Artkive, an app designed to eliminate the overwhelming guilt you get tossing your children’s brilliant artwork into the garbage, now has another purpose, too: you can order printed out books of their creations. Instead of just hiding the child’s crumpled up drawings and precious finger-paint covered handprints that school sends home – what is now, like every day? – under cereal boxes and empty bags of chips, you can assure yourself that you’ve found a more efficient means of saving these items instead. You snapped a photo of them.
The sense of relief is overwhelming, I tell you.
OK, I kid…a little.
But as any parent will tell you, kids’ art output is overwhelming, forcing you to curate with a heavy hand. That’s why so many moms (and some dads, too) have begun snapping photos of the art before it hits the trash.
Explains CEO Jedd Gold, who has extensive experience working in kids’ entertainment, including with the relaunch of nostalgic 80′s brands like Strawberry Shortcake and Trolls, he was inspired to build Artkive after witnessing this very behavior at home.
“I was watching my wife take pictures of our kids’ artwork on her camera, that she would upload to her computer, and then she would upload from her computer to one of these photo sites. But by then she wouldn’t remember who created what piece, or when they were created, and they’d be out of order,” he says. “I thought, ‘there’s gotta be an app for that.’ But there really wasn’t.”
So he launched one.
The Kive Company raised $500,000 late last year for its mobile application that helps you to not just take the photos, but also annotate them with things like the child’s name, date of creation, and other comments.
Although the original goal was to make the art archiving process easier – as you can tell by the name – the app’s small but growing customer base of 105,000 (almost all moms) have already found other uses for it. They’re documenting everything that you would save for a kids’ scrapbook, including report cards, photos, other items from events and school activities, and more. One woman even used the app to document the last seven months of her pregnancy.
With this expanded focus, the printed book option begins to make more sense. Because as much as I love my own daughter’s art, I’m not sure how often I’d really revisit it in hardcover book format. But a scrapbook of her pre-kindergarten years? That I could get on board with.
Gold initially tested the concept with an alpha product launched in December. He added a “print” button to the app, without offering an explanation or any details as to what the final product would be. Despite this lack of information, a couple hundred Artkive users ordered books.
With the app’s recent update, the book purchasing feature has been overhauled. Users can now review and edit their books, changing things like the title, text on the page, the pictures it includes, and more. Books can either be 8×8″ or 8×11″, and start at $25 for 20 pages. Each additional page is $1.00 more. Before the holidays, the plan is to expand into gifts, like calendars and mugs, for example.
Also new in the recent update is social sharing – something Gold had originally limited, thinking that the last thing anyone would want to see on Facebook was other people’s kids’ drawings. But Artkive’s user base disagreed.
In addition, Artkive has also recently come to Android, however it’s not yet feature-complete with the iOS version due to the company’s limited resources.
I love the idea behind Artkive, but the app itself needs to streamline things a bit. There are too many manual steps involved on almost all screens, from sign-up to upload. These are mainly minor inconveniences, but anything that takes more time that it should – or could – is something that will eventually find itself dropped in favor of quicker, smoother alternatives…like Shutterfly’s automatic upload on its mobile app, perhaps.
Artkive is currently a free download on iTunes here, or Android here.
A number of startups have been trying their hand at subscription-based children’s books services, or something like a “Netflix for kids’ books,” so to speak. Today, another entry called Zoobean joins the flock, with the debut of its own handpicked catalog which parents can either subscribe to, or choose to just shop online like a standard e-commerce website.
“About a year ago, when our daughter was born, we were looking for a book for our son that would help him understand what it would mean to be a big brother. And in this particular case – we’re a multi-racial family – we were looking for something that might have kids that more resembled our family,” explains Lloyd.
That challenge proved harder than they thought.
The parents wanted a way to find a recommended book that matched their interests, but one they knew was also quality reading. So they built Zoobean to address this problem.
The site, at launch, has nearly 1,500 books for sale, all of which are parent-recommended, curated by a team of parents, teachers, librarians and others, and which are cataloged more extensively with topics, characters’ backgrounds, recommended ages, keyword tags and more. That way, when a parent is looking for a specific book on a topic, they can click to see all those that address that topic – like “self-esteem,” “anger and frustration,” or “growing up,” for example, as well as find books that match their own family structure and characteristics (e.g. “brother & sister,” “mother & child,” “black,” “Chinese Americans,” etc.)
The site will directly sell five featured items per month centered around a theme, and one of these will be available through an optional subscription. Subscribers pay $14.95 for the featured book of the month, a high-quality, hardcover. However, the majority of the cataloged books on Zoobean are being sold through affiliates like Amazon. Zoobean also offers a weekly reading guide for parents detailing the books in its featured collection along with activities parent and child can do together to learn more about the topic.
