This is a guest post from Irem Yoruk. Born and raised in Turkey, Irem graduated from Wellesley College with a major in economics. Her interest in entrepreneurship began while working at the World Bank with the Private Sector Development Group. Convinced by the private sector interventions’ high-impact in economic development, she moved to Uruguay on a Princeton in Latin America fellowhip. She currently works at Endeavor Uruguay and supports the growth of Uruguayan entrepreneurs.
The Uruguyan startup KidBox is a safe and fun Internet product for kids. Besides a safe Internet surfing environment for kids, Kidbox also offers videos, activities and games to young children. Kidbox has been expanding to new markets and growing steadily. We are interviewing the co-founder and the co-CEO Martin Larre today.
Irem Yoruk: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the startup community in Uruguay.
Martin Larre: I am 35 and through these years, I worked for several organizations in Latin America and the US such as Disney, Longman Pearson,Turner, and Discovery. I am the founder and the former Marketing Director of WoOw, the Groupon of Uruguay. I also find time to organize TEDxMontevideo and the Startup Weekend Montevideo.
The Uruguayan startup community is young, it started only a few years ago and it is growing every year. I try my best to foster this growth. For example I brought the Startup Weekend to Uruguay in order to promote entrepreneurship, help potential entrepreneurs to take risk and start their companies.
IY: Where did the idea for Kidbox came from?
ML: The idea came up as I observed the problems parents faced when their preschool children ask to browse the web. The fear of exposing their kids to inappropriate content make parents lose a lot of time peeking to the screen above the children’s shoulder every 5 minutes. We decided we can provide a better experience for these parents and for the children.
ML: I moved to Uruguay 7 years ago and my experience here has been great. The city is more quiet that Buenos Aires and it really goes well with my personality. Being an entrepreneur in Uruguay is really difficult though. The startup ecosystem is still forming and the access to angel investors is limited (definitely not as easy as in other bigger countries). Today, more institutions are starting to support entrepreneurs, so I think it is a good time to start your company in Uruguay.
IY: Kidbox is one of the two Uruguayan startups selected to participate in Start-Up Chile’s current acceleration cycle. Tell us about your experience with Startup Chile. Is it helping you in ways you wouldn’t have come up with on your own?
ML: The experience was great. Meeting and talking to entrepreneurs from all over the world is the best way to validate your product. The money they give to you helps but I think the experience is the most valuable asset you get from it.
IY: As far as we know Kidbox is free, are you planning on adding new features or products to make money in the future?
ML: KidBox launched a free version in March 2012. We will launch our premium features in December 2012. We will charge for premium features like Videomail and some other familiy private network features.
IY: In which countries is Kidbox available?
ML: KidBox is available in all Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. We launched in Brazil in August 2012 and almost 15% of our total users are from there.
IY: What is in the future for Kidbox?
ML: Right now we are closing our first investment round and we are taking KidBox to mobile platforms like Android, iOS, Win8 and Smart TV (Samsung and LG). Then we will launch KidBox in the US for the Hispanic population, followed by the English speaking population. Our market will be the whole world.