Whitby mom gets help from Dragons to market ‘Hire and Fire Your Kids’ parenting app

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Published March 21, 2023 at 11:35 am

A ‘gamified’ parenting app featured on Dragon’s Den was first developed on pen and paper by a Whitby mom as a fun and easy way to manage boundaries and household expectations with her children.

Hire and Fire Your Kids is a Whitby-based technology start-up that helps parents raise their kids and prepare them for the ‘real world.’ Jody Swain, who does not have a technology background, developed the app to keep parents and kids accountable regarding hygiene, manners, and family values. The game is played in the home between parents and kids, where parents can hire their kids for various jobs around the house and fire them – with three warnings, just like in the workforce – if they are not meeting household expectations.

“It reduces friction and changes behaviours through play, Swain told the Dragons in her pitch in Season 14. “I see it as a new way of parenting.”

The app was borne from the friction that naturally occurs in most blended families. With two step-kids (12 & 9) that came into her life a decade ago, Swain was finding it difficult setting expectations for the three children in the family. As time went on she began to feel “resentment” towards the kids and “disappointment” to herself as a parent.

“I knew I needed to step it up if I wanted to prepare my kids for the real world,” she said. “I thought, ‘there must be a better way’ for me to communicate expectations without causing friction and Hire and Fire your Kids was born.”

The Hire and Fire method combines motivation, competition, teamwork, recognition, reward, consequences and teaching kids the value of a dollar. “We were amazed by the results – we couldn’t believe how it helped and made an immediate impact on our household. The kids were engaged, having fun, self-aware and actively participating as household members.”

Swain found the game made communicating with the kids easier and with less friction. The more her children participated, the more empowered and motivated they became to do things around the home, she said.

But without a technology background, Swain needed to educate herself through reading books and attending seminars and also turned to the Region of Durham’s technology partners at the Spark Centre and 1855 Whitby, a technology accelerator that tries to position high potential tech companies for the global stage.

“The team at 1855 was hugely supportive in helping me secure funding to further grow my business … and have offered exactly the type of support and guidance I need to propel my business forward,” Swain said. “I’m able to host meetings and although I’m a sole proprietor, working out of 1855 along other tech founders has made me feel like I’m a part of a team.”

She also received support from the Business Advisory Centre Durham and the Whitby Chamber of Commerce.

Swain was able to secure some financing from her pitch on Dragon’s Den in the fall of 2020, attracting offers from three of the Dragons before accepting a pledge from Lane Merrifield for a $100,000 investment in exchange for 25 per cent of the company.

She estimated she had spent about $150,000 developing the app to that point.

Swain continues to look for new opportunities to fund and grow the app, which is currently available on Google Play and on the Amazon and Apple app stores, through speaking opportunities to showcase her business.

 

To see her pitch on Dragon’s Den, see Hire and Fire Your Kids

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