Designing An App to Help Endangered Kids Grow Up in a Healthy Environment

Introduction

Many countries around the world contain specific locations, or neighborhoods that live in poverty. Children growing up in these neighborhoods are susceptible to crime, drugs and prison.

What if we could focus on the healthy connections in these children’s lives? We all know how important meaningful people and communities are in our everyday lives, this is probably even more so for kids that are at risk. I think we could drastically improve these kids’ lives for the better, driving a powerful global impact.

I’d like to offer a potential app that could solve this problem, and suggest an MVP to provide a solution: CommChat — Community Chat.

CommChat helps kids and teenagers focus on the healthy connections by creating healthy communities, leading to kids growing up in healthier environments with a brighter future.

CommChat is a community focused messenger app, which allows for community creation, led by parents and teachers or other healthy role models. These communities include guidance, overall support and growth activities.

Thinking about it from a teacher’s perspective, education and a healthy environment should not end when leaving the classroom, rather, it should be continuous and ever-present.

Volunteer helping child with the help of technology

Users

Let’s figure out who the users of our app would be:

User Segmentation and Pain Points

  1. Kids and teenagers living in poor neighborhoods. Aged 10 — 18:
  • Kids living in dangerous neighborhoods lack guidance in their lives. They look up to older brothers and friends whom may not be there or be a bad influence
  • Witness bad influences around them, gangs/drugs
  • These kids aren’t getting enough quality education
  • Kids may be in danger and don’t have anyone to ask for help
  • Some days kids don’t arrive to school, could be a long walk or no one to drive them, or no reason at all.

2. Teachers, role models and volunteers

  • Would like to make sure kids are safe
  • Would like to have a connection with kids outside of the classroom to help them grow with a good education

Hypothesis

I believe that kids growing up in poverty lack guidance, safety and healthy communities.

If they had a community focused messaging app, it would help them receive guidance, education and they would grow up in a safer environment.

Market Research

1 billion children live in poverty, according to UNICEF.

60% of this number represents children aged 1–10 which aren’t the focus for this app => we’re down to 400m

60% of the world doesn’t have access to internet. To make a bit of a leap, let’s assume that 30% don’t have access to both a smartphone and to internet.

https://www.unicef.org/social-policy/child-poverty

Some quick facts:

Child Poverty Data from UNICEF

Competitive Landscape

Facebook

Perhaps the most popular social platform, Facebook contains a lot of social features and contains groups that can be leveraged to use for these types of activities

Cons:

  • Common to have many friends that you don’t stay in touch with, or inactive groups.
  • Isn’t very intimate, can be easy to get ‘lost’ with all the different options, might be difficult to be consistent in FB groups.
  • Doesn’t have learning or education focused tools

Whatsapp (and other messaging tools)

Whatsapp contains group chat and allows for community and general messaging

Cons:

  • Is a general messaging app, not neccessarily community focused or mentor focused
  • Doesn’t provide education or mentorship tools

Google Classroom/Canvas K-12

Powerful learning tools to help teachers work with students in a classroom like experience.

Cons:

  • Focuses solely on the classroom, isn’t very community like outside of that

After reviewing the competition, it seems that CommChat’s competitive edge is that it falls on the seam between growth, education and community. It creates a powerful connection between community members and the community leaders/mentors. It allows for lightweight education and helping kids and teenagers grow in an interactive way. It can be incorporated with school, but is powerful outside the classroom.

MVP Features

In order to solve the aforementioned pain points, I’d prioritize the features based on the impact the features have and the development time of each one.

The top 3 features for the MVP are marked in bold:

Text messaging and creating communities that are focused on a healthy environment are at the core of the app. An emergency help button is easy to implement, so those are the features I’d start with for the MVP.

As the app evolves, we can add important features such as auto sending SMS messages for those who don’t have internet access, or creating features that promote education within the app’s communities, such as daily facts to learn from.

Wireframe Design

Here are some simple wireframes demonstrating the feel of how the chatting experience could be like. In these examples you can see different kids talking in the community and privately with a teacher. The last screen demonstrates how an assignment screen might look like.

3 basic screens including different chat types and assignments
3 screen examples including different chat types and assignments

Go To Market

Some options may include:

  • Contact governments and city municipalities for contracts, this may include providing cheap phones and internet for kids who don’t have access
  • Contact volunteers and teachers who’d like to help kids and struggling neighborhoods
  • Contact human rights organizations

Metrics

In order to gauge the success of this app, there are multiple metrics to dive into:

The first metrics I’d look at are adoption metrics:

  • Number of government/city contracts
  • Number of app downloads
  • Number of first messages per user

After the adoption stage, I’d look at engagement metrics to understand which features to improve/create:

  • Number of communities created
  • Daily active users — messages sent per day per user
  • Feedback from users to assess

And finally CSAT scores to understand how the users feel about the app: parents, teachers/volunteers and the kids.

Drawbacks

There are multiple drawbacks and difficulties for the CommChat app:

Difficulty for kids and teenagers to get enough access time on a phone with internet

Depending on the geographic area the kids are located, some locations may not have internet, cellular networks, or smartphones. Even if they do, phones may get stolen or broken, and maintenance and charging the phone could be an issue. Kids that do have access to phones, may be sharing it with friends or family, and won’t have enough meaningful access time.

Some solutions may be: providing donated phones to kids, and offering SMS features so that internet access won’t be a barrier.

Kids may not have enough motivation to be part of a community and won’t want to hear anything regarding homework or contact with teachers.

Many kids and teenagers have the ‘Too cool for school’ approach, they aren’t interested in learning or getting help from mentors.

Adoption/Competition

Google, Facebook, Whatsapp, are all powerful brand names and the default social networks that people use. Acquiring new users on to our platform and getting them to use it will be challenging.

However, kids that want to learn, or institutions that want to push kids in the right direction, may help make this app a priority and emphasize its significance.

Summary

In summary, I think CommChat offers a powerful, community based solution to children and teenagers alike, whom face the difficulties of poverty on a day to day basis. This solution would offer strong, role model based communities that would help set a better direction for the rest of these kids’ lives. Whether it would be strengthening the connection between a teacher, volunteer, or any other type of role model, or even connecting kids with role models from around the world, there is plenty of potential to help these kids grow.

There are so many people out there that would love to volunteer and help kids in need, and I do believe this platform offers a way to do just that.

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Entrepreneur and Product Manager

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Daniel Tannor

Daniel Tannor

Entrepreneur and Product Manager

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