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Sproutable Mobile App

A searchable video library that delivers applicable solutions to parenting challenges, with real families showing the tools in action.

Photo of Alanna Beebe
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

We have decided to launch the mobile app to a more specific niche: parents interested in Positive Discipline with children 1 to 5 years old, that are looking for help responding to challenging behaviors. We have a strong relationship with Positive Discipline and there’s a cohesive community already available to tap into. This decision came from our conversation with our mentor and the partnership we started with Positive Discipline. We also launched our first video-based online series (beta test) and are proving our concept and showing traction. We have received great feedback on the videos and content so far.

Name or Organization

Sproutable, Inc.

Geography

We are located in Seattle, however the mobile app can be used anywhere in the world.

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD

Type

  • For-profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

If every parent had access to, and could SEE, the instant answers that were trustworthy, grounded in science, actionable, and relatable they would feel confident in their parenting skills and be better equipped to grow strong family relationships and teach important life skills. The modern parent is time crunched. They utilize technology constantly to access information and make their lives easier. What if they had access to a hub of early learning expertise that could answer their most pressing question at the push of a button?

Select an Innovation Target

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

(Updated) Sproutable’s mobile app aims to deliver parenting tools for social and emotional challenges in the most accessible way, via videos on their mobile phone. We aim to meet two important needs: increase knowledge on social and emotional development and make this accessible. All content is based on Positive Discipline (Adlerian based, research backed parenting curriculum taught in over 55 countries), brain science and the latest child development research. Using this foundation, we have created video-based parenting information that grew from years of in-person classes and coaching. Their consistent feedback was that they wanted to put us on their shoulder at home, to have us with them whenever the behavior challenge arose. Our goal is to do just that: show them real moments, the tools that work and bring us into the palm of their hands via their mobile phone. We will expand our video library and move it onto a mobile application that any parent in the world can access by downloading the app. It will include short, under 5 minute videos that are organized by topic and searchable by parenting challenge. We will cover everything from feeding picky eaters, to calming tantrums, to stopping misbehavior, and leading family meetings. This app will act as a hub for early learning expertise. Just like parents trust Sesame Street for their kids, Sproutable will be the only “channel” they need. We cut through all the noise of parenting advice and offer one trustworthy solution.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

(Updated) Parents need trustworthy, expert information in a more accessible and relatable way. There’s so much noise when it comes to parenting advice, and not many products that are focused on helping parents teach social emotional skills to their children. Furthermore, humans learn by watching and doing, not by reading text or by being told how--they need to see it in action!

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

(Updated) We will build a mobile application where parents can find short video-based answers to their most pressing parenting challenges, with a particular focus on social and emotional development. This application will be easily searchable by topic, but will also offer suggested content based on specific search criteria. All content will be tailored to the age of child and each topic will be organized in a channel. Each channel will have an intro video (to introduce the topic), subject-based videos (specific parenting challenges) and supporting videos (brain science and child development tips). Users will be able to make videos their favorite, and then look up their favorites later. Users will be able to share content via Facebook messenger. We will also use their search criteria and mini quizzes to offer users other videos or topic areas. For example, if they are not using it to search for a specific answer, but just want to absorb and learn new skills, or if they aren’t sure where to start. We want to offer a variety of videos for all parenting styles. For parents who answer “yes” to “I’m interested in sleep training” we would offer videos for that. Whereas parents who answer “yes” to “we believe in co-sleeping as a family” we would guide them to videos on how to improve family sleep when sharing a bed. Alternatively, a user could immediately get an answer by clicking right on a channel. Examples: waddler throwing food, toddler tantrum, or infant biting. Using a light metric we will to track user data for evaluation and iteration. Application features document available upon request. Example: Channel: Siblings Subject-based videos: welcoming a new baby, growing a big brother or sister, when big siblings hurt the baby, when older child regresses, big emotions, finding time for partner, making dinner, getting out the door, self-care, sleep, etc. Supporting videos: the emotional brain, what their behavior is trying to communicate, the development of perspective taking, why social rejection feels the same as physical pain We have already identified an app developer, Friendly Vengeance, who has been vetted by experts in the field. We have professional videography and editing experience on our founding team and have already completed some video footage needed to launch. To develop the content, we will rely on the 8 years of experience we have testing it with our target market through in-person parenting classes, trainings and coaching. We have recently developed an online video based series, which has reinforced the great demand and need. Since its launch less than a month ago, our subscriber list grew from 400-900 and we have over 60 parents enrolled in the course. Our partnership with Positive Discipline (they are already an affiliate), and other leading experts and organizations that work directly with families of young children (for example PEPS Seattle and PIPS Austin) will help us to expand our reach and content. Both founders have a strong network for content review and iteration. We will continue to evaluate the usability and content with our customers themselves so that we find a content and technology solution that truly works for parents. Our goal is to create an app that solves real problems for parents and leads to positive behavior change, both in parents and children. This grant specifically will allow us to prove our concept and open the door to future funding opportunities and growth. Eventually, we will gain exposure and become a household name, something that you “must” do as part of the preparation for parenting. In the past, everyone read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. We will take this concept to the future, where parents proactively create their parenting plan. It’s commonplace to create a birth plan or a financial plan, but we want to normalize this idea of preparing for parenthood. With this new resource, parents will be able to access immediate, trusted answers at their fingertips. With improved parenting skills and confidence, parent-child relationships will be strengthened and toxic stress decreased. Children all over the world will have easier opportunities to build life skills, especially when it comes to social and emotional development. We will build a better world together.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

