Parents want their kids to check in with them wherever they are. But kids usually forget. That annoys parents and will often get the kids grounded.
Matthew Bromberg figured there was a better way to keep kids connected to their parents, without the nagging. Bromberg founded I’mOK, a startup that has created a mobile app designed to reward kids for staying in touch. If it catches on, it could tap into the market of devices aimed at reassuring parents about the safety of their children.
The company has raised $250,000 from Bromberg, former chief executive of tournament gaming firm Major League Gaming, and two angels: Allen Debevoise, CEO of Machinima.com, and Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president of mobile and international at Facebook.
The company has created an app that is now in private beta at Imok.com. With the app, kids can share their location, take pictures, tag friends, and otherwise tell parents what they’re doing. In exchange, they can earn points toward things that can be exchanged for rewards like allowance or special privileges.
Bromberg started the firm in October and has been joined by Julio Miyares, former chief technology officer of AOL Entertainment, and John Rabasa, who was most recently an executive at Publicis Modem USA. Besides running MLG, Bromberg was previously head of AOL Games, Moviefone, and Techweb.
The idea came from a conversation Bromberg had with his son that went like this:
Son: “I want a cell phone.”
Dad: “You are too young.”
Son: “But I am just going to use it to stay in touch with you.”
Bromberg wanted a way to make that promise real. To get good information throughout the day, he figured kids would need the incentive of a game mechanic. By comparison, text messages are the usual way kids stay in touch. But they’re cryptic and don’t give parents enough information. That leads to nagging or spying. The service will be live this summer.