Seeing a need for content that connects families through play, a group of Silicon Valley alumni have banded together to form The OK Company. Its first-ever app, OK Play, launches worldwide today in the App Store and on Google Play.
The goal with the app is to have families use their screen time to work out their emotions and interact with each other in a play-based way.
Aimed at three- to six-year-olds and their parents, OK Play’s activities run the gamut from going on a scavenger hunt for emotions, to making a cooking show, to creating a song about being angry. The free app also has a subscription-based model (US$9.99 per month or US$59.99 annually), which gives families unlimited access to its activities and content, as well as the ability to share and store photos.
The OK Company is made up of a cadre of tech industry vets, including: JJ Aguhob, former product strategy and design consultant for meditation app Headspace; Chris Ovitz, former co-founder of hiring-focused tech platform Workpop; former Snap Inc. execs Travis Chen and Ken Chung; and Sinking Ship’s former head of research, Colleen Russo Johnson.
Moving from adult-skewing techcos to targeting kids hasn’t been without its challenges for the group, but they have insight into making engaging content from their previous jobs, which has helped them build a unique product, says Aguhob.
The team wanted to make an app that would give kids the best possible chance of absorbing the messages and learnings, and so they leaned on the research of a scientific advisory board and co-founder/chief scientist Russo Johnson, who found that kids learn better when their parents are engaged with the content as well, says Aguhob.
It’s a good time to launch the app, adds Ovitz, who believes OK Play will help support kids who are lacking social interaction due to COVID-19 restrictions at school and fewer playdates. He also sees a market for apps that help connect the young mobile-first generation of parents with their kids, while providing an opportunity to de-stress.
Since 2019, The OK Company has raised US$11 million in funding from the likes of LEGO Ventures and Collab+Sesame. Many of the companies supporting OK did so because they want to find new ways of getting families playing together, says Russo Johnson. Some of these companies, including LEGO, provided additional research into the importance of play for both adults (who sometimes need reminders to take time and engage with their kids) and children (who often benefit academically from involved parental relationships), she adds.
Looking forward, the co-founders see opportunities in expanding beyond their original three-to-six target demo to reach older kids. And while North America is the current geographic focus for the team, they are also thinking of ways to localize content to help grow the app’s reach abroad. While the app just launched, Aguhob says if it takes off, he see big opportunities in expanding into augmented reality to create new forms of engagement.
“By building something that’s fun, but also driven by our mission of connecting parents with kids at a time when they need to connect more than ever, we’re confident families will also connect with us,” he says.