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For Some Startups, Technology is Child’s Play

November 14, 2011

Sometimes, a successful IPO is all about jumping on the bandwagon.  For Florida-based startup First Social Networx, which filed the paperwork for their IPO last week, make that two bandwagons.  As its name suggests, the company aims to throw its hat into the red-hot ring that is online social networking.  But First Social Networx hopes also to get in on what we can identify as an emerging trend in the techno-biz world: applications that target that “first” period of our lives, childhood.   According to its S-1 filing, the company “intend[s] to create a social playtime network community that helps parents reduce the amount of isolation and anxiousness while raising children and to help children interact with other children.”

Photo by Lummmy. Some rights reserved.

Everywhere you look, it seems, startups are taking existing technology and repackaging it for the younger set.  If First Social Networx aspires to be Facebook for frazzled parents of toddlers, Hapykidz.com aspires to be that market’s Groupon.  The company, which filed for its IPO late last month, wants to launch a daily deal website that will “focus on the niche market of family-oriented merchants who will offer money-saving discounts on products and services designed for families and children.”  And an outfit called BillMyParents Inc. (formerly SocialWise Inc.) is trying to build a kind of PayPal for kids.  The business opportunity here is the Grand Canyon-sized gap between kids’ desire and their means: in their IPO filing from last February, the company cites research that “there are in excess of $40 billion dollars in annual Internet sales that young people research online but end up either not purchasing or purchasing from other sources. The number one reason cited for this failure of young people to complete these sales transactions was their lack of a payment means.”  BillMyParents’ simple solution is encapsulated in the company’s name.  (The company ended up withdrawing its IPO after substantial private funding came through.)

Much of the child-based technology market is focused on protection and parental control.  Networking Partners, Inc., whose IPO closed in August, offers a Facebook knockoff called Koini that foregrounds these features.  “Since Koini is popular with children and young adults,” the company’s S-1 explains, “Internet safety is the keystone of our business. That is why Koini has built in four levels of security for our young universe of users.”  Internet safety is also the keystone of Blue Sun Media Inc., which likewise went public earlier this year.  As the company’s initial registration statement has it, Blue Sun “is in business to develop internet applications which allow children to play, interact and transact in a secure manner by providing their parents complete control over their online activities.”

What other trends are attracting entrepreneurs and investors?  See Knowledge Mosaic’s complete list of IPO registrations this year.

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