(updated) Our initial target market is English-speaking parents with children 1 to 5 years old that are looking for help responding to challenging behaviors. The Sproutable founders are both parents with early learning expertise: Julietta Skoog is a Positive Discipline Advanced Trainer, School Psychologist and School Counselor. She has been teaching parents through parenting classes and coaching in her own business for the last 8 years and is a sought out speaker in Seattle. Alanna Beebe has 10 years experience in public health and early learning communications. Alanna is a professional producer, videographer and editor. Our idea of video-based parent education was birthed from feedback, interviews and direct requests from both caregivers and parents the founders worked with in the past. Written survey feedback has been collected for 8 years both on delivery methods (e.g. video) and on topics or challenges parents wanted more information on. This has driven extensive content refinement and inspired different delivery options. Next, both experts and ideal customers were interviewed to determine their pain points, hopes, aspirations and thoughts on new products. Using all this feedback, we created a set of videos which were then reviewed by ideal customers. This feedback was used to create our first online video-based course (our beta test). We also completed a second round of ideal customer interviews and are preparing a pool of testers for the mobile app.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

*Up*Our goal is to change the way our society raises children. Instead of “flying by the seat of our pants” or “just doing what my parents did,” all new parents will increase their skills, knowledge and practice to better teach social and emotional skills to their young children. They will use the mobile app as a way of organizing the top skills they want to practice with their child at the time. They will share favorites with others in their social circles. This will change the way parents treat and speak to children, creating more calm, engaged, responsive, intentional and connected relationships. Children will learn life skills, regulate their emotions, and be more capable and cooperative. For example, by watching videos on how to cultivate a growth mindset and intrinsic motivation, their children will learn skills for responsibility, trying new things, and setting goals. As a result, power struggles, yelling, punishment, and negative interactions are reduced, which decreases toxic stress in both children and parents. We believe, we KNOW, that all parents love their children and want to do the best. Parenting is relentless and requires extremely sophisticated relationship skills. By practicing new skills and changing our language to change their behavior, adults can cultivate a new generation of children, and with that, the world. It’s just a matter of getting it to everyone in a way that they can take the knowledge and make their own script, language and family culture.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

We are committed to getting this information to all parents. By utilizing mobile technology we will have a wider reach and enough customers to bring down the cost and make it affordable for most. Parenting classes and coaching are not affordable or even feasible for all parents. This app would have a lower entry fee, so even low-income families could afford some access to information on our app. Furthermore, they won’t have to get childcare or have to make it to a scheduled event. Parents, even busy parents with multiple jobs and complicated lives, can log on from their phone whenever they have time. Our goal is to offer free subscriptions via nonprofit partners to reach families that need financial support. This would be done through a 1-to-1 program, where a purchase is made and we give one free subscription to a low-income family through a nonprofit partner. Nonprofit partners can also subsidize or pay for access for their clients. We are currently in talks with two parenting support nonprofits who are interested in partnering in the way, one in Seattle and another in Austin, Texas.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)

We plan on disrupting the parent education space. Video-based learning is what makes our concept innovative. The idea that showing someone what it looks like and sounds like - with real parents - increases the learning exponentially. There are many parenting videos out there with talking heads or classes where an expert tells you what to do, but showing is powerful. We have a vision that the future of learning becomes short, video-based, show-me style content.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

