Queensland startup KoalaSafe has signed a landmark international deal, getting its internet monitoring device for children onto the shelves of 250 Target stores in the USA.
KoalaSafe, founded in 2014 and boosted with a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, manufactures small boxes that plug into home internet devices to give parents the ability to control and monitor from a smartphone app the amount of time spent online and block specific sites.
“KoalaSafe is unique in that we don’t charge a monthly fee like other products in the market and our product creates a completely separate network for kids, so parents and children have a completely independent experience,” the startup’s co-founder Steve Pack said.
The business now has the backing of Austrade Landing Pad program, Queensland government’s Hot DesQ scheme and Blackbird Ventures, which has allowed it to sell into 21 countries and sign the deal with Target.
The idea for the magic box came in 2013 when Pack saw his nephew receive a new iPad for Christmas. He watched an energetic child that loved running around outside change instantly into a couch potato transfixed by electronic treats such as Minecraft, Facebook and Clash of Clans.
“The problem is that the creators of these ecosystems, intentionally or not, have made it so compelling that some kids want to engage with it to the exclusion of all else. That’s where the problems is,” Pack said back in 2015.
“I saw it first hand with my nephew becoming more addicted to Minecraft every day. It was a constant battle for my sister to manage his time and I thought, there has to be a better way. That’s when KoalaSafe was born.”
The startup — established by University of Technology, Sydney alumni Pack and Adam Mills – owns the intellectual property within the software, with the hardware simply a white-labelled router.
KoalaSafe was formerly located in Sydney at Australia Technology Park, but now operates out of Cairns and San Francisco.