Parenting is not an easy job, more so in this digital age. Parents are always in a dilemma – should they grant their children the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, or shelter them while they are exploring the various facets of their life. With the pace social network is invading our lives things will only get worse for the parents.
Rajeev Gupta and Ashish Trivedi spent many sleepless nights worrying about the day their kids go online to explore it without the filters. Both sensed the need for a platform for meaningful private social network experience for their families. They felt parents should hand hold their children in this vast un-curated open social world on the web.
Why did they build this platform?
Safety, privacy and usefulness were some of the elements that drove them to create a social platform called, GeckoLife, for the entire family to interact with each other, and at the same time keep its content private. Gupta and Trivedi realized that children are getting exposed to the digital world at a very young age, and they were concerned that the children were leaving behind a trail of digital footprint that could pose a danger. They started building the platform with provisions to let parents control and monitor their children keeping privacy and safety as the hallmark of this platform.
Even as adults, we do realise that many events, comments or even photos we share on the open web aren’t relevant to everyone on our network. Social networks are changing the prose of communication. With GeckoLife, they are attempting to assure usefulness of social networks and try making them more structured. The social networks of today are one single co-mingled timelines. But both the founders strongly believe that social conversations should be ordered by subject or by specified audiences. This not only creates heightened relevance but also allows one to search and archive content more effectively.
GeckoLife is new social platform apt for families and groups to have safe and crisp communications to collaborate among them on topics of interest. The platform also provides a new and viable option for pre-teen parents with the ability to oversee all connections, engagement and online content that their children have access to.
The founders are very focused on their stand for privacy and safety and won’t comprise it for alternate channels of monetization. The team has been considering various channels, including -
Sponsorship: Enterprises are interested in tapping the ‘family unit’. Accordingly, they intend to allow family orientated enterprises and organizations to create sponsored events on GeckoLife.
Groups: Charge groups and schools on a per user basis. Gecko becomes the tool for customer care (vis-a-vis, customer acquisition).
Family user: Add storage features for albums and data files that will become a revenue source.
Commerce: Percentage share sales; products and services.
Apps: revenue share. Over time they will partner with app providers, perhaps in learning or gamification. Their apps on Gecko would entail revenue split.
Brands will be offered a different type of platform to reach GeckoLife’s audience. We do not allow banner advertising on the platform, as we are COPPA compliant as of now. Rather, we believe in brands building canvases that revolve around events, or the like. For instance, a multi-national sporting goods company could create a canvas around an upcoming international sports event. This allows the dissemination of valuable content, while at the same time ‘branding’ the company. The GeckoLife Canvas is the forum to seek out areas of interest for users.
The early responses to the platform seem to be quite good with users in 10 countries, with India being the dominant market. GeckoLife’s value is family, and hence markets like India are critical for long-term success. They completed the initial angel investment round in 2013 from angels in Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, Australia and the Middle East. They have also closed another round of investment from the Singapore government’s fund, JFDI.
Social networks to socially disconnected in real life
Social networks have become an avenue for extreme confidence. At times, people in the burst of emotion do share their honest feelings online without considering the ramifications. It is also very often an outlet for projection of a false self-image. All of us have to agree about the ‘disconnect’ with real life owing to various reasons, including oversharing of our life events. But the GeckoLife team believes that social network needs to be streamlined and more importantly one needs to agree that ‘less is more’.
Rajeev believes that,
One doesn’t need to document what they eat, what they wear, where they are -- as some social platforms allow. We strongly advocate creating, sharing and storing the more important aspects of ones lives online. A holiday or a sports game is not relevant to all your online connections; so don’t share everything with everyone. On GeckoLife, share what you want, with whom you want. In many ways, we are attempting to replicate real life but extending and strengthening its capabilities of memory keeping and archiving.
Social networks of future
Owing to the amount of time we spend daily on social networks, we have forgotten that social network isn’t an age-old industry; it’s just 10 years old. The perception of being always available socially has made us believe that we have existed here for ages.
Sharing his learnings, Rajeev says,
We have only scratched the surface of what social is, and how it will be used. The gorilla in the room has 1.3bn users. That is a lot. However, it is still only 15% global population penetration. With device availability and ubiquitous access, we believe there is abundant growth in the sector.
The founders believe that the world will move towards seeking greater privacy and micro-networks targeted towards interest driven groups of people. Social networks will become more meaningful and useful. There will be no one-size-fits-all. GeckoLife’s focus will be family orientated with safety and privacy at its core.
Are children okay with parental control?
As adults, there is always a feeling that children need a ‘guarded’ experience but one can’t be sure of it unless verified. Have we ever asked children if they want the surveillance?
Though we won’t let our children go on a busy street for the first time without supervision, we surely want them to become confident of crossing the road later. Similarly, parents can handhold children online for a small period of time, but this cannot be a permanent solution.
In an ideal world, a parent can release settings such that the child, once educated and responsible, can have an independent existence on such private social networks like GeckoLife.
Website - GeckoLife