About This Episode:
What if you could create meaningful memories with loved ones around the globe?
My guest today Anieke Lamers has created Peekabond, a new app that makes it easier to not just connect remotely, but bond. She left a lucrative role as a VC to follow her passion and build her own company in a space she believed in.
She created a kid-friendly platform with science-based activities, ethical games, and a bank to store all the memories made. Many of us have gone years without being able to see loved ones like grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc.
This app is a way for people to create and store meaningful memories instead of just jamming YouTube Kids in front of your children and letting the algorithm raise them. (Who’s done that? You? Nope? Just me? Ok then!)
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1:41 – “A lot of people also forget what it was like to be a child and be playful. So a lot of people actually need help in that. And that’s also the reason why I founded Peekabond, my company. So I found out myself, the hard way, how hard it is to engage with young children in a meaningful way when you’re not physically in the same room. I mean, when you’re in the same room, at least you can pick up a toy together and play. But how do you do that when you’re thousands of miles apart, sometimes also separated by time zone and a screen in between, right? A lot of people sort of panic as soon as there’s a camera on their face. And it feels really strange to be playful when you’re at a distance. So, yeah, we want to help those families with the right inspiration and the right tools.”
3:52 – (Ross) “We’ve come out of a pandemic. We’ve had this Zoom era, and I think kids from all ages have been hit the most hard by that. And when I think of kids, I don’t just think of young kids. I think of middle schoolers, high schoolers, their entire world at a very important age became digital. And that’s awful. The idea of going through four years of high school remotely is terrifying. It’s just sad. It’s not terrifying, it’s just sad. The idea of those formative social years just not happening. And you feel that with the generation of kids who are coming up in this. So on the one hand, I look at technology like yours and I think, okay, this is a really positive thing. On the other hand, I think how much are we leaning into this digital world in general? Is this just here to stay forever, are we always going to be communicating like you and I are now remotely from thousands of miles away?”
4:55 – “I had the idea in my mind for a little while. So my niece who I actually started this company for, in Australia, is now a little over three years old. So it was before the pandemic hit that she was born and that I sort of had this super urge to help families because this was my own situation. And then the pandemic hit, which sort of accelerated that pressure because I thought this is not just relevant now in the pandemic, but also outside of it, because people are disconnected more and more. And sometimes it goes, they are expat families. But even when you’re sometimes in the same city, it can be hard to be in frequent touch with your loved ones and I think ultimately what will be remembered is your presence in the lives of the loved ones that you have.”
6:04 – “A lot of parents, they don’t want screens for their kids and they’re already like, yeah, they’re already on YouTube and Disney or whatever they’re watching, so I don’t want them with any screens period. And I get that. I think it’s also important for children to play outside, to work with their hands creatively, to socialize in person, of course. But does that mean that if you’re a grandparent who has grandchildren abroad, that you’re just not in touch with them, that you just accept that life is just the way it is? I just couldn’t deal with that. So I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to change the status quo.”
6:49 – “Also, because I know how important it is to sometimes have people in your life who really make a difference in your life. For me as a child, that was the case. I had a few people who are really influential. And I think if you don’t have that, it’s also easy to take the wrong path, to sort of stay in the analog of the name of this podcast.”
7:21 – “I think it’s very important to have the right people influencing your children and not just a random influencer, but actually someone who really deeply cares about them and who will always be there for them. That constant in this dynamic world is really important.”
7:51 – (Ross) “I think as hard as it is for kids, it’s just as hard for parents because it’s no secret we’re going through maybe another recession. Economy is tough, Times are tough. A lot of parents and adults are just struggling, period, trying to survive, whether they’re working for somebody else and they’re worried about getting fired. We’re talking about tens of thousands of layoffs. So I think a lot of parents have this ideal of what they would like to do for their kids, which would be zero screen time whatsoever. But they can’t live up to that ideal because they are themselves so busy and so stressed. I would like if my daughter had less screen time for sure, but I’m trying to build a business and it’s been an incredibly challenging time. And so it’s tough. And certainly during the pandemic – it’s definitely better now – it was very hard to not rely on something like an iPad or Zoom to help get through those moments. Otherwise, I just couldn’t do what I needed to do. Not that I’m proud of it, but I think a lot of people are in that same boat. So whether we want it or not, we kind of need it, I think.”
11:49 – “Of the things that I indeed found out is that actually like scheduling playdates with my sister’s daughter really helps. And even if my sister is not in the room, so actually she gets some time as well back in her day whilst I’m sort of playing with her and also sending those videos through our app because our app is currently focused on asynchronous video messaging. Then she can watch these videos when she’s in the right mood for it and she knows that those videos, I really created specially for her. And I think that sort of gives her, I think unconsciously, maybe, because she’s maybe too young to realize it now, but a lot of confidence and just feeling that someone’s here and someone loves you and someone put their attention and their positive energy in something and they went sort of out of their way to send you something.”
13:57 – “We have a bigger vision of making interactive games and stuff like that. But for now it’s just a super simple prompt and it can be anything ranging for children from zero up to six years old and for the younger ones, we for example, prompt, it can even be for like a five month old baby to play peekaboo and to just show your face because they then recognize your face, they recognize your voice, and they learn about object permanence. And when they grow older, you can play with a sock puppet or play with a random item in your room. Share a story about your family. I think ultimately it seems insignificant because some people are like, ‘Okay, but this is a really small thing. How does it make a difference?’ I think it might be on the short term, but I think on the long term, those moments add up to memories and into bonds. And if people don’t yet do those smaller things, then on the longer term they will not have those bonds with their little loved ones, I think. And it’s just such a huge loss. So yeah, that’s how I see it. And yeah, the prompts, we try to innovate them. So we put new riddles in there this week, for example, and it can be like just a funny riddle for a grandparent to send to their grandchild. And then the grandchild has to solve it, or just putting a smile on their face. It can be as simple as that. It doesn’t have to be like a super complex game.”
