Two-and-a-half minutes to boost a business
June 22, 2012
Renat Gataullin and Martin Drashkov had only two-and-a-half minutes to impress 500 of Silicon Valley’s top investors with their latest business venture – Kytephone. The first and only app of its kind, it helps parents monitor and control their children’s phone use by transforming their Android devices into child-friendly smartphones.
After spending three intense months at the Y Combinator, a start-up accelerator in California that provides promising entrepreneurs with seed funding and access to some of the brightest minds in the tech business, Gataullin and Drashkov were able to transform their concept into an innovative new product.
“By the time I got in front of investors on demo day, I had everything down. Since I knew my stuff, the feeling of being in front of 500 investors made me feel excited rather than nervous,” said Drashkov, co-founder of Kytephone. Gataullin and Drashkov were so successful with their presentation that caught the attention of many investors and were able to quickly close a seed round.
At the Y Combinator headquarters, Gataullin and Drashkov were not only assisted in further developing their Kytephone idea, but were also taught how to pitch to potential investors. They even had the pleasure of picking the brains of Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, and Ron Conway, Silicon Valley's most prolific startup investor, at weekly dinners organized by the Y Combinator. Since 2005, the Y Combinator has funded over 460 startups including Reddit, DailyBooth, Xobni and Omgpop.
Drashkov and Gataullin are also the founders of Scanly, an app that allows students to find exclusive student discounts around campus. They decided to change their original business and transform the smartphone market into a kid-friendly zone through an app. Kytephone gives parents full control of who their children talk to and what games they can play.
“We decided to try something riskier, more novel, more technologically advanced and potentially a much bigger business,” said Drashkov. “Parents don't feel comfortable giving young children such a powerful device. With Kytephone, kids can get the smartphone they want, while parents get the peace of mind they need.”
After their stint at the Y Combinator, the Kytephone team returned to Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone where they had started out with Scanly. At the DMZ, they continue to develop their app that allows parents to control every aspect of their child’s phone from who they can call and what apps they can access. Parents can manage all the phone activity online and can even track their child’s whereabouts with an up-to-the-minute GPS system. The most recent update allows children to tap into their Android’s camera capabilities and snap photos, which are immediately shared with their parents.
The app was an instant winner with parents and senior citizens thanks to its simple and vibrant interface. Although the app was made available to Android users in April, Kytephone was officially launched and welcomed into the DMZ in early June.