(Updated) Our first market is all parents in the world who speak English. There are 28 million parents in the United States alone. If only 30% of parents in the United States subscribed to our mobile application, we could make $28 million dollars a year. This market is huge. Smart phones are not just an accessory that wealthy people in the western world have access to. Smartphones are everywhere, internet is everywhere and so are our partners. We will leverage existing networks via affiliate marketing, starting with our Positive Discipline partnership (trainers in 55 countries around the world). We will also leverage our current subscriber list through referral marketing. The ultimate goal is to create content in many languages from all over the world. We will expand based on market research, especially to countries where there are active Positive Discipline trainers who can help create content in a culturally relevant way. We will not just translate or voice over information. Our plan is to make it in country, in language, in culture. This would be quite a financial undertaking for each language, making it a valid barrier to scalability, but that investment is minimal when you see the long-term financial opportunities in each marketplace.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

(Updated)Our biggest initial hurdle was the video development itself. We began working with local videographers but found not only was this extremely expensive but we also did not get the quality of footage with big crews and long shoot days. We wanted real life examples and working with children can be tricky to make them feel comfortable enough for it to read authentically on screen. In order to remedy this, our founder Alanna Beebe learned how to shoot and edit videos. We were able to get more content in shorter sessions and keep the shoots small and intimate. Because of this, our high quality scripts were easier to replicate. We are now able to do all the video production work in house (and it’s high quality!) and have solidified a strong network of other videographers and editors that could be contracted when we need to create large amounts of content in a short period of time. We have learned how to maximize the short attention span and comfort levels of our little actors. To date, we have been working on building the video library and testing it on a variety of parents, through weekly newsletters, online courses, and in-person classes. The Sproutable team is already capable of executing on the content development and we have many options for hiring content creators from our vast networks working in the field. We’ve been testing and refining the content over the last 8 years in our parenting classes, lectures and coaching. The Positive Discipline method is already being taught in 55 countries around the world, so we have confidence that the content will resonate globally. Furthermore, we have a strong partnership with the Positive Discipline Association (currently selling our online series) and their lead trainers around the globe. We are also lucky to be in the Seattle area specifically, where there are many experts and leading organizations and researchers close by (University of Washington, Gates Foundation, Bezos Foundation to name a few). Our goal is to partner with the leading experts in the field via affiliate programs and content creation in order to increase our reach. Building a strong marketing team will be instrumental in our future growth stage. We are developing our connections into this field and have just secured a high level mentor who specializes in global marketing. We will also rely on our female tech founder networks here in Seattle (we are already attending events and making connections). Our founder Alanna Beebe, is well connected to the startup community in Seattle via her husband who is a VC and managing director for an a startup accelerator. We’ve already spec’d out version 1 of the mobile application. We have just been waiting for resources and funding to execute. This initial investment into developing the mobile app will help us to prove traction in order to seek additional venture and angel funding. Investments will help us to scale but our subscription model will sustain our business.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)

Our business is unique, it’s the right timing (both from the technology perspective and content perspective) and customers are willing to pay. We do have a larger upstart cost to get the mobile app up and running, but from there the business will be funded and will grow from paying customers. We’ve also set up our company to be a C-corp and will fundraise to grow and iterate. Our biggest hurdle will be to test our subscription model to make sure we find the sweet spot between price point for the end user and business sustainability. For this, we will lean on our advisors (we have one in global marketing) and through soliciting feedback from our community (900+ from our newsletter alone) and customers.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)

When we first heard the idea of human centered design, we weren’t familiar with the term. However, after looking into the toolkit provided by OpenIDEO we realized we had been doing this all along. Our original idea was birthed from feedback we received from parents and caregivers during trainings and coaching. We tested and iterated our content over the many years of serving this community. When we started Sproutable, we tested our first videos with potential customers and used this feedback to create our first online series. We’ve also conducted interviews with parents and experts and continued to ask for feedback. We are currently starting a tester pool to get more in-depth feedback on our online video series and our mobile app pilot. We found great tools (e.g. User Experience Map, determine what to prototype) in the User Experience and Feedback toolkit and the Human Centered Design toolkit that we plan to use now and when launching the mobile application. See user experience map attached.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

