Every Child Needs a Visit from the Foot Fairy!
Foot Fairy is a perfect example of what can happen when you combine Moms and technology!
Foot Fairy was created by a podiatrist mom, Sylvia Shapiro, and a therapist mom, Nicole Brooks, who wanted a stress free and healthy alternative to measuring kids' shoe sizes. This iPad application (app) allows you to scan your child's feet and get instant accurate measurements back which makes finding the right shoe size for your child quick, easy and fun!
We wanted to share their story with you here!
Mom Invented: Please tell us about Foot Fairy.
Sylvia: Foot Fairy is an iPad app that automatically scans your child's shoe size (up to 131/2). Simply place the child's foot against the iPad screen and it will display their shoe size in a matter of seconds. You can then directly buy shoes from Zappos in your child's correct shoe size.
Mom Invented: Why did you start this company?
Sylvia: Nicole, the co-founder and mother of four, dreaded taking her youngest daughter to buy shoes. She knew she would end up with the sparkly pink shoe instead of the sneaker that she intended to buy her. Therefore, we invented Foot Fairy to make shoe sizing and buying fun for kids and stress free for moms, dads and caregivers.
Mom Invented: Describe yourself and your family. What is your background and how does it relate to your company?
Sylvia: I am a podiatrist and mother of two girls. I wanted to help parents find a better way to measure kids feet.
Nicole, my partner, is a therapist and mother of four. She knows how hectic and stressful shopping for children can be and wanted an alternative. She is excited to introduce this app to other busy moms. "one less errand for over-frenzied mothers to run."
Mom Invented: What was your 'aha' moment when it came to starting your business?
Sylvia: We were out at a Greek restaurant with our hubbies and Nicole was dreading taking her youngest daughter to buy shoes. We thought there must be a better way than having the stranger hold out a steel metal contraption to your child's foot. A couple of glasses of wine later we came up with the Foot Fairy app.
Mom Invented: What is an app and what process did you follow to develop a prototype?
Sylvia: An App is short for application and basically means a software application/program. Today with the creation of the Smartphone, Android, Blackberry iPhone and iPad there are many apps (programs) created for these mobile devices.
Mom Invented: How did you find an app developer that you could trust?
Sylvia: My partner's husband is in the App business (he founded Tiger Text -an app that lets you text privately) so we were lucky that he already had app developers that he uses and trusted. We interviewed a couple of app development companies before negotiating and finalizing a deal with a company called PoetsRoad.
Mom Invented: When you are interviewing an app developer, what questions should you ask?
Sylvia: We focused on confirming the developer has a proven history of successfully creating apps, a flair for design, time to completion of the app and, of course, cost. When it comes to cost, you can also try to get creative by offering a revenue share in return for a lower up front cost, so essentially the developer takes less money up front but shares in the upside and can potentially make a lot more money over the long term. This also has the benefit of keeping the developer completely engaged and motivated, as updates and enhancements post-launch are often required. If you are paying in all cash, I recommend paying them in three installments. First payment after completion of the template and the second payment once app is completed and final after Apple accepts the app. So make sure to ask if they are open to this payment structure. As I mentioned, it is also critical to agree on a development schedule so that you know the app will be developed on a timely basis.
Mom Invented: What did you learn about that process that you can share?
Sylvia: As I had never created an app before, I knew very little about the process so the entire app development process was a wonderful learning experience. I also learned that being a mom and creating a business (including creating a company, opening bank accounts, etc.), especially a technology-based business when neither my partner nor I have a technology background, would take us double the time that we expected. That's OK because in the end it was a wonderful experience and now if we ever create another app we will be so much more efficient and better at multi-tasking.
Mom Invented: Were there any mistakes made along the way?
Sylvia: Yes. We underestimated the time it took to complete the app. It took twice as long as we had originally planned.
Mom Invented: How much does it cost to hire a developer to create the app?
Sylvia: It can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $20,000+ depending on who you hire and how complex the
app is that you are building.
Mom Invented: How did you learn how to post your app on the app store?
Sylvia: Posting an app to the app store requires you to have a formal relationship with Apple, which you can get by submitting an application. Once approved by Apple as an app developer, you simply submit the app for approval and, assuming approved, apple will release it in the app store (in return for a cut of the revenue you generate from the app). This process takes about 3 to 4 weeks. The app developer can help you with this process.
Mom Invented: Is there a how-to guide that you can point to or share?
Sylvia: Luckily there is so much information on the web on how to build and submit an app specifically for the device you are making it for. The dummies series of books has one called "iPhone development for Dummies".
Mom Invented: How did you determine your product’s marketability (is there a need, would people buy it)?
Sylvia: We asked our mommy friends and parents we met and yes they all wanted a better and easier way to buy shoes in the correct shoe size.
Mom Invented: Through what markets are you selling (retail, wholesale, internet, specialty sales)?
Sylvia: We sell the Foot Fairy exclusively through Apple's iTunes App Store.
Mom Invented: What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product?
Sylvia: The web, including mommy blogs, social media and parenting destinations, is incredibly powerful for helping to spread our message and organically increase awareness of downloads of our app."
Mom Invented: What was the biggest learning curve in terms of marketing your product?
Sylvia: Marketing takes time and we need to be patient. We are working moms so it takes extra time to promote our product. Once moms hear about us they are excited to download the app if they have an iPad.
Mom Invented: How did you finance your business?
Sylvia: We self-financed the development and launch of Foot Fairy.
Mom Invented: What is your company’s current financial picture and what are your projections?
Sylvia: Its a $1.99 a download so we hope to reach 500,000 moms a year worldwide.
Mom Invented: How long did it take to get your product from idea to market (conception to product launch)?
Sylvia: It took approximately 6 months.
Mom Invented: How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom? What falls by the wayside?
Sylvia: It is the biggest challenge and we just stay organized and allow ourselves extra time to reach our goals.
Mom Invented: What kind of support system do you have in place personally and professionally?
Sylvia: We both have wonderful husbands and our parents live nearby. Professionally we both have continued to work on the development and launch of Foot Fairy.
Mom Invented: Who has been your biggest source of inspiration? What keeps you going?
Sylvia: Our children who love being a part of the development of this app.
Mom Invented: What surprised you most about the process of starting your business?
Sylvia: How much time it takes to create and maintain a business.
Mom Invented: What advice would you offer other moms developing their products/ideas?
Sylvia: Go ahead and do it but recognize it will take you extra time to accomplish tasks because you are a mom. Tell yourself its okay.
Mom Invented: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you Sylvia and Nicole for sharing Foot Fairy and your story with us!
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