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Kid tech / parenting tech meetup recap

Recap of the kid/parenting tech meetup co-hosted by ActivityHero and 500Startups on 11/07/12

Knowledge dissemination in progress…….

Over 70 early stage startups working on parenting and kid focused technology, and the awesomely knowledgeable panel who came to enlighten these 70 startups on distribution techniques, together rocked the house. The only fly in the ointment, I discovered later, was that the audio feed wasn’t recorded. Doh!

Those who are still adamant about watching 5 mute people mime in a terribly boring fashion, watch the video here

And in a vain attempt to mollify the angry mob that turned up in twitter with pitchforks in hand, I have begged/borrowed/stolen notes from our awesomely generous panelists and pasted them below. Go forth and have your fill.

Mike Greenfield, Founder of Circle of Moms and TeamRankings, and self professed data geek who blogs extensively about data and startups at his enlightening yet convolutedly named NumerateChoir blog (a must follow!) said the following:

  1. Measure things and make decisions based on data, not hunches.
  2. A/B test
  3. Growth needs to be integrated into your product properly; the tactics that worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you.
  4. Moms of kids under one are a different from moms of older kids; once kids reach one or two, moms are far more likely to have social structures for their kids, so “meet moms in your area” is less compelling.
  5. Circle of Moms grew a lot early on with Facebook invitations, but that channel became less effective over time (for a variety of reasons).  Later on, we used a bunch of channels to grow and re-engage users.  All things equal, it’s easier to grow quickly with one really strong channel.

Seth Rosenblatt, the governing Board Member & President of San Carlos School District and the former president of San

Mateo County school boards association was very empathetic to the startups’ need for speed while politely sharing his knowledge about the constraints from the educators’ perspective. Follow him on his blog where he muses about education and other local issues. He said the following:

  1. Public education definitely has constraints and is historically slow to adopt (funding constraints, legal constraints, etc.)
  2. But educational leaders do fundamentally want to innovate, and we may be at a tipping point for “21st Century Education” – breaking down of the virtual “walls” of schools
  3. Common Core standards coming — lots of opportunities to connect there (e.g. teacher training, test taking skills, etc.)
  4. Opportunities to better connect teachers, parents, students for collaboration – anything that connects out of school time with in school time (i.e. blended learning)
  5. Solutions that save districts money are always valuable
  6. Make pitch very specific — it’s not about how you will “save education” but tie specifically to some of the issues above – you have to cut through the noise
  7. Look for champions within a school district — could vary by district
  8. Look at organizations such as county offices of education, eSchoolNews, CSBA, county organizations, etc – ask who are champions/visionaries within school districts
  9. Emphasize thought leadership, case studies, etc — districts want to learn from other districts
  10. Multi-pronged approach to marketing (parents, schools, board members, etc.) — depending on community, could be led by parents who then put pressure on schools

Beth Blecherman, tech blogger and contributing writer to Mashable, Laptop magazine and Cool Mom Tech and co-founder of Silicon Valley Moms Group, a network of regional mom blogs across the country (it was sold to Technorati) was overflowing with tips on how the startup community can reach parents through mom bloggers. She spoke mainly about:

  1. How to identify the right parent bloggers
  2. How moms use different social media platforms
  3. Difference between a press pitch and a service pitch
  4. How to pitch to bloggers & bigger media sites

She was kind enough to write an entire blog post elaborating these points above: Top Tips for Kid-Tech apps to pitch parent bloggers. Check out her new book My Parent Plan about applying project management to parenting.

Satyajit Sahu, a computer scientist turned entrepreneur whose super successful app iRewardChart, featured on NBC’s Today show, CNET, CNN and several other national media outlets, recommended by Apple as a parenting essential, winner of the Best Parenting App award two years in a row, came well prepared with 10 essential points to note about mobile distribution:

  1. App review websites sites
  2. ASO
  3. Pay per install
  4. Giveaways
  5. Vanity URL
  6. Facebook app center
  7. Cross-promotion with your other apps
  8. App integration with platforms
  9. Strategic partnerships
  10. App store curated lists

He elaborates on all these 10 points above in this post on Distribution Tips for Mobile Apps

Cool Startups + Awesome Panelists = Mind-blowing Meetup!

All in all, the combination of a very knowledgeable panel and an excited audience made for a fun event. Sign up to the kid and parenting tech meetup group and watch out for cool future panel discussions on topics like design, fundraising, legal etc. specifically focused on parenting and kid-tech.

Also, keep the conversation going between meetups by joining this facebook group.

 

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Distribution tips for mobile apps

Satyajit Sahu is founder of iRewardChart, an iphone and android app that helps parents keep track of their child’s behavior and reward them appropriately. The app was featured on NBC’s Today Show, CNET, CNN and several other national media outlets. The app was recommended by Apple as a parenting essential and won the Best Parenting App award two years in a row. This is a recap of a talk he gave at a parenting and kid-focused tech meetup.

The following are some tips to increase app downloads:

1. App review sites: Get reviewed. Doesn’t matter by whom, whether it’s by a blog read by 100 people or 1M people, every post/article about you is a permanent footprint, and looks good in Google’s eyes. Video reviews are especially better for SEO.

2. ASO (AppStore Search Optimization): Hack your title, description, and keywords to be more searchable. With iOS6, it’s even more important, because now the search results are full-screen.

3. Pay-per-install: Companies like GetJar, TapJoy help discovery via a virtual currency platform. You can get promoted through their network. This works best for freemium games.

4. Giveaways: Everyone loves freebies, and it still is a great way to get distributed. However, you need to have a plan behind a free day promotion. Amazon has a AppOfTheDay program that gets a huge number of downloads. So perhaps you can use that to promote an in-app-purchase upgrade, or another app. Giving away free works if you have closed viral loops so that those tens of thousands of users bring in millions of other users.

5. Vanity URL: This could help get your app listed in the Application tab of Facebook. Then you can launch the app within Facebook, or any other site for that matter. There are many listing apps (such as apps for busy moms, apps for toddlers, etc.), they use the vanity URL to invoke your app. Kindertown is such an app discovery platform for kids apps.

6. Facebook App Center: It helps to have a profile on Facebook AppCenter (facebook.com/appcenter). This makes you more visible on the largest social network.

7. Cross-promotion: If you have several apps, cross-promote one through another. If users are happy using your app, they are likely to look for other apps made by you.

8. App Integration: Many app infrastructure companies open up their platform to be used by any developer. For example, Dropbox, Evernote are hugely popular, and provide fairly deep integration onto their platform. Some have even created a portal (http://trunk.evernote.com) to feature the apps.

9. Strategic partnerships: Do you have synergy with a website where your users visit often? You could even co-brand a version of the app (maybe a free version with limitations) for a partner. That way, they get to flaunt an app in the appstore, and you get their distribution channels, be featured on their website. If you’re partnering on a paid app, then there may be a cost involved, so you should negotiate a fixed cost for a fixed time duration.  After the initial period you can have a rev share with the partner.

10. App Stores: Some appstore do curations. Apple has several regular features (What’s hot, Essential listing, Staff picks) and some seasonal (Halloween, Olympics, etc.) picks. It helps to be featured on these curated lists.