7. August 2012–
What do you get when a kid crosses Pinterest with Twitter? The answer is scrappd, the upcoming site set to become the first of its kind for kids. From Notting Hill to Neukölln, VentureVillage speaks to 23-year-old founder Riva-Melissa Tez about her inspired move to Berlin, her love of children, her views on Justin Bieber, and what’s in store for scrappd.
“I want children to document the world around them”
There’s a growing range of social-networking sites for kids such as ScuttlePad and WhatsWhat.me, and even virtual children’s worlds such as the hugely popular Moshi Monsters. But scrappd is looking to do something a little different by creating a visual bookmarking/scrapbook site akin to Pinterest.
“I didn’t want kids to escape reality – although it has its value. I want kids to use their imagination and upload of photo of it to the site. I want children to document the world around them – whether it’s from their own content, or from pictures that inspire them online,” says Tez. “I’m basically creating a site that I would’ve loved to have played on if I was eight.”
Children and social networking… “Don’t freak out”
Scrappd will also draw in social-networking elements, guarded by a moderation team and inbuilt safety features. “People freak out when they hear the words ‘social-network’ and ‘children’. But there are ways of doing it,” explains Tez. Firstly, the team is creating two versions of the site – one for under-13s and one for over.
“If the child is under 13, a parent’s email is required and they have a made-up username. There’s no personal information held about the child so the profile name is a famous artist’s name.” says Tez, “and just like Pinterest – there’s no direct communication with other users.” The only way for followers to “follow” another’s scrapbook progress is if the user knows the made-up username. Developers are also working to build-in an image filtering software to automatically stop inappropriate photos being posted.
From Notting Hill to Neukölln
From the tea-sipping environs of Notting Hill in London, to the rough, urban feel of Neukölln, Tez’s move to Berlin to start scrappd was met with few raised eyebrows. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world in London and they’re more hesitant to talk about their companies. That’s why I moved here. Everyone’s so open in Berlin and there’s such a great ecosystem of people helping one another and giving good advice,” Tez explains. “I’ve been to so many startup hotspots around the world like San Francisco and Tel Aviv, but Berlin really has it for me.”
Back in Notting Hill, Tez was a joint-owner of an award-winning surrealist toyshop and children's party venue. “I just love the world of children. I love making them happy, I can’t think of a better job to have then to work with children,” she exclaims. Her venture into the online tech world isn’t a far cry from her Toy Shop days. “I thought toys and tech had to be separate things. I thought I’d just have to be involved in tech and have a load of kids. So, when I got involved here, I thought – why not merge those two loves together?”
“What would you do if I threw sweets at your head?”
After moving to Berlin in December last year, Tez set up an office space in an ex-bank in Neukölln and got to work with establishing a team with an amusing selection process. “One of the questions I asked in the interview was ‘so we’re in the office and I start throwing sweets at your head. How would you respond?’ that’s how I chose my developers. The ones that said ‘I’d turn around and hit you back” were the ones I wanted to work with. I also asked them about their views on Justin Bieber. Most of them felt like they had to say ‘I like him’ but that obviously was the wrong answer. He’s the anti-christ. Don’t ever say you like him again.”
With two Bieber-hating sweet-throwing developers on board, the scrappd team is looking at launching their beta version within the next few months.
Stay tuned for all the details…