You know how it can be time consuming and pretty stressful to organise a family holiday?
Well, Bound Round travel guides take some of the pressure off adults by letting kids uncover all the fun things to do in a location. Using photos, video, stories and games, Bound Round interactive travel apps are a travel planning tool for kids, that lets them earn a vote in family travel decisions (and gives the parents some well-earned quiet time)!
Fifteen months ago Bound Round didn’t exist. I had no experience in the travel industry. I’d never worked in publishing. Nor did I have any experience creating apps. Actually, I wasn’t even a big app user and I didn’t own an iPad. And to top it off, I’m not a teacher and I don’t have kids.
So what made me think it was a good idea to start a business that produces interactive travel guides for kids?
On reflection, there are 3 things that have allowed me to create, launch and grow a business that, based on past experience, I was completely unqualified for.
1. Know the gap you’re trying to fill
On a flight from London to Sydney, the English kids next to me were asking their parents lots of questions about what they’d do when they arrived. The parents didn’t have answers that satisfied the kids and the three youngsters got off the plan complaining that Sydney was going to be boring and they didn’t want to be there.
I was devastated. How could anyone not be excited about visiting Sydney?
So I threw myself into research. What information was available for kids travelling to Sydney? Who was creating the content and what did it look like?
The short answer to my research is that there’s very little for kids to immerse themselves in. There’s loads of information for travelling parents but not much for the kids to read or watch themselves. And what’s more, there was nothing digital.
I’d found my gap and panic set in.
What if someone was about to launch exactly my business idea? I realised I needed to move more quickly than I could on my own (and that I had pretty much none of the key skills needed to create this new business).
It was time to build a team. That was something I’d done before. The panic receded.
2. Surround yourself with people who have the skills you’re missing
I used my existing network, but because I was branching into a completely different space, I needed to broaden my search. Cold-calling authors of books and articles that I’d found useful in my research, was both confronting and rewarding. I was surprised by the extremes of the reactions. From no response, to people willing to Skype, phone or meet for coffee to share experiences and open their networks to help me find the right people.
The result: I was (and still am) surrounded by people who had the experience I lacked when I started. There’s my mentor, an award winning kids book app publisher. A development team who specialise in kids apps. A travelling-with-kids content and PR specialist.
And most importantly kids.
Throughout most of my previous career, I needed to work closely with the customers of a product or service. Customer feedback has always been central to what I’ve done, but I had no idea how to bring that to life with kids; particularly because I don’t have any.
It was a publisher of children’s travel guides in the UK who told me about the kids board meeting she’d run in her business. She didn’t have kids either, and had faced a similar dilemma.
I had a solution. Create a kids board that would help make sure we were creating a product that kids would want to use.
3. Immerse yourself in your target market
Throughout the development of Bound Round I bounced ideas off friends’ kids and the kids of my team. It was invaluable to get their input and it’s changed the way the final product works.
Our initial concept was for a very polished app. But the kids we talked to wanted to have more than a conversation about what they did and didn’t like. They wanted to create content and develop the ideas further.
The finished products have videos created by kids, narration by an 11-year old and we’re in the process of building-in new games designed by our Kids Board. The Kids Board Members get to be in the app, blog about their travels and attend board meetings once a quarter. Some of the kids have travelled with us as we research new locations, and we’re growing the board as we grow the business.
I made what I’m sure a number of my friends and family thought were crazy decisions. And, to be honest, I think it was a healthy dose of naivety that helped get me through. But once I knew there really was a gap in the market and surrounded myself with people who could help me, creating Bound Round was child’s play.