Thumbs Up For Performance | Skillshare Projects

Ian Sephton

PTW daily - #founder & #ceo - @hangar202 @branst



Thumbs Up For Performance

Problem: Parents managing their kids in a reactive way.  "No, don't touch that, why did you do that"?

Solution: A tool / Platform that allows you to create goals collaboratively (proactive parenting vs. reactive) manage those in real time, and provide incentives that parents feel are appropriate and incentivize the right behaviors.

  • We have created an interactive system with tools for Parents and Children to create, track, and reach goals together!
  • Set goals collaboratively with your children and manage those goals using your smart phone and/or tablet device!
  • As goals are achieved you will have the ability to choose from a list of FREE rewards from our sponsors.  It will be printed on demand or shipped overnight!
  • Our secret sauce isn't the "app" that’s the easy part.  We have a sophisticated back end with analytics, sponsorship platform, and established relationships with brands that want to get their message to families. 

The Story

In todays world parents are divorcing at high rates.  Co-parenting is the new buzzword but with a split household that is very difficult to maintain.  We have created a tool that allows for both parents to actively manage and incentivize the behaviors and values they feel are most important. 

As a divorced father of two I know first hand how hard it is to manage the schoolwork, chores, and other value driven lessons remotely.  While in the USMC and deployed overseas it was even harder to do those things with just a phone call.  I knew there must be a better way!

After submitting a paper describing the business model while working on my MBA at USC titled "Thumbs Up For Performance".  I quickly saw I wasn't alone...  Divorced parents, parents in the military, parents who travel for work, and even parents who both work long hours could benefit from this platform.


Our target niche is divorced parents.  That is a very identifiable market segment, which should allow us to be very targeted in our approach.  We feel the market opportunity is larger, but that those folks would be in the highest need category.


We plan to launch with a freemium version.  It will have basic features, which will allow people to play with the app with little to no risk.  The premium version will be a monthly fee and will include the analytics and a more robust rewards program.


We will launch on Android and iOS applications as well as a web based tool.  Our goal will be to make sure that we focus on mobile.  This tool needs to be used in real time and require little to no brain damage.  It has to be stupid simple and so easy that even a young child can use it.


We will release premium versions to influential bloggers, reporters, vendor partners, and any other sneezers we can find.  This needs to be a word of mouth process vs. paid by click ad blitz.  Parents, especially busy ones don't have time to try and learn an unknown system with high risk.  So it will be important for parent advocates and tastemakers to spread the word about the value of our platform.


We will gain permission over time.  The goal will be to push our story out and be front of mind.  Once people invest time into the freemium model, we won't bombard them with crap.  In fact we will do quite the opposite and try and provide as much value in the free version as we can.  Once we have credibility and trust our goal will be to get conversions to the paid module so that parents who want to understand the analytics behind what behaviors are getting better or worse, what days of the weeks the child struggles meeting the goals, and other insightful stuff.  Plus the biggest difference in the paid vs. free will be the rewards "treasure chest" which will have more items, more free items for achieving the goals, and other fun stuff for the kids.  Our thinking is the kids will see the other rewards and pull the parents into the paid version vs. us having to hard sell.


Our plan is to wow people with the tool and the service.  Our rewards will be drop shipped and sent to the child as quickly as possible.  We don't want the reward for doing the right thing to take more than a day or else it loses value.  We will also provide very cool packaging to enhance the experience for the child receiving the reward to re-enforce the reason why they are getting such an awesome reward.

Our community and best-demonstrated practices will be a huge focus and differentiator.  Our plan is to really promote peer-to-peer resources and build a community of parents helping parents.  They say it takes a village, and our village will be stronger as the network grows.

Public Relations

We will do some story telling through traditional PR, but our goal will be to find the blogging community of parents.  We want to become a tool for parents and make them the story.  That is why we will promote heavily all the peer-to-peer resources and communicate success stories of our early adopters. 


