- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
Earlier this month online baby manager TotSpot announced a sponsorship deal with Sesame Street. TotSpot users can now add the characters to their profile pages. You can also check out the profile pages for Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby and Elmo. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed although we hear that the deal involved large quantities of cookies.
It’s a smart move for TotSpot as it could help with distribution and visibility. If you are new to TotSpot, check out our interview TotSpot founder Adam Katz.
Apparently Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby were the only muppets initially involved in the deal. Like many stories I’ve heard before, “Elmo” rushed in and demanded equal time. Elmo apparently refuses to let any other Sesame Street resident have their time in the sun without his presence as well. I guess this is what happens when you are a diva. I am betting I will receive an email soon from Elmo’s attorneys demanding I add him next to Cookie Monster below.
Here’s a photo of the newly sponsored Cookie Monster — if you check this link, you can see what I mean about Elmo pushing his way into every photo.
The main Groups are “Cohort Groups” which are based on creating groups based on similar age children. There’s a groups dashboard where you can see current activity across multiple groups. Katz noted that the groups are being utilized by not just parents but also by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, pet fish, etc.
You can also add rich media in a group including YouTube and Vimeo videos and/or direct video and photo uploading. So far the most popular groups appear to be “first time parents” and “potty training help”.
Also make sure to check out my interview with Adam where we discuss where the idea for TotSpot came from, how the site works and what’s coming next.
We’ve written about a variety of baby social networks including Kidmondo, babyZbook and LilGrams. I had a chance to chat with Adam Katz back at the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC. Adam is hte co-founder of another baby/children social network named TotSpot. Below is a discussion we had more recently about TotSpot.
Allen: Can we start with a brief bio about yourself?
Adam Katz: My co-founder, Michael Broukhim, and I, graduated from college in 2007. At school, we were both involved in a number of different "social media" endeavors. Mike was the Editorial Chair of the Crimson, the school paper, and he led the editorial board’s move online introducing blogs and partnering with more than 20 schools on a wikitorial. I ran a company called CampusTap (sold to CoreObjects) that was a student blogging / campus activity aggregation platform.
Allen: How do you describe the Totspot service?
Adam: TotSpot is a place for parents to publish a page about their kids and share with family and friends. It’s part online baby journal, parent scrapbook, and social network.
Allen: Why did you decide to start Totspot?
Adam: Both Mike and I have adorable little cousins named Max – Mike’s cousin is now about 6 months-old and mine is 3 years-old – and we both have very tight-knit extended families so that is a lot of sharing (both online and off) that goes on. We both were disappointed with the existing tool-set and thought there must be a better vehicle for parents to share content with family and friends. There is a real desire among families for a safe, secure, and simple place to gather everything (photos, videos, journal entries).
Allen: What’s the team look like?
Adam: We’re nine people – myself, Mike, a team of 5 incredibly talented developers, and two amazing Moms – Janice and Kelcey who assist us in community management and outreach and product dev.
Allen: How are you marketing Totspot? Since the site is all behind a login, are you looking at any search-engine related traffic?
Adam: To date, TotSpot has grown almost entirely organically (definitely been helped by some really positive earned media). We’re up to more than 10,000 members and it’s been pretty viral – on TotSpot parents can make their children friends with other children, can invite grandparents and cousins to contribute, so there is some real sociability. To date, we have very little search engine traffic and that’s something that is (as you note) inherent in the nature of the product. As the TotSpot community develops, we’ll be adding some stuff that is more SEO-friendly.
Allen: How do you compare Totspot to other baby startups like Littlegrams and Kidmondo and larger sites like MayasMom?
Adam: I think TotSpot is pretty unique. Unlike a lot of the other parenting-sites that are information-centric, editorial content-centric, we’re focused on parent/family media sharing and unlike a lot of the "record-keeping" type sites we’re social (family can contribute) and I think a lot more fun. In addition, at a very practical level, the storage space we offer each user is (literally) 20x what our competitors offer and we’re the only ones that emphasize data portability.
Allen: What’s the technology look like that powers Totspot?
Adam: TotSpot is built on Ruby on Rails.
Allen: Can you explain your business model?
Adam: We will have four revenue streams – 1) Premium – We’ll offer some power-user tools such as HD Video for a small additional subscription fee. 2) Advertising – We’re going to do sponsorships, all very tasteful, trying to avoid anything on the children’s pages. 3) Virtual Goods – Gifts, e-cards, and things like that. 4) Printing – Our users will be able to take their TotSpot pages and turn them into beautiful personalized babybooks.
Allen: Do you find that being located outside of the Valley is an advantage, a disadvantage or neither?
Adam: I’m not sure. I haven’t yet run (or been employed by) a valley company so I can’t really speak to that experience but I do think being in smaller communities (right now we’re in NYC and Boston) can be helpful – we’ve gotten to know a lot of great, successful people in a relatively short amount of time. I think the biggest challenge has been finding talent, but, my hunch is that that challenge exists everywhere.
Allen: What’s coming next from Totspot?
Adam: In the next few weeks, we’ll be publicly rolling out the TotSpot API (we’re already using it internally). It’s part of our company’s total commitment to Data Portability. We have a "Your Child, Your Content," policy which means that everything a parent puts into TotSpot they should be able to take out, take with them, and use with other services. Our API is a critical step in that effort. Parents will be able to allow external applications to communicate with TotSpot (both input/output) and easily manage the way their data is being shared/used in order to ensure privacy and safety. We hope parents use TotSpot to establish their child’s online identity and then plug external services into that.
Allen: What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Adam: Talk to as many smart people as you can – not just the ones with the flashy success. It’s often those who have had challenging experiences that provide the most insight. I bet that’s a bit cliché – but it’s still true.