sad+kids

A few months ago I found myself in a children’s museum in Manhattan surrounded my kids, parents, and press. It was the launch party for the app Keepy — an app that serves as a digital repository for kids’ artwork. Three-year-olds flailed about willy-nilly, going to various art-making stations. Parents hovered over them with loving glances whilst photographing their offsprings’ creations via their smartphone. Meanwhile, the poor museum workers were ferrying the kids from room to room. As a childless 20-something male, I was pretty out of my element.

Though the app was originally released only on iOS, today marks the launch of its Android version.

Keepy’s founder and CEO Offir Gutelzon is always reticent to pin his app against any other app — hell, when we last met, he exclaimed slight disgust for even calling it an app. (“It’s so much more,” he said.) At a demo a few weeks back Gutelzon was questioned about who he views as competition. His response: “The trashcan,” referring to where kids’ art generally ends up.

While that didn’t necessarily sit well with the panel, this is how he has marketed his product. In some ways it’s like Instagram, because it allows users to store images of their child’s artwork in a timeline-like fashion. In other ways it’s like Facebook, because it provides a way for people to keep track of their child’s doings (primarily via their art creations), while maintaining a very private profile that only family and friends can view. It’s also kind of like Dropbox, because it digitally stores all this material for family to (theoretically) look back on decades later.

Gutelzon is always quick to remind me that none of the comparisons truly do Keepy justice. But seriously, we’re just talking about kids’ art here.

Since its September launch the app has seen moderate success. Gutelzon says it has 150,000 users in 90 countries. He also told me that Facebook targeted ads are its primary way of acquiring new users.

Now that it’s on Android, he’s hoping it will grab a new segment of parent smartphone users. At the same time, this may take it out of the running for being featured on Apple’s App Store, which is something that would probably be perfect for such a niche, aesthetically-focused app. Gutelzon is now working feverishly to accrue as many users as possible.

In addition to the Android launch, Keepy is also announcing a partnership with Zazzle that will let the apps’ users transform their kids’ pieces into tangible mementos. This means that if users see an image they specifically like, they can click a button in the app, and Zazzle will print that image on the object of their choice, be it a shirt or a mug. The perfect holiday gift for someone who thinks their infant is the next Monet (which is probably most parents).

It’ll be interesting to see how many parents take the bait. I asked Gutelzon how user retention is going, because I can imagine parents just loving the idea but not necessarily keeping with it after a few days. He said that it was surprisingly high, and that once parents invite their families to partake, more regular usage generally follows.

With $1.1 million in the bank from its last round in October, along with an undisclosed seed round before that, it has a bit of time to solicit parents to download it. Is it enough time for me to decide to have children? Probably not.