We will share white papers on the value of proactive behaviors vs. reactive, parental studies, and success stories.  Our hope is to find academic studies that support what we believe which is that our tool will help you but it will not parent or tell you how to raise your child.  We will push that hard, as we want to make sure that people understand that it’s just a tool and not a new way of parenting.  For some homes this system is in place and used in schools today.  Tracking and rewarding good behavior is not a new concept.


We know that building trust in a parental community is hard.  We know that and so it’s going to be a long road.  Our goal will be to show up in the right blogs, magazines, and online communities.  Sell the story of our platform making things easier for parents and pushing hard to get parents to be our biggest advocates.


We will be the app of choice to parents and kids.  As you build your goals you will be reminded when they are do, completed, or not etc.  This will require daily and weekly management but our system will make it so easy it won't feel like work.  In fact we hope to make it fun.  Did your child make his bed?  The pop up alert says its completed, so time to make a quick quality check.  Yep, the bed is made, its time to reward your child with a thumbs up and points towards that trip to his or her favorite restaurant!


This platform will have a custom feel to fit your style of parenting.  You don't want a certain reward to be shown to your child, no problem.  You don't want to offer any reward for doing basic chores but you still want to track them, no problem.  We are not here to teach people to be better parents.  We are here to provide a tool that re-enforces their belief system and offers you the analytics, trends, and other data to help you adjust as YOU see fit.  The rewards system is just a small piece of the puzzle.  The real value is the analytics and tracking so that you can stay on top of things in a very busy world.

People like Us

Divorced parents like us, use a tool like this.  Busy parents like us, need a tool like this. 



Story -

  • Divorced parents who struggle with co-parenting due to a split household now have a tool that allows them to be active and present every single day.
  • We provide a tool to help parents raise and manage their children in a proactive vs. reactive nature
  • We provide incentives directed by the parents to reward children for the right behaviors while providing analytics on what children are doing well on and where there is opportunity to improve

Experience -

  • We don't teach parenting, we provide tools to parents to help them be the best parents they can be.
  • Every touch point in the customer experience will re-enforce the values and beliefs that the parents want to see their children embrace.

The Weird -

  • Co-parenting is hard, it can be awkward, and consistency for the child can be stressful.
  • We are going to build a tool that is built for divorced parents to make them not feel like failures and outcasts.  We want to make them feel like they are apart of the child’s life even at times when they can't be there physically.
  • Our goal is audacious, but if we can help them co-parent and be active throughout we have done our job.

Wow -

  • We will wow with deep analytics and reports for the parents.
  • A reward system that makes it magical all the way through (loading rewards in a treasure chest, shipping quickly, amazing packaging, and constant re-enforcement on WHY they child is getting the reward.
  • An amazing community of parents trying to do the best they can and sharing the stories.

Worldview -

  • While we believe our tool will help all parents, our goal is to focus on divorced parents first.  That is where the largest need is and we believe that the community is strong and word of mouth will travel fast.
  • No longer will divorced parents be viewed as second-class citizens!  They will be as active and maybe even more active with our tool helping them.

Personas -

  • Divorced fathers
  • 20-40 years of age
  • Divorced mothers
  • 20-40 years of age
  • Children 3-13 yrs. of age

Design -

  • The app will be EXTREMELY user friendly and will have personalization tools that will set the system up based on the parents and child’s needs
  • The delivery of rewards will be set up to really WOW the child and re-enforce to them the reason for getting the reward
  • Our reports will be simple to pull up, track, and share

Customer Service -

  • We will actively engage and communicate with our parents
  • We will respond quickly to issues and resolve them with a real sense of urgency
  • Our wow packaging will be carefully thought out and delivered timely
  • We will moderate our community with parent leads who will have more credibility.  We will meet and discuss ways to improve our system with parental leads and children so we are always improving our platform.

Commodities -

  • Our free model will have amazing value day one and we will also focus on improving that version as well
  • Our paid module will not be price sensitive.  We believe in the value we are going to provide and will charge accordingly. 

