Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar has thrown his support behind a startup which wants to make the internet safer for children.
KoalaSafe has launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $98,000 – the cost of producing 1000 devices. With 28 days to go it has raised $13,357.
This morning Farquhar tweeted in support of the startup which is also a participant in the Startmate program.
— Scott Farquhar (@scottfarkas) March 19, 2015
KoalaSafe is a box controlled by your smartphone which plugs into an existing router and connects you to all your children’s devices. It comes set with some defaults and you can tweak it as you go.
“Some things, once seen, can never be unseen,” the company said. “KoalaSafe can help restore the balance and make parenting easier.”
Co-founders Steven Pack and Adam Mills came up with the idea when Pack’s niece and nephew were given an iPad and a laptop for Christmas. The kids gradually went from playing outside to being glued to the screens and addicted to computer games like Minecraft.
“My nephew and niece are not specifically in the share registry, no. But they did benefit with a trip to Timezone to say thank you when they became the first test household,” Pack said.
The technology enables parents to control how long kids are connected to the internet, supplies data on sites and how long kids have spent on each one. For example, if Facebook usage jumps from one hour to 20 hours a week, KoalaSafe will notify you. It also incorporates safe search so kids don’t access inappropriate content.
Both guys quit their jobs as software engineers at big banks halfway through 2014 and started assembling boxes one-by-one. KoalaSafe ran a beta program in 50 homes and was accepted into the Startmate accelerator program in January, securing $50,000 in seed funding.
“The Atlassian boys are on board, they’re invested in us indirectly, they invest in the Startmate program,” Pack said.
“We’ve got some good advice from them as well. They told us some of the stories from the early days like stick to your own path.”
Pack said the Atlassian co-founders have spoken to them about their experience with being asked to white label their technology – an experience which Pack said was helpful to hear about as KoalaSafe is currently in discussion with a number of telcos about integrating their technology.
He said while the distribution deals telcos could provide would be significant, it could also mean the startup is tied to a slower moving entity at a time when it’s important it remains agile.
The co-founders are software engineers by training and have worked at Macquarie Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland – both have spent many years in finance.
“That’s one thing that’s been helpful because in finance you have to take all this data and present it in a way that it can be used,” Pack said.
“We take all this information and present it in a simple way.
“We’ve ironed out all the big issues already. Our filtering has been improving every day, we’ve been able resolve any issues with things AppleTV and ChromeCast, so you get something that works flawlessly.
“There’s always a chance we’ll find a device that’s not yet compatible, but we haven’t yet.”
So far the founders have been assembling the boxes by hand but operating like that doesn’t enable them to scale.
“We have the design and we have the relationship with our manufacturer, but like any hardware project, we need your help with pre-orders,” Pack said.
“With 1000 pre-orders, we can push the ‘go’ button and start the production line rolling.”
The company hopes to start delivering the devices in July.
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