New York startup FamilyRibbon doesn’t think there are enough grandmas on Facebook. Actually what they are really doing is trying to make it easier for beginning users to learn how to use Facebook. Yes, there are still plenty of people out there without a Facebook account. Just think how much your buubie is missing by not being on Facebook.
FamilyRibbon isn’t just about Facebook though. Their suite of apps called the EasyFamily AppSuite, is a total 7 in 1 app solution for beginners which takes the complexity out commonly used computer apps that we take for granted like Skype, email, photo albums, reminders and yes of course Facebook.
The suite of apps includes:
Easy Skype, Albums and Call-Back Requests
Quick and easy launch of Skype, Facetime, Flickr, Picasa and Facebook photo albums in easy interface. Call back request emails and texts sent with just one click.
Easy Facebook and VideoEmail® with Security Features
Facebook app with ‘Safe Mode’ designed for beginners. Email audio and video messages in just one click. The email ‘whitelist’ feature offers extra security.
Medication & Appointment Reminders & More!
Make sure medication is taken as scheduled – if a reminder has been ignored a family member will be notified by text or email.
Remote Administration and Illustrated User Guides
Manage reminders, photos, contacts, websites and even view app screenshots, all from another computer! Print our easy-to-follow user guide.
We got a chance to talk to the team at FamilyRibbon, check out the interview below:
What is your startup, what does it do?
The goal of EasyFamilyApps.com is to develop easy apps for beginner users – such as grandma and grandpa. The goal is to enable your aging parents to start using Facebook within a short period of time, to inspire them, and to make them part of the online community.
Our easy-to-use apps allow beginner users to socialize on Facebook, check email, make video calls, view online photo albums, and browse web pages. EasyFamily Social® and EasyFamily AppSuite® apps make it easy and safe to stay in touch online.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Ivan Osadchiy – founder, CEO
I am personally invested in helping seniors get online. When my father was admitted to the hospital, I found no simple tech solutions that would allow him to stay connected with the family. How could Dad see his newborn granddaughter thousands of miles away?
Mykola Komarevskyy – co-founder, CTO
I hope that our apps will help our parents to feel closer to us and have fun online. Apps like ours are especially important when there is distance between family members. For many years, I lived in a completely different time-zone than my mother and she really missed being able to contact me. She is now beta testing the app and is so excited that she can now keep in touch whenever she wants and she loves sending and receiving messages.
Where are you based?
The startup is based in New York City, New York and affiliated with PlugAndPlayTechcenter.com – a SF accelerator.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Fast-paced, time and focus demanding work. The three key success factors that must be embedded in the startup culture are (1) teamwork, (2) rigorous prioritization, and (3) communication. Teamwork ensures that things happen. Prioritization ensures that the tasks with the highest potential are executed, as there is always more work on the plate that can be “eaten”. Communication is vital to convince investors, build partnerships, and engage prospects and users.
What problem does your startup solve?
It allows any Grandma get on Facebook
⁃ In 30 minutes
⁃ Easy and Safe
Please also take a look at the video: http://GrandmaOnFacebook.org, and the infographic attached – for additional information, numbers, and sources. Separate slides are available at http://bit.ly/ZKQgFZ.
We conducted some research and found out that 40% of women over 60 live alone and 7 million U.S. seniors are not mobile and face isolation. In addition, multiple studies by top faculty at the University of Chicago, Harvard and Stanford have suggested that isolation significantly increases health risks.
We realized then there was a great need for an easier and safer set of applications for the older generation so that family communication – easy video calls, e-mail, Facebook, online albums, etc. – could flourish, and loneliness and isolation problems that strongly affect seniors could be reduced.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
The area that was surprisingly challenging was finding the most effective marketing channels for seniors and their families. This is where predecessors have failed.
Seniors rely almost exclusively on expensive traditional media and word of mouth, and that takes a long time to build. Their children – our generation – is nicknamed “sandwich mothers / fathers,” as we try to balance our careers with taking care of both our children and our parents. Competition for our time is fierce – being heard over clutter requires creativity and making products as viral as possible.
Some of the tools we’ve found effective include:
Reaching out to B2B channel partners. We were approached by tech schools requesting permission to use and promote our applications with their students
Piloting with a retirement community
Direct-to-consumer marketing and the use of SEO/SEM (optimizing your website to improve your standing in search results)
We’re employing a combination of word of mouth, viral marketing, and traditional channels.
What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?
We have raised seed funding and a follow-on bridge round from the existing investors. Thanks to this investment, the two apps EasyFamily Social® and EasyFamily AppSuite® for iPad and Windows computers were released. Remote administration is also available for the EasyFamily AppSuite®. Family members can manage user’s account from any device via easy web interface – they can update the address book, add and review medication reminders, upload family photos, view user’s screenshots etc.
What are your next milestones?
Our next milestone is to complete the Android version of the EasyFamily Social® app for Facebook – to make it the best Mother’s and Father’s Day gift for parents. The “17 Million Grandmas on Facebook” crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo will help us to raise the funds necessary to complete the job.
Several users and organizations asked when we were going to release the Android versions of our apps. Android tablets are the most affordable choice and are ideal for low income families, charity and educational organizations.
We hope that with the release of the Android version of the easy and safe Facebook app, many more Grandmas will join Facebook and will reach the 17 million mark sooner.
Readers can help us to achieve the milestone by supporting the “17 Million Grandmas on Facebook” campaign or by helping their Mom or Grandma to join Facebook!
Who are your mentors and role models?
Sir Richard Branson, our role model, supports the “17 Million Grandmas on Facebook” Indiegogo effort. He provided hand-signed “Elders Rock!” and “Screw Business As Usual” inscriptions, with which we’ll reward our backers at www.GrandmaOnFacebook.org.
Mary Furlong – MFA & SeniorNet founder, aging expert – is helping us to develop the right solution for grandparents.
Jim Tobias – Inclusive Technologies, Strategies and Stakeholders at RaisingtTheFloor.org; accessibility expert – provided valuable feedback on usability of our apps.
We also work with senior tech schools, including Jane Ratliff from Blue Hair Technology Group to polish user experience.
We are grateful to our mentors and are honored to work with them.
What are some of the advantages/disadvantages growing your startup outside of Silicon Valley?
Physical location of the team is less relevant these days. Silicon Valley would probably provide more opportunities to meet potential investors face-to-face and to hear more about experiences of fellow entrepreneurs and experts. However, in the era of LinkedIn, Skype, and broadband connections, entrepreneurs can meet the necessary people from any location to achieve its investment, business development and learning objectives.
What’s next for your startup?
Getting 17 million grandmas on Facebook! :-)
We hope that people will help their parents and grandparents to join Facebook this Mother’s day.
We’ll work hard to make www.GrandmaOnFacebook.org a success that will make the easy and safe Facebook app available for even more grandmas – on the affordable Android platform.
Where can people find out more, and what is your Twitter username?