Fear -

  • We will not purposely create fear.  However, there is the potential for it to manifest itself as word of mouth spreads and we have parents fearing they are being left out of a community and a tool that is providing real value to the child raising experience.

Licensing -

  • At this time we see no need to license but we do have plans to partner with brands on the rewards program.  We will stick to established family brands and allow our parents to select which items are viewed by children.

Risk -

  • Similar to Fear our thought is that parents will hear about this system from other parents and be intrigued enough to try the free version.
  • Secondly when children at school or daycare talk about the system we hope there could be additional upward pressure from children advocating for the system in their homes.


  • We don't see value day one in an MLM sales structure. 
  • We do think that the platform could be something applied to groups and team sports.  It’s not a year one problem so more thought is needed.

Network Effect -

  • This is key.  We think the tool on its own is powerful but to get the fully functional death star (star wars reference) we need to build a community of sneezers telling their stories, best demonstrated practices, and helping each other and us use / improve the tool.


Awareness -

  • Getting in front of all parents day one is impossible.  So we have chosen to focus on divorced parents first.
  • Blogs speaking to divorced parents will be our first beachhead into the community.
  • Online communities, social media, and other free media platforms will be our second awareness campaign.
  • Parental advocates who like our system and share our system will be the folks we reach out to directly and offer support and build a customer board to provide feedback on how to improve as well.

Authority -

  • We will leverage the parents themselves to be the authority.  We will never try to advocate or teach parents how to be parents.  We will focus on teaching them how to use our system through other parents and offer configuration to ensure they can utilize their child raising methods.

Closing the sale -

  • The freemium version is a risk free trial.  Hopefully after the use it and see the power they will investigate the paid version.  They are more likely to opt into a paid version if the free version exceeds their expectations.

Copywriting -

  • As you can probably tell from reading my project I'm not a great writer.  I sometimes type so fast I miss words.  We will engage the services of a marketing copywriter to help us with our materials before we launch.

Free -

  • Our freemium version will always add value and always be free.

Frequency -

  • We want to be wherever there are divorced parents.  It will be key for us to become apart of the community and invite them to use our platform to build their community.
  • We won't spam, shout, or go overboard on paid advertising.  We will try to be relevant first and than frequent.

Funnel -

  • Our funnel is narrow (divorced parents)
  • Our drop out will be relevant in the first 30 days (habits) so we need to make sure they system is easy to use, notifies you softly when interaction is needed, and sticky
  • The next dropout will be from free to the paid version.  IF we offer too much value to the free version we may not get enough people to opt in for the paid.  If we don't offer enough value in the free version we may not get people to build it into their routine (sticky).
  • This will be a fine line, but our focus will be on the analytics and improved rewards offering for the added value.  This will ensure that a home that truly can't afford the paid can still get the maximum value for their household.

Hype -

  • Early on we want ZERO hype.  We will launch the MVP and make tweaks to ensure our back end scales properly, our schema design makes sense, and most importantly we are providing major value to parents and children. 
  • Once we feel like our system can handle the scaling and is sticky we will push a little harder on the awareness campaign mentioned above.

Lifetime Value Analysis

  • When we set up the system we will measure as much as we can about usage
  • Total log ins, activities, rewards selected, customization types, and how often they share the app.  We will make the app have a share now button every time someone logs in so if they are talking with a parent it can be as easy as entering the parents email and BAM.  We will offer free paid version for each share to enhance the opportunity for our word of mouth campaign to happen.
  • Once we know the value of a customer in our CRM data we can also build our marketing campaigns more intelligently to support faster growth.

A movement -

  • We have built a tool, but what’s more important than the tool is building the community.  That will need to happen very carefully but once the community builds to a certain point it should have enough momentum to get us the network effect.
  • The movement will be parents teaching parents and parents sharing with parents.  We will be to tool and conduit for the community building but we will never outshine our parents. 

