“We’re parents. We understand the pain personally.”
I was at the planetarium with my two kids. I bent down to help my 18-month-old put her shoe back on her foot. When I stood up again, my four-year-old was gone. I spent five frantic minutes searching every corner and alerting every planetarium employee before I finally found her playing with a friend. Those five minutes felt like five hours. Every parent who has momentarily lost a child to a clothing rack or Costco aisle will tell you the same thing.
Just ask Spencer Behrend, CEO of KiLife. During a 4th of July parade a few years ago, his son wandered off into a crowd of 30,000 people. Like me, Behrend was lucky enough to find his child after just a few minutes. But the anxiety of those minutes stuck with him. So he decided to create a solution that would enable parents to keep their children in sight at all times.
Behrend and his team plan to release their first product, the Kiband, in May. Kids wear the band on their wrists, and if he/she wanders too far, the band will begin to vibrate. If the kid ignores the vibration (like mine 100% would), the band will sound an alarm, as will the parent’s phone. The Kiband also alerts a parent any time the band is submerged in water, allowing parents to react as quickly as possible.
The KiLife team has been a part of the 500 Startups program since November, where they have been able to focus on their launch and raise capital. “500 Startups really helps you set up processes while you’re young that will allow you to grow and avoid growing pains,” Behrend says.
But don’t assume the KiLife growing process was completely without pain prior to their 500 Startups journey. For the first fifteen months of the company’s history, all five employees worked without pay. And their initial investment came from their own pockets. “Some people might think I’d be smart to quit a long time ago,” Behrend says. “But I think that’s part of what makes a company successful…just refusing to quit. It’s really easy to give up. It’s much harder not to.”
Eventually, KiLife got a call from a buyer at a big box retailer and became connected with investors in the Bay area, which led to the 500 Startups enrollment. They’ve spent four months working intensely, establishing their marketing processes, and preparing to launch the Kiband in 1800 stores. They plan to release an entire line of products over the next two years.
“We’re parents. We understand the pain personally,” Behrend says, adding that Kilife has to potential to change the way we parent.