Miami — Consumer electronic companies based in Latin America are hard to come by, but today SoyMomo, the maker of a smart watch and tablet built just for kids, announced a $5 million Series A funding round, bringing its valuation to $40 million and its total raised to date to more than $10 million.
“We want to become the Apple for kids,” said Aníbal Madrid, CEO and founder of SoyMomo.
Equitas Capital was the sole investor.
But SoyMomo isn’t looking to build an Apple Watch for kids; instead the company focuses on safety, purposely limiting the watch’s capabilities. The idea for the watch - which was SoyMomo’s first product - was so parents could know where their kids were at all times. With that in mind, the watch has a GPS capability and can only dial and receive calls from 20 pre-registered numbers. Both the watch and tablet - the company’s second product - are also outfitted with artificial intelligence software capable of detecting inappropriate content for children as well as cyberbullying attacks. The company also sells a pair of headphones and a baby monitor.
“Your kid might be playing any game [on a tablet], and if another kid sends him a bully message, our system will automatically detect what’s happening on the screen, and will take a screenshot and send it to the parent so they can support their kid,” Madrid told Bloomberg Línea.
The idea is not just to stop the bullying, but also to notify the parents so they can offer emotional support to their children, too. The company says that in the last year alone, the software has blocked more than 36,000 cyberbully attacks.
The Chile-based company launched with just the watch in November 2016 to take advantage of the Christmas season. The company was part of Start-up Chile and Scale Up Chile, receiving $200,000 in equity-free money. In 2020, the company launched its baby monitor and in the last 12 months it reports revenues of about $6 million. For the year of 2020-2021 the company reports 167% growth, up from 127% the year before.
The company sells 70% of their products through retailers, and the other 30% of sales are direct to consumer (DTC) from the SoyMomo website.
SoyMomo, which already has sales teams in Spain and Germany, plans to use the money from the current raise to expand into Colombia, Mexico and Peru as well as improve its algorithm.
“We’re working