Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with J. Andrew (“Andy”) Zurcher, the co-founder and CEO of Kidiosity. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Andy! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Kidiosity?
Andy: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! For starters, I noticed how busy life is for today's parents. We see that 78% of parents wish they had more time available to spend with their kids, and 82% feel like their children are growing up far too quickly. Unfortunately, quality time is rare and increasingly hard to find. Although 94% of parents believe creating lifelong memories with their kids is very important, 70% constantly worry about not creating enough.
Spiffy: That sounds like quite a challenge! What motivated you to tackle it?
Andy: As parents, my co-founder and I found ourselves caught up in our phones, hectic schedules, and the general craziness of our lives. We realized that while we were trying to keep up at this frenetic pace, one of the first things to fall off the plate was the intentional, quality time with our kids. That wasn't acceptable to us, so we decided to use technology to reduce our increasing dependence on…technology.
Spiffy: Ha! That is clever. How would you say you and your team at Kidiosity are working towards a more equitable world?
Andy: We want to inspire a love of learning in all children. And we want to create deeper connections between parents and their children, making it easy for parents to add more "quality" to the time they spend with their loved ones. Research shows that parent involvement in education leads to greater student success and increased confidence. Children with families engaged in their education are more likely to have better social skills and classroom behavior; earn higher grades and test scores; graduate from high school and attend post-secondary education; and develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your audience?
Andy: We recently launched the ability for parents to schedule alerts, or reminders, for themselves. These are notifications that appear on your mobile phone to provide a gentle "nudge" at the appointed time to encourage parents to consider wrapping up whatever they are doing and taking some time with their kids. This feature helps parents turn an intention (we all want to be better parents) into an action and actually do something about it. Many of these reminders are set in the 4-6 PM time range, to help working parents balance their work time with their family time. Other parents have set their reminders to occur just before mealtime or bedtime, when they access our daily conversation starter to prompt a meaningful discussion.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Andy: The journey of starting a company from scratch is fraught with uncertainty, and mistakes are plentiful. We are learning every day and consistently plagued with questions about whether we can make this work. It's the most challenging thing we've ever done—it will challenge you in more ways than you thought possible. But, it’s an incredible opportunity to learn, and it’s extremely rewarding to dedicate yourself to something you believe in. And whether your business ends up successful or not, I think that’s a journey worth taking.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Andy: Studies show that parents who spend as little as five minutes of quality/special time per day can have a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem, behavior, communication, and social skills. It doesn't take hours and hours of "perfect" parenting every day. And that brings to light a favorite quote that comes from Sue Atkins, a British speaker, author, and parenting coach. She said, “There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. So, just be a real one.” I think that’s perfect.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Andy—it’s been an honor!
Andy Zurcher is the co-founder and CEO of Kidiosity. He is a leader and father of four with 20+ years of experience building products and helping to build companies. (Nominated by Jing Herman of 28Muses. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 10, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.