Affiliates / Bounty -

  • There may be an opportunity with PTA groups, youth sports, etc. to offer a discount for them to opt in.  More research is needed but the opportunity is acknowledged.


  • With any investment of time and money ROI needs to be a consideration.  We have no delusions of making money on this in the beginning.  Our only hope is that if we can get traction fast we may be able to raise capital in order to get us to the level needed to provide and support our brand promise.


  • N/a

Trust -

  • This is critical on every level.  Our service, our platform, and our messaging must support parents and build their trust as a tool.  We cannot sacrifice that for a short-term gain.  Parents don't trust brands easily when it comes to their children. 
  • Transparency is the name of the game...


Direct Marketing -

  • A/B testing
  • Referral program
  • Testing all marketing before it goes out to the entire community will be key

Cold calling -

  • No cold calling will happen.  We will warm call and email bloggers and community leaders to engage them in communication about what we are trying to do.  Offer them arenas for feedback and giving our system a try.

Subscriptions -

  • Whether they select the freemium version or the paid version they will be opting in to our service.  It will be up to us to handle that responsibility and build trust.

Email marketing -

  • As our email list grows (opt in kind) we will market to them valuable information such as case studies, best-demonstrated practices, and parent moderated content.  We will not be hard selling in email but we will offer referral bonuses to active members to share our story.

Open rate -

  • Based on the success we will adjust the frequency, however our goal is to not over do the frequency so we will be very cautious about what we send, what we title the send, and who opens it.

Increasing returns vs. Diminishing -

  • Our hope is by adding value (free version) and offering a paid version with even more value that will be a strong platform for word of mouth sharing to take place
  • We will do everything we can to make sharing our story easy whether by email, forwarding a case study or article, or trying the free version.

Mass market -

  • We won't market to every parent.  We will market to divorced parents first and let them spread the story to other parents.  We won't reject traditional families; we just won't focus on them from a marketing perspective.  The system will work for any parent(s) living / household situation.

Retail -

  • There is no need for a retail strategy

Retention -

  • The first 30 days of using our system is key.  We must study and improve the system based on how the early adopters use / drop the system.  Research and measurement will be the name of the game.  Once the parent and child are hooked on our system they will naturally share the story with little to no prompting from us.
  • The free version must always offer enough value to work extremely well without opting into the paid version


  • We hope to be relevant and by using a basic SEO strategy find our way up the rankings of the search engine results.  We will never focus on gaming the system just on delivering value with our product.

Schedule -

  • Our marketing calendar will have activities and tactics built out to be consistent, relevant, and as frequent as we can be without being annoying.


Referrals -

  • This is the name of the game.  We will focus a lot of our energy on the product adding value and offering sneezers conduits to share our story (social, email, and other online communication)

Viral marketing -

  • The app, the share features through social media, and our parental advocates (sneezers) will help us break out and spread to the divorced parents hives with a high conversion rate.

Sneezers -

  • Referenced above but the persona I think who will sneeze often and loud will be single mothers.  We will need to test that but statistics show that women are more active on social media so there is some evidence pointing me in that direction.

Hive -

  • Divorced parents hangouts and communities

Velocity -

  • If the app is valuable and sticky the velocity could become extreme.  We must be prepared to scale or we will lose credibility with our core group.

Vector -

  • Divorced men and women 20-40 will be the hive most likely to give this platform a try
  • Our marketing communication will be directed at these folks first.

Amplifier -

  • Bloggers in the divorced parental communities will be target #1

Persistence -

  • Our tools, alerts, and communications will hopefully drive the parents to use the tool and have it a part of their routines.

Word of Mouth -

  • Referenced throughout and our biggest hope for building trust and a network effect.

Product adoption lifecycle -

  • The freemium to early adopters (divorced parents the target)
  • Upgrade to the paid version (divorced parents still the target)
  • Critical mass attained and velocity building in that community should push the platform to other parents with varying difficulties and needs.



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