Every parent has experienced it.
A child says something so cute that Mom and Dad can’t wait to share it with others.
Mom, apples have apple juice in them.
Daddy, my truck is broken. It needs a Band-Aid.
Mommy, look, the moon is on.
It happened all the time to Prairie Village mother Lacey Ellis. She saw viral tweets and Facebook posts from friends as well.
“You’ve worried that you might forget, so you jotted it down in a notebook or on your phone,” she said.
But she kept wondering: “Shouldn’t there be a better way to capture these moments?”
So she created one. LittleHoots will launch April 15 as a mobile app that helps busy parents to capture the adorable things their kids say. Parents type the quotes into the app, and LittleHoots offers background designs that make it look more like artwork. The quotes can then be shared on social media and archived.
The startup has already caught the attention of several entrepreneur organizations in town, including Digital Sandbox KC, a program that offers business expertise and proof-of-concept resources to Kansas City startups. The Sandbox played a pivotal role in getting LittleHoots to market this year.
Cute Happens When You Least Expect It
Ellis had pondered her idea even before her 4-year-old son was born. But once he came along, she realized the quips don’t always come when she’s next to a computer or notebook. Adorable moments happen on the way to daycare, the grocery store or on a walk.
“I would say to my husband, ‘He said something cute this morning, but I just can’t remember what it was,’” Ellis said.
Ellis knew most parents carry their phone everywhere and realized an app could be a quick, easy solution.
“A lot of parents are so busy that they don’t have any time other than to just get it down,” Ellis said.
Once the quote is captured in the LittleHoots app, parents can quickly choose a design template—called memory tiles—for the background. This is where Ellis believes LittleHoots will shine.
“Design is my No. 1 priority for everything,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ background is in advertising. She spent several years as an art director and associate creative director at Bernstein-Rein in Kansas City. So she wanted the application’s design capabilities to stand out.
But archiving was also essential. As it stands, parents often have photos stored on social media, hard drives, phones and cameras. They have quotes scribbled in notebooks, Word files and more. LittleHoots provides a centralized, cloud-based service where those adorable moments can be easily organized and kept forever. Parents can share it all on social media or keep it to themselves.
That’s important, she said, because many parents don’t keep scrapbooks or photo albums like their parents did years ago.
“It’s really our goal to stay very focused on memory-keeping now with kid’s quotes and moving forward as a company that helps keep all of life’s precious memories,” Ellis said.
The app is free, but LittleHoots does have ways to start building some revenue from the start. The app includes a “storefront” that allows LittleHoots consumers to purchase things like mugs, keychains and wall hangings bearing their memorable quotes. It will also allow parents to hit a button and create a memory book of the data they collected.
‘They Are on the Front Wave’
Ellis came up with the initial idea for LittleHoots, but it really started to come together at Startup Weekend Kansas City in April 2013. The 54-hour competition throws together teams of strangers, who do their best to create a startup in a single weekend. LittleHoots ended up winning the weekend. “We were just so shocked,” Ellis said. “That really propelled us forward.”
The team of four—all considered original co-founders—stayed together. But they needed more help. They took part in the Archer Foundation’s Get Started program, which guides early-stage entrepreneurs.
Ellis’ team, now six people, is stacked with talent, said Jeff Glasco, entrepreneur-in-residence with the Archer Foundation.
“She’s got a team around her that complements her skill set, and that’s a big, big plus,” Glasco said.
Ellis said the Digital Sandbox KC has added yet another critical dimension to the startup. The Sandbox provided resources to help LittleHoots build its app, which will debut in Apple’s App Store. “It’s been huge for us because we were at a point where we were really stuck,” Ellis said. “How were we going to get to the next level in terms of creating our app?”
Area entrepreneurs expect the concept to take off and grow quickly.
“I believe that they are on the front wave of the next real trend in the market, and that is the memory-keeping experience,” Glasco said.