I’m Julietta Skoog, co founder of Sproutable. I have spent the last 15 years as a school psychologist in Seattle, with a strong focus on early education. I also have a masters in school counseling and completed the advanced training with the Positive Discipline Association. I have a bustling education business teaching parents seven week classes, leading workshops, and training teachers on trauma informed practices. I have the privilege of speaking in front of international audiences and as the returning keynote speaker to over 200 educators; as a retired professional dancer I love this “performance” of inspiring and energizing the audience. As a mama myself, I have 9 years of experience with the relentlessness and reality of parenting life. Adding a deep mindfulness practice to work and home was a game changer for me and has helped me bridge knowing what to do and actually doing it- responding to children effectively. I heard parents and teachers say time and time again, “I wish I could have a little Julietta on my shoulder in the moment.” I wanted them to SEE it in action so they could have those mini performances at home. I felt that there was something brewing but couldn’t quite put my finger on it….and then my neighbor Alanna called over from our shared porch that fateful August morning. That was me. I’m Alanna Beebe, the founder of Sproutable. I’ve spent my life committed to getting information to those who need it the most. I now have a 14 month old son, and I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in early learning on a statewide quality improvement program for child care providers (birth-to-five), so I knew where to start my research to becoming the best parent I could be. But, when I looked for a mobile app or a website or something to find all this information in one place - that was actually digestible, usable...I couldn’t find it! I knew there was so much great research and information but it just wasn’t accessible. So I reached out to my neighbor, Julietta, because I wanted to see a solution that all parents or caregivers can use to help their children reach their highest potential. We decided to team up and create Sproutable. There are enough obstacles in the way for our young ones and the research show us that building a strong foundation in these first 5 years can set a child up for success for the rest of their lives. For me, Sproutable is just one answer to helping children become amazing adults and amazing caretakers of this world we live in. Imagine what humans would create in this world if we all had the opportunity to grow to our fullest potential?

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

We have a company who can build the mobile application ready to go when we have the funding. We already have a strong network of experts in the parenting education world. There are limitless possibilities here, however. Partnerships with anyone who works directly with children and families would be beneficial (e.g. pediatricians, non-profits, associations). A large scale partner such as PBS or Sesame Street would be astronomically helpful.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

We need support in online and social media marketing. Parents are using Google and Facebook as primary ways to connect and get information. These are strong channels for us to market and we need expertise to help us deliver. We could also use support in app development, especially in user experience. We need our app to be a great experience for users and we do not have this expertise on our team. While we have limitless ideas for content, we could use more support in ways to turn the videos and content into even stronger visual packages- things like animation, graphics and general cinematography tricks. We feel confident in our content, and need the technical expertise to elevate our current database and website to match the quality of the information we provide.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)

App development & user experience Social media marketing & business modeling

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

Sproutable's website: www.besproutable.com Online video series: sproutable.teachable.com YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCoMEvSs7xeQ50cpdJty76_Q Alanna Beebe's LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanna-beebe-5027967/

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

See attached prototype for our app workflow and mockups. Full content list available upon request.

Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)

Our mentor helped us to better articulate the problem we are trying to solve and our strengths. He helped us to zone in on a subpopulation we could target first with launch of this new app. Our ultimate goal is to reach all parents, but by choosing a specific target of parents looking to solve challenging behaviors we can be more focused on our content, marketing and business overall.

4 comments

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Spam
Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku
Team

Hey Alanna Beebe and Julietta, Welcome to the Early Childhood Innovation Prize. We're thrilled to host your idea and help it grow further. I enjoyed reading your description of the Sproutable and positive parenting. Since you are looking for help in user experience, I wanted to highlight to you that we have developed a few useful toolkits to help innovators like yourself. I think that out User Experience and Feedback Toolkit (https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/f6c373c2-6bd0-4ae5-bc75-68df8ba8fb25.pdf) could give you a valuable insight the value of understanding the user experience and fed methods on how to collect the necessary feedback.Take a look and let me know what you think.

Best regards,
Iliriana

Spam
Photo of Alanna Beebe
Team

Thank you Iliriana! We'll check out the toolkit for sure.

Spam
Photo of Alanna Beebe
Team

Hi Iliriana! I just wanted to follow up and let you know that we've already implemented many of the strategies found in your toolkit and found some new ideas for our next phase. This also helped me to articulate how we've used customer feedback to create our company, our original content and now our pilot. Thank you so much for sending! This is going to strengthen our application and our product. Cheers!

Spam
Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku
Team

Hey Alanna Beebe 
Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring feedback with us. I am so glad the toolkits have helped you identify new opportunities for your idea. Please share your progress on the updates as we'd love to read them. And am certain the community of EC Prize innovators will be curious to read about them, too.

Best regards,
Iliriana