We talked to Aarti Shah of Kiddo about smart parenting and here is what she had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aarti Shah: It has been a testing time with loads of changes in how we operate and live, but at the same time, it’s been beautiful to spend quality time with kids and family. We have coped well so far and feel blessed that our extended families and friends are all doing well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kiddo?
Aarti Shah: I am a marketing and communications professional with over 14 years of business-to-business marketing experience in professional firms (EY and PwC) and financial services (JP Morgan). As a mom of two beautiful kids, I had always struggled to get through the barriers of finding the right activities for my kids and a convenient payment solution for the same. Whether it’s surfing the internet, following up on blogs/ chats or standing in queues, or online blanking for the payments, I realized that the quality time I wanted to spend with my kids is more spent on arranging for than actually experiencing it.
Probably this feeling was quite common amongst most of us, as parents. We all are informed parents and are aware that holistic child development includes schooling, skill development, and fun time simultaneously. While you have cab-hailing apps, food delivering apps, and gym apps, there is a gap when it comes to an app around holistic child development.
Something had to be done about this. It’s this feeling that brought three of us together as co-founders, and Kiddo was launched last year on 25 November 2019. Kiddo aspires to play an essential role in this child development ecosystem connecting service providers with parents in a simple, seamless, and secured manner.
How does Kiddo innovate?
Aarti Shah: Our Application is both a Marketplace and a Payment Portal built to connect Parents with Child development sector service providers. Kiddo’s mission is to ensure every child gets the right development opportunity by providing parents with a dedicated marketplace by listing programs on the app that are carefully curated to be fun and promote skill development.
Parents can find, discover, book, and pay for any of their kids’ activities at a click of a button, any time of the day. The app has an inbuilt API through which it provides customized recommendations based on children’s age, preference, and interest. Parents can make an informed decision based on their friends’ ratings and recommendations, thus creating a community. Our payment portal KiddoPay is an easy and secure way to make payments, and it also provides an installment option to the parents.
Similarly, for service providers, Kiddo is a fin-tech solution that addresses the education sector gap, focusing on its SMEs. Surprisingly enough, in a market size of 45bn AED, there exists no mobile payment solution espy for SMEs in these sectors. Which is the exact problem Kiddo is solving. Kiddo is a digital platform that provides:
- An additional outlet to market their services better and reach a wider audience ·
- Access to KiddoPay, a mobile payment collection tool that sends automated payment reminders to parents and collects payments securely and quickly via Apple Pay & credit/debit cards.
- Increased conversions by letting users pay in Easy Monthly Instalments
Our innovation is driven by the need for convenience and ease that is very much required in this sector. We empower parents to enable their kids to outperform and excel. Kiddo is a smart parenting App that is becoming an essential part of every parent’s life.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Aarti Shah: The Pandemic has hit nearly all businesses, and ours is no different. The whole education ecosystem became more fragmented as various of our Service Providers had to take the shock; some paused, some adapted, and unfortunately, some closed. After school activities, the demand took a slow pace due to the obvious safety reasons and the decline in the families’ purchasing power.
Things are starting to resume slowly, but now service providers have limited capacity operational permissions, which has led to reduced supply.
We have been able to survive these times by listening carefully to our Stakeholders, taking quick, calculated action, and responding to change. We focus on reducing our overall cost and including programs like free/paid online classes and activity boxes. At the same time, KiddoPay became the need of the hour as many merchants wanted to access a contactless payment solution. We enhanced our product to cater to the high demand for digital payment solutions like web payment links.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Aarti Shah: Yes, of course, we had to make a few difficult choices as part of our cost reduction strategy. This wasn’t easy.
The most important lesson that I learned was to be agile, quick in action, and empathetic. Change is the only constant, and the sooner we accept and action it, the easier it gets.
How do you deal with stress and Anxiety?
Aarti Shah: My kids are my stress busters. Spending time with them helps me overcome stress and Anxiety. They make me realize that life is beautiful and that we should be thankful. Stress and Anxiety are not a solution to any problem, but calmness and purity at heart are.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Aarti Shah: I would not say that Kiddo has a direct competition as we are beyond just a discount App. We provide a marketplace as well as a digital payment solution.
For us, innovation and responding to change is the key to stay ahead in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Stay safe, stay compassionate.