Though when the founders were speaking of their site’s uniqueness, their focus was on the curation aspects and the way the books were cataloged in more detail. But one of the more interesting things about this service with respect to its competitors is the diversity its selection reflects. There are books about many different ethnicities and subjects, and even harder-to-find books that cover transgender issues or bullying, for example.
“Any kid, parent or loved one who’s coming to find the right book can find one that the child can see him or herself in,” explains Bookey of the Zoobean collection.
The company has raised $500,000 in a seed round led by Kapor Capital, along with other private angels, friends and family. The plan is to raise another $250,000 on top of that.
Until today, Zoobean was in private, invite-only beta with some 200 testers. Now, it’s opening its doors to all parents or anyone else in the market for kids’ books. Users can sign up or browse the collection here.
Purchext, a new app/service that increases communication between parents, their youngsters and the purchases their youngsters make, is on display at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013. The concept behind the startup is a way for parents to approve purchases their kids are making. In reality, it works more like a way for kids to submit expense reports to their parents.
For each purchase a dependent minor makes, they can scan the receipts with the Purchext app and those receipts are submitted to their parents for approval. If the parent approves it, the amount of money on the receipt will be released to the kid’s bank account that is connected to their Purchext account.
In practical terms, the service can also be automated via a series of rules set up to filter purchases.
I’m not going to say the concept is not “gameable” by the kids using it. Surely enterprising minors could figure out ways around this, or could forgo submitting those purchases altogether. However as a concept, it could still streamline allowances and keep many relevant purchases on parents’ radar.
At the time, ThredUP said that the decision to launch into beta had to do with the complexities of women’s clothing sizes and other inventory management hurdles, but of course, the store also needed the time to solicit merchandise from customers. As with its efforts in the children’s clothing space, the new women’s store works the same: users request a “clean out” bag, which is shipped for free and can be filled with the unwanted, but good quality, clothing, then returned (postage paid) back to ThredUP. The clothes are checked to see if they meet the company’s standards, photographed, and placed online for sale. Sellers receive somewhere between 10-40 percent of the resell price, depending on the clothing’s quality.
Though now ThredUP is moving into the women’s vertical, its business model makes it different from the peer-to-peer secondhand marketplaces, like Poshmark, Threadflip, Twice, and others, since users aren’t selling their closet contents directly to each other. This makes it less profitable for sellers, but it also eliminates the hassles involved with selling on your own. In the kids’ clothes space, where parents are often quickly overwhelmed with outgrown clothing and are grateful for anyone to take these items off their hands, ThredUP makes a lot of sense. With women’s clothing, it may be more tricky as those who think their gently used clothes are worth selling, as opposed to donating, are generally hoping to make a little money. And for that reason, they might choose to remain on those peer-to-peer sites, where commissions paid are generally only around 20 percent, allowing them to keep the 80 percent.
As you can see in the chart below, these companies are already solid competitors for ThredUP:
ThredUP has been growing since it refocused its efforts on consigning over clothing swap over a year ago, and now reports 500,000 registered users, 970 percent growth in item sales from February 2012 to March 2013, and 28% month-over-month growth in order sales. Revenue details are not available. However, the company has raised $23 million from investors, most recently via a $14.5 million Series C round last fall, led by new investor Highland Capital Partners, alongside existing investors Trinity Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.
The company is now receiving and processing between 8,000 and 10,000 items daily, up from 5,000 in February. Its kids’ clothing store has 150,000 items for sale from around 9,000 brands, and, at launch, the new women’s vertical will feature 30,000 items from some 4,000 brands.
In addition, ThredUP has made a move to address some users’ concerns with sending off clothes for resell, then finding that they’ve nothing to show for it when ThredUP deems the items not meeting its standards for quality. In the past, these were simply donated to charity. But for those interested, a “Return Assurance” option is now available, which allows users to opt in to having clothing returned. This service is available for $9.99, so you would have to have a significant sized clean out bag to make it worth paying the shipping fees.
The best places to people-watch are airports, clubs, and the subway. The amount of concentrated ridiculous human behavior on display is amazing. If you’re wondering why I have my sunglasses on at 2:30am at Marquee…now you know.
One of the things I like looking at is something I call “Competence Triggers.” These are telltale behavioral signs of someone with high competence — who’s good at what they do — or low competence.
For example, someone who speaks slowly is perceived very differently than someone who speaks quickly, with his eyes darting around.
And you can actually MASTER these Competence Triggers — changing not only how others perceive you, but you perceive yourself!
That’s why I love today’s question from IWT reader Guro W.:
“How do I discover the job’s pay rate and is it ok to ask at all? Lots of time they do not mention anything about pay.”
This sounds like a tactical question, but it’s actually about Competence Triggers. Because would a Top Performer ever ask that question?
Check out my video response:
Now, I’m curious: Think about the last social interaction you had. Could be a party, hanging out with your friends, even dinner with your parents.
Did anyone give off any noticeable low- or high-competence triggers? What specifically? Leave a comment below.