If you don’t think generic social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace are appropriate for the little ‘uns, you’re probably right. That’s why there are sites which cater specifically to the young, like YourSphere in the United States, as well as Singapore-based LittleLives (www.littlelives.com).
According to founder Sun Ho, LittleLives is created as an ecosystem that brings children together to build global friendships and ignite collaboration, and aims to be one-stop shop for all things education and for children. “Together with their educators, they can share, learn and connect with schools around the world,” says Ho. “LittleLives is built specially for children and is safe. Our focus is to revolutionize education technology to empower educators and make it fun for the kids at the same time.”
World Without Borders – For Kids
Ho was inspired to start LittleLives as she envisioned “a world without borders” for kids to learn and share. And since Facebook‘s age restriction excluded young children, a site like LittleLives can attract those kids who want their own space to interact and something to call their own. “While providing an environment for children is important, the more important part was to ensure that adult supervision was put in place, without making the children feel like they were being monitored,” Ho says. “We really had to study how parents and teachers took care and safeguarded children, and replicate that in an online environment.”
She says that this space has been been getting a lot of interest, especially in the United States with the likes of Club Penguin, for example. She thinks that it’s a growing opportunity in Asia, especially with the region’s strong emphasis by parents for good quality education. A major challenge for a site like LittleLives would be user turnover, since their users will most likely migrate to platforms such as Facebook as they come of age. “Providing long term value to our users is key,” Ho insists.
Ho – a computer science graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with more than a decade’s worth of experience in both programming and business – shares that she’s tried to put together a team with strengths that complement and build upon each other. “The rest of the team brings together expertise ranging from technology and systems to design and animation,” she says.
“Most of us have prior startup experience and have started pioneer free education sites, social networks, productivity apps and games,” adding that most of the team have “battle scars to show” and own startup stories under their belt. “It makes us stronger and mature enough to handle the challenges we face.”
LittleLives is currently running a developer challenge to unearth more talent from the region. “We wanted to find a way to give back to the community, as well as source for some of the best talents in the region,” Ho explains. “For us, the developer challenge isn’t just a way to hire developers – winners are free not to join LittleLives if they wish, and non-winners are free to apply to our company.”
Ho adds that there are many good developers around the world. “I think the real challenge is finding a worthwhile project for good developers to work on. A genuinely fun, challenging and worthwhile project.”