CHENNAI: First-time parents are now a target audience for a new digital business model. It’s called the Parent App. And these desi startups seem to be growing faster than the duration of your kid’s last tantrum!
In the last five years, over a dozen of these companies — like Babygogo and Parentlane, based out of New Delhi and Bengaluru respectively, have been mushrooming in metros across the country. Here’s why. “Content on parenting and child care has been around online for ages. But these days, parents want to cut their research time in half and find it all in one place,” says Vijay Anand, CEO of Parentlane.
Catering end-to-end needs of a newbie parents, expect everything from an ovulation calculator to interactions with child nutritionists and psychologists, to how to measure the baby weight post-delivery. In the era of the nuclear family with both parents, an app is easier and faster to use than call your mother-in-law to ask about the baby’s diaper.
But it gets even better. One of the biggest perks of a parenting app is that you often get a ‘personalised feed’ of information based on the age of the child. So a parent of a one-month-old will receive content entirely different from a parent of a 10-month-old, all without the hassle of ever typing in a search word!
“Believe it or not, we have over 400 notification combinations, and this for parents raising kids between zero and eight years. So the information is extremely specific to the timeline of your child,” Vijay elaborates.
ZenParent takes it a step further by facilitating a system where parents who have just crossed a certain stage can offer peer advice to those with children entering that age group. “At any given point, we have about 100 chat forums going, all based on topics that are relevant to their child,” illustrates Sumit Dhar, CEO of the parenting platform.
Between a range of concerns like ‘shouldn’t be my baby be crawling yet’ to ‘how do I give my little one more protein when we’re vegetarians, the queries are a mile a minute. So don’t be shy. GenY parents are creating mini communities online to help each other. From poop to post pregnancy sex, no question is too big or small to put out on the parenting pram.
Goodbye school diaries, hello instant messaging
With messaging platforms created exclusively to connect teachers and parents, you can now receive a heads up on a school holiday or practice worksheets for an exam — directly on your smartphone. “It’s sort of similar to the WhatsApp format, except these are Classroom groups and the traffic is one-way. That means messages are exclusively from the teacher to parents in the group,” explains Ankur Pandey, CEO and co-founder of The Uolo. Also he reassures, “Don’t worry, parents who don’t own a smartphone will get an SMS alert.”
Launched three years ago, the app is already in over 300 schools in cities like Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. What initially started as a pre-school only service is now expanding into the higher classes as well. Given that digitising school communication is location-specific and more niche than a generic parental platform, there are only a handful of players. These include the KnitApp, Educhat and the uber popular Teno app.
It doesn’t just have to be textbook announcements like homework due or the next big Math test either. As it turns out, snapshots of kids winning prizes on Sports Day or a fancy dress competition and candid mini videos from the classroom are giving parents a close up ‘insider’ experience they’ve never had in the past.
Evolution of Parenting Methods
There have been massive social and cultural shifts impacting the methods in parenting. Extended family support is waning. Adoption of technology — playing mobile games, accessing information on the Internet, staying connected on social media — are all creating issues that no one seems have solutions to. Shifts in social and value systems like working parents, materialism, impulsive behaviours, focus on school and competitive academics, waning influence of religion in instilling moral values and so on are contributing to shifts in parenting methods.
— Nalina Ramalakshmi, MD, Parent Circle