At Mauj Mobile, we are strong believers of bringing great content to segmented audiences over the mobile devices, and in particular over Android devices. Great content that has a sharply defined audience, that drives great product engagement and repeat consumption amongst the target audience. Such a sharply defined proposition also provides terrific monetisation opportunities for our content and app development partners.
Setting up Appystore.in for us was a great journey at this intersection of the passion to build great products, bring great content to our mobile audience and finally personal joy of building something specific for parents of young children. Being parents of 2 children - a 5 years old son and a 1 year old daughter my wife and I were close to the challenges that several of us face - that of finding great digital content for our young pre-school children.
The problem to solve:
Millennial children have a very different relationship to digital content largely driven by how ubiquitous digital devices have become. In a typical urban family, access to multiple devices is now the norm - smart phones, computers or tablets. Engagement with online videos or appstores is the norm. Hence access and availability of content is not the challenge. What becomes challenge is hence finding relevant content. Our children already spend anywhere between 1 to 4 hours in a day engaging with content across devices already. Most of this time is possibly spent on popular children's characters. And that is great! But keeping in line with entertainment genre of several of these characters, the focus is on superhero status of the characters or on other traits. The general insecurity of the parents is really around "is my child learning or developing while watching popular content". And there is no structured way today to address this insecurity.
A second challenge is that while youtube, Googles or Apple's appstores are large horizontal platforms that help us search and discover relevant content for our kids through powerful search and recommendation mechanisms, they still are what they are - horizontal platforms. Horizontal platforms have challenges in that specific needs of consumer segments are not fully addressed. For instance, a property listing in a general classifieds site cant provide in-depth property analysis, seller analysis or specialized content around property price trends etc as well as a property portal can. Similarly, a horizontal portal having children's apps and games does not address the needs of parents effectively.
A parent of a young child is very close to the specific development needs and cognitive ability of a child. A parent already understands that a 3 year old has basic verbal abilities, while a 5 year old can construct grammatically correct sentences with a fairly good broad based vocabulary.
At the age of 4 a while a chile might learn counting from 0-9; at the age of 5 he has understood addition and possibly had a peek into what subtraction as a concept means. Equally as parents we are curious about pushing the child's boundaries on multiple directions - music, physical activities, team sports, spatial skills, numerical skills, learning multiple languages (that is typical of an Indian household). These all represent various learning areas really. But this intimate knowledge of the child's development leads to a very "viral" and often very inefficient form of search and discovery of content. This cost and effort for search for content that matches the cognitive ability leads parents down a path that uses a potpourri of media and materials to engage the children - ranging from buying work books, a narrow set of videos on youtube to apps that a parent may have heard through their friends as a great app for kids.
The need for content that could aid in children's development combined with the challenge of finding the "right content" is a problem waiting to be solved for this segment and hence we took on this challenge in building such a product.
The Approach and the product
With www.appystore.in we try our best to address this challenge. As a first step, we set up Smartcircle of key learning areas for children. Working with panel of teachers we identified 7 key learning areas for children and went about building a product around this. The seven key learning areas are Counting, Reading, Visual skills, Musical skills, Physical self awareness, Social awareness and Worldly / science awareness. Each of these areas are clearly defined an in many ways correlate with the curriculum that leading schools for pre-primary education follow. A well rounded development across all these areas is required for an all rounded development of the child.
Next we layered this building a strong understanding of specific cognitive development milestones for children along 6 age buckets of 1-5 - 2; 2-3; 3-4; 4-5; 5-6. With progression through the age groups, we sought to understand specifically how to identify the development of each of the skills as the child grows.
Third we worked with great content owners and curated thousands of videos and apps to pull together an intuitive way to search and discover great content for children. Every piece of content has been viewed and rated by a team of experts on dimensions of learning and fun. A specific expert rating is made available to each content and video on the store giving greater degree of confidence to parents that the product is right for them.
Finally this product has a great way to give feedback to parents on what sort of content their children are watching / downloading.
Finally from a child's perspective, the content that he actually consumes is content from brands that he is already familiar with. It is the familiar characters, songs, apps and experiences. The familiarity of the content leads to great engagement with the content. Combining this familiarity with the framework or scaffolding of the structure that the "Smartcircle", curation and age classification gives provides parents a safe and structured environment. This also gives parents the confidence to allow the child to spend meaningful time with digital content.
We continue to work with teachers, parents, specialist content creators for this group to continually refine this product and bring on board a wider range of content to our users.
This is really a beginning of the journey. Globally parents, educators, governments are working hard in understanding this key area of childrens development. Be it the formal curriculum that CBSE, ICSE and others set, or the Common Core standards that some Asian countries or increasingly US Educational system is adapting to - one thing is certain. Research in this area and constant progress in our understanding of how to encourage development in a child will mean that we at Mauj mobile will have to keep working with parents and teachers to stay close to the trends.
Connect with us at www.facebook.com/appystore.in and joins us in our journey.