Fundsup talked to Marjolein van Tilburg, Founder and CEO of Chatlicense. ChatLicense is a family app, a smartphone diploma game for kids and teens, with a dashboard for (grand)parents. Their mission is to connect generations and help them use screens responsibly. Launching in Q3 of 2023, exciting times approach for the company.
A Dutch version of this article can be read on the website of our partner: Emerce.
How did ChatLicense come to fruition?
“Well, I saw that my 10-year-old daughter needed more guidance when using her first phone. As a parent I had a hard time myself instructing her properly, as I did not have a phone at that age. My own background is in the legal side of things, data protection and mediation. I felt that the smartphone situation needed to be better both for kids and for parents. As a new fact of life, kids are confronted with this intrusive technology from a young age, with no introduction on how to communicate, interpret the screen or protect yourself. I started exploring the startup field and see how things worked. I wanted to build a solution that creates universal understanding of the impact of technology on our lives and gives everyone tools to handle it properly.”
Are you afraid that things might go in the wrong direction, for example, concerning your own children?
“I definitely feel the need to do better. My co-founders share the same sentiment and vision. We work with a strong inhouse team. For example our Chief Content, Nizar El Manouzi, is a presenter of the famous Dutch TV children’s program “Het Klokhuis”. Our Chief Tech previously was previously the CTO at Booking.com and Mollie.”
How do you plan to bring ChatLicense to the market?
“We believe in collaboration. In making the app, we work closely together with Erasmus University and several experts in the field. Also going to market: to make the necessary change possible we need to work with partners. So we follow a B2C ánd a B2B route.
The app will be available Q3 this year in both Dutch and English. Our Season 1 is created for first-time users; kids who get their first smartphone from their parents. We want them to go through ChatLicense and understand what they’ll experience with their phone. We provide an introductory course, and once completed, the parents can unlock the desired apps for their kids. During their first year new content will be dropped until they are ready for Season 2.”
What is the biggest problem you aim to address?
“Our goal is to be the number one guide in online life. We address the complete range of issues that come along, age based. So from children’s mental health & bullying to communication etiquette and cybersecurity issues like scamming and phishing. We want to empower children to navigate these challenges safely.”
How will you monetize ChatLicense?
“ChatLicense will be a paid app ensuring that users get real value for their investment. We provide high-quality storytelling and engaging content created by skilled storytellers and game developers. Parents will purchase ChatLicense for peace of mind, knowing that their children are aware of the digital world’s risks. Our goal is to help people safely navigate the digital highway and if done well, parents are willing to invest in that. B2B partners will join forces to reach the wider mass. We are purpose driven and it’s really our aim to realize happy cyber vibes all over the world.”
How has the initial feedback been for ChatLicense?
“We believe constant co-creation is the way to make an impactful product. Last April, we tested the first version of the app with primary school kids in grades 4, 5 and 6 and we received excellent feedback. The children responded positively, appreciating the fact that ChatLicense provides guidance on navigating digital challenges. It’s a different starting point that resonated well with them, and we’re excited to continue improving based on their feedback. We’re currently adding the parental dashboard, as parents also want and need to be updated about the online world of the next generation to be able to support their kids.”
What are your plans for expanding internationally?
“Although we are initially targeting the Dutch market, we see Chatlicense as a solution to an international problem. Because of that, we introduced the company as part of the Dutch mission to CES in Las Vegas last January. We bring an international solution for responsible tech use, something that is resonating all over the world. Our plans are to expand in Europe and we are looking to go overseas soon as well.”
How do you plan to secure funding for Chatlicense?
“We are now planning our seed round for this summer. Also here we believe in collaboration. Therefore, we look for investors with knowledge of education, AI and media. We believe they can accelerate our growth. We offer a social solution with international potential with a tech back bone. It’s a new step in the smartphone career of the next generation. So, we also seek funding in this seed round from angel investors who believe in bringing in a solution for the problem. Together we can really make a difference and build our app to the next level.”
Do you have some advice for other founders?
“Get out of the building, find allies and co-founders who share your dreams, who you can trust and have a good time with. If you believe in something, give yourself the time and space to pursue it. Connect with as many people as possible, gather input, see how the story resonates, and identify who shows interest and takes action. If you radiate passion and authenticity, you are likely to find like-minded supporters. That’s what worked for me, and I believe it can work for others too.”