Friday, June 24, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Because Baby Changes Everything, YellowBrck Creates Location Based Soc Net for Parents

There are few parents who would dispute the idea that having a child drives absolutely profound changes in one’s life. Suddenly, instead of your daily existence being more or less SELF focused, it becomes THEM focused. And while every parent can fill hours with magical stories of their offspring, so too can they fill a similar amount of time with stories of mewling small creatures seizing attention and demanding information, entertainment, and objet du play.

A new location based soc net called YellowBrck is designed to meet the needs of Mommies and Daddies, whether they are currently feeling overjoyed with parenthood or are drumming their fingertips on the wheel of the Dodge Caravan trying not to leave their rug rats by the side of the Interstate. It is a high quality tool for parents to share their locations, activities, and thoughts with other parents. The app is available for free on iTunes for iPhone users.

This sort of sharing can be of tremendous value to consumers. Parents can get ideas for entertainment and activities from one another. We can start conversations and friendships with others in the park. We can schedule play dates. Or we can rant to someone who understands those crazy feelings everyone has after hearing the Barney theme song sung by a 5 year old, offkey, 47 times.

On their blog, they explain the origin of the site thus, and I love the simplicity and honesty of it. Many of the best ideas come when inventive people are confronted with real life challenges:

We and our wives are always looking for coupons, savings and fun things to do with our friends and kids. We are constantly balancing, work, taking care of the home and finding activities for our kids to do. One day while out together with our families, we came up with a fantastic idea — why not build a location based application that lets parents share their location and activities with other parents?Parents check in their location with their iPhone and see where other parents are. That’s the location part. And why not let them check in what they are doing at the time? That’s the activity part.And while we are it let’s add some rewards. When you check in with our iPhone app, you will earn virtual stickers and real world coupons and discounts.

More of a Twitter or 4Square analog than a Facebook style experience, the site seems tailor made for people who want to stay in touch but only have time for SMS-length updates. Naturally because this is a location based service, it is designed first and foremost for use on smartphones.

That’s just some of the value that this interesting experience offers. The commercial side of this compelling new company comes from the rewards system they offer for parents who participate. By checking in at different times and locations, for example, parents become eligible for special offers and discounts from brick and mortar entities anxious to attract their custom. They are partnered with an impressive list of retailers of kid oriented merchandise, including Totsy, Ecomom, Dapple, Abe’s Market, Torly Kid, and many more. Additionally, this being 2011, they also offer a variety of badges and other forms of virtual goods rewards.

One might ask why parents need their own Four Square, when the original would be more than happy to have their visits and check-ins? Well, clearly the founders believe that the nature of parents’ lives is radically different from the strongly single, strongly male skewing Four Square and Gowalla offerings. Whether you accept that reasoning really relates to which direction you think social will head. Will we all do everything on a single, universal soc net? Or will we want to uise different networks for different aspects of our lives.

My own thought on the subject is that we will do both. Having Facebook and Facebook Connect is really very valuable as a means of making it easy to create a personal presence online as well as sign into a growing number of socialized web experiences. But specialty communities will also prosper when they can better meet particular needs and life circumstances. I agree that parenthood is such a unique manner of existence that creating a service and growing feature set geared specifically to their needs has solid merit. Keep this outfit on your radar because I have a hunch they are onto something with YellowBrck.

Plus, the excellent brand name is five kinds of awesome.

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

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