Toronto’s Kytephone Graduates from Y Combinator, Launches First Smartphone for Kids

After gaining valuable experience working on two startup projects in 2011, Scanly, Renat Gataullin was looking for another problem to solve. He decided to create a user-friendly smartphone experience for his mother, who was not very tech-savvy. However, he soon realized that his mother’s generation is a shrinking market. “As baby boomers become more tech-savvy, their need for simple interfaces will diminish,” says Gataullin. So, he quickly decided to focus on a market on the other end of the spectrum – children.

Earlier this year, Gataullin and his co-founder Martin Drashkov and business partner Anooj Shah were fortunate to be selected to take part in the Kytephone, which transforms any Android phone into a child-friendly device, with all of the safety features that parents are seeking.

“We don’t want to be a seen as a way to child-proof a parents’ phone,” says Gataullin. “Instead, we want to revolutionize the way parents introduce their children to their first smartphone by empowering kids early-on with technology in a safe and responsible manner while safeguarding them from the dangers of smartphone usage, such as cyber-bullying or sexting.”

The Kytephone team chose the Android platform because their app can run on older Android models – giving parents a low-cost option for their child’s first phone. “We’ve seen a lot of parents give their kids their older Android phone to use with the Kytephone app. That way, they (the parents) have an excuse to buy themselves a newer phone,” says Gataullin. Plus, Android has significant worldwide market share. In February 2012, Android’s share of the U.S. smartphone market was over 50%.

The Kytephone team is still working out the payment model for the app. “Right now, we’re planning to offer a freemium model,” says Gataullin. “The standard features will be free but users will pay for more premium features like time limits on games. Parents can choose between limiting their child’s game playing time to an hour, or they could decide to cut-off game-playing after 10pm. We’re still collecting information on what advanced features users would be most likely to pay for as a premium.”

The app can be downloaded for free via