19:25 – (Anieke:) “Being a VC is just a way more comfortable position, right? You have the money and people basically just come back for it. And of course deals can be stressful, but at least you get a paycheck and you know that if the fund is raised right that for the next ten years, basically you have a job. So it’s quite, I would say, comfortable. And that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to get the max out of all my skills and potential. And I have to tell you, it’s way harder than I thought it would be to be a founder. But it’s also way more rewarding. Really feels like I’m doing something purposeful in the world. And when I – this sounds a bit deep, but if I would die, then at least I have tried, right?”
(Ross:) “That’s the kind of stuff that I live for right there. That’s what the show is about.”
(Anieke:) And I think if I wouldn’t have done it, it would have always nagged and it would have always haunted me. But what if, you know? So I would encourage anyone listening to this podcast if that’s you – yeah, just do it.”
23:55 – “I live now in Portugal and I sometimes look at the surfers here. I’m not a surfer myself yet, but I aspire to be. But it’s all about catching the right wave and the momentum and also being in the water maybe by yourself and not with 20 other surfers who are sort of blocking your nice wave to catch, you know? So I was looking at the water the other day and I was really thinking about that. It’s like, it’s really about catching the right wave. And sometimes that’s about luck and sometimes it’s also about a bit of experience, like really learning to read the waves and catching them in the right time. And yeah, I think the real entrepreneurs, they just see stuff before others see it happen. And they know that they’re in the water and they’re in the right position. So when the wave comes, they sort of hit it and then they go, right?”
25:21 – (Ross) “I love the wave metaphor because I also wonder whether one can create a wave or simply ride a wave, that’s a question I’ve had in my life…I think that the true entrepreneur and the spirit of just plain entrepreneurship is the one who reads the world, identifies trends and reflects back to the world what it wants. If you want more casinos, I’ll give you a casino. You want to smoke cigarettes, I’ll give you cigarettes because I’m just giving you what you want. I’m a real entrepreneur. Of course, I’m not personally interested in that. I’m interested in this thing called social entrepreneurship, whatever that is, where it’s like, I don’t want to do something just because it’s a wave that exists. I want to be somehow creating a wave that others may ride. And maybe that’s a fool’s errand and maybe that’s a stupid thing to do. But of course, to me, that’s sort of what I believe in and look at my exponential growth so clearly it’s worked out for me so far!”
28:38 – “It really depends on the investors as well, right? There’s a spectrum of them out there and you have your investors who are indeed like out for maximum profit and maximum IRR or they want more than a 30 X on their investment. And they’re really in it for that. And you have the ones that are also a bit more impact driven and people-oriented people, really. So yeah, it’s really a matter of doing the right due diligence. Like with anything in your life, right? Also, when you’re entering a relationship or when you’re making new friends, yeah you need to get to know each other, and you need to get the right people on board. But yeah, I think no founder can be successful on their own, right? They need a solid team around them.”
32:53 – “I have defined for me what success looks like, and that is that if I can help families around the world to create meaningful relationships with their loved ones, no matter where they are, no matter how old they are, and no matter if they’re even maybe dead or alive in the future. Because I think technology can also enable to really capture memories of those who we leave behind. Then I think that, then I can sort of tap myself on the shoulder and say, ‘Okay, that’s good.’”
36:32 – “What for me was one of the key challenges is just really letting go of that expert mindset and really focusing on growing and learning. Because I think the fastest learner is ultimately the one that will be successful and that will survive also in this market because there’s just so many factors at play. Like things that are changing, new developments that are constantly passing by. And I think that sort of mindset shift was definitely a game changer for me.”
38:22 – “I can totally make my own mission and make my own future and my own job every day I go to work, and before I felt like there’s this sort of mold of a puppet that needs to fit in and you need to fit into it otherwise you’re just not successful as a VC and I just felt like I needed room to grow and yeah, just be my own person, I guess. So as a founder, you can totally grow in whatever direction you want to grow because you can decide who you want to be, and also if you suck at something – because you’ll find out that you’ll suck at stuff – you just hire someone to make sure that they cover for you on the areas where you’re not good at.”
47:32 – “What I would like to send out as a message is that you matter and you matter more than you know. And those small moments that you can sort of give to other people in their lives also matter because I think ultimately life is just a sum of really good moments. And some, some are bad, obviously, but a good life is a sum of good moments. And if we are just a bit more conscious about that in our daily lives, then I think that’s really going to make a big difference. And especially making that bridge to remote relationships. I think just because you are far away from someone doesn’t mean you cannot be present in their lives and give them those beautiful moments of joy.”
48:25 – “I encourage everyone to maybe take a moment in your day today to send someone you love a message, even if they’re far away. And if that person happens to be a child, then use the Peekabond app for that. We facilitate those connections through asynchronous video messaging and science-based content suggestions. And the app is free. It’s been downloaded in 70 countries. And we have a lot of people that we’re making very happy with that. So love for you to join our journey in that.”