the way a lot of adult apps generate revenue is not suitable for kids apps. Data capture and targeted advertising have been the dominant business model for social media platforms, but that’s not appropriate or even legal for kids apps. That kind of business model leads companies to focus on the needs of advertisers—and Kinzoo is here to serve families. We want to ensure that our business goals bring us closer to our mission of creating trusted tech for kids, and we believe we can only do that if we prioritize our users’ needs above everything else.
How Kinzoo plans to make money
Right now, you can use Kinzoo and all its features for free, but eventually, we plan to use a membership model. That means that there will always be a free version of the app that anyone can use—but in the future, certain features will only be available through membership. There are plenty of examples of this out there in the world (think: Amazon Prime membership, where you pay for access to value-added features and perks). We’re also considering one-time payments for things like stickers, exclusive games and activities—add-ons that make connecting on Kinzoo even more fun, educational and creative. We believe in this kind of model because it ensures access for everyone who wants to use Kinzoo—and motivates us to develop features that kids will love and parents will see real value in.
We’re pushing ourselves to think outside the box with our business model. This decision not only keeps us in line with best practices for children’s privacy and safety, but it also challenges us to create something that kids and parents both truly love using. And, it’s not just a matter of users paying subscriptions for access to something behind a paywall; the way we look at it, every Kinzoo customer is an investor in our company, and we’re using those investments to build even better experiences for them and their families.
Ultimately, the way you choose to make money has an incredible influence on almost everything. It shapes how you prioritize your business goals, design your product and interact with your customers. That’s why it was so important for us to really think about our business model, and make sure that it aligned with our vision and values. We are doing everything we can to make technology better and more empowering for kids and their parents, so every decision needs to support that.