Asking parenting questions in the digital age is as easy as putting your thumbs to work on your mobile phone. The answers, however, are a completely different story. With apps, websites, friends, and more, finding the right information for you can be difficult.
We here at Dads Who Diaper are encouraging more dads to get involved (moms are welcome too) to use our forums to pose questions to each other for “community support.” We don’t pretend to offer medical advice but sharing experiences of all types is a vital component of being a parent, a dialogue to help you with various parenting tips.
Enter Kinsights.com, an online startup, that’s hoping to take parenting forums to a new level. Direct response from someone who can offer a knowledgeable answer to your question. The free website is a community based interactive tool for parents to ask questions, offer answers, and learn from the experience of others. Kinsights says they’ll match your question with the member who is most likely able to answer it. Therefore, establishing a direct link between question and answer, and helping parents find relevant information faster.
Here’s a look at the online interview we conducted with founder of Kinsights, Jackson Wilkinson.
Jackson Wilkinson is the father of a five month old boy, who “seems like a pretty swell fella so far. Then again, we think he’s starting to teethe, so ask me again in a couple weeks.”
What was the inspiration behind Kinsights?
My wife Carol is a pediatrician and researcher, and she noticed two big problems: parents didn’t really keep good track of their kids health, and that they would ask her about all kinds of parenting things they don’t teach you about in med school. When we were asking around about great online resources to point her patients toward, we found that friends were really unhappy with the big sites out there - they’re like walking into Times Square and yelling a question out: you may get a ton of responses, but not necessarily the kind you want. So I had the idea that we might be able to solve both problems: as we help you keep track of your kid’s medical records, we could use what we know to point your questions to parents who are a lot like you, and who have been in your shoes before. After that, it was just a matter of getting it up and running before we actually had kids, so we could use it ourselves!
What’s the meaning behind the name?
Believe it or not, names are one of the hardest things about launching a startup. It’s really tough to come up with one good enough (and available enough!) to get comfortable with, so it’s not distracting you endlessly. We’re always fans of a good portmanteau, and the blend of “kin” (like family) and “insights” was really what we’re going for.
How are you developing your parenting community?
Our focus isn’t on having the most users, but instead on being able to connect you to the right people at the right time, so you can get five or six answers that really give you clarity, rather than dozens that just make things more confusing. That means a few things: when you ask a question, we look through the community for parents likely to have gone through a similar situation, so the community changes and adapts to what you need over time. We also encourage parents to vote up answers they agree with, so the best answers float to the top, rather than having a bunch of “me too” entries to cloud the waters. In the end, for us, it’s about quality over quantity, and that’s what’s made Kinsights really unique so far.
What do you hope parents will gain from Kinsights?
There’s so much information and misinformation going around about everything, and everyone has an opinion. We want Kinsights to help parents - both moms and dads - make informed, confident decisions about anything parenting throws at them, whether it’s what stroller to buy, managing a tricky medical condition, how to deal with an over-zealous little league coach, or when to let your daughter start dating.
How are answers given to the questions posed by parents?
In general, all the answers are given by other parents, and voted up by other parents as well. We have a few pediatricians around the community, but they play the role of a good hockey referee - you ideally don’t notice them until they need to step in, either to correct misinformation or help out with a particularly tricky medical question.
Dads are more active than ever before, how do you hope Kinsights will allow them to share/gain information?
Of our founding team, two of us are men, so dads have always been an incredibly important audience for us. It’s a little ridiculous that so many parenting communities, online and offline, treat dads as second-class citizens, if they allow them in at all. We believe that not only can men and dads make valuable contributions to general parenting discussions, but that there are a wide variety of topics that are unique to fatherhood, and we want to be a comfortable place to have those discussions. Put it this way: you won’t find ridiculous amounts of gaudy pink on Kinsights.
As a dad working in the parenting online space, what obstacles have you had to overcome in launching Kinsights?
Well, when we launched the site, I wasn’t yet a dad, so that was enough of a challenge. Fortunately, biology fulfilled its role, and we’ve got a cool little guy around now, so that problem is solved. Still, in a space dominated by women, there have been more than a few occasions where my credentials have been questioned, whether by bloggers, investors, or potential partners. It’s not so bad, though - my cofounder Jennifer is not only an amazing business partner, but she has the extra X-chromosome that helps us get over some of those hurdles.
How do you balance leading a startup and still connecting daily with your kid?
Running any business is a ton of work, and Kinsights is no exception. But being at a startup does afford a fair bit of flexibility, and I take advantage of it whenever I can. I make sure I’m in the office between 10-4 to take meetings and work directly with my team, but hours outside of that are pretty flexible. I usually head into the office early (6:30a), since my son won’t really notice the difference, but I’ll often be home by 5 or so. If he’s sleeping, I can get in a little extra work, but especially this time of year, there’s still plenty of time to take him out for a walk or feed him his first solids.
Lots of dads who have demanding jobs miss a lot of those little important moments, but I’m lucky enough to have the flexibility to be there when my family needs me, and a lot of that is only possible because I’m at a startup.
This interview is part of our ongoing series with leaders and companies involved in parenting products or issues.
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