Alex Bush ’99 (pictured far left in a recent photo with Landon friends) wrote this blog post. Alex works in finance for the Royal Bank of Canada by day, but for the past year has been developing Finny, a mobile application that allows parents to limit their child’s unproductive smartphone usage by providing a fun educational alternative. Here, he describes the app and reveals how the Landon alumni network helped him in this venture and his career beforehand.
Landon was a great experience for me in so many ways, but the most important thing I got out of the school was all of my friendships. I graduated in ’99, and I still have the same close-knit group of friends. You think, OK, these are going to be my friends for life. But there’s so much more to it than that. What I’ve seen firsthand since I entered the working world is that the Landon alumni network has been incredibly helpful for me. I got my first job on Wall Street because of a friend from Landon who set me up with an interview. A number of potential investors in Finny, the educational mobile application that my partners and I recently launched, are Landon grads who have been great resources and advisors throughout the development process. It just goes to show you the power of the alumni network and what it can do for you — not just from a personal and social standpoint, but also from a professional one.
Another thing I took away from Landon was this emphasis on the importance of education and using time wisely. My partners and I came up with this idea about a year ago for an app that would help parents limit their children’s unproductive usage on a smartphone. The average kid in our demographic spends three hours a day on a smartphone engaged in what we call “unproductive usage” — that includes social media, mobile games, etc. If you’re a parent, it’s a difficult problem to solve. You can take the kid’s phone away or put a traditional parental control app on there, but all they really do is restrict, monitor and block access. In our mind, that’s not a sustainable solution and is totally unproductive. So what we did is take that concept of limiting phone usage a transform it into an educational platform that gives the parent some sort of fun way to engage a child in the mobile space.
We will launch in May with 20,000 questions on topics ranging from science to current events to health and nutrition, and parents can customize the learning experience based on what they deem is important. The parent can then get a real-time view into the questions the kid was asked that day.
The best part, especially from the child’s point of view, is that the app is all gamified. The kid gets points or coins based on answering questions correctly. And then they can go back and spend their coins for in-game perks, like being able to get a second chance when time runs out or they fail a quiz and get locked out of their phone for a minute. The gamification makes it fun for the kid and also teaches them time management without them realizing it. We’re taking that unproductive time and turning it into productive time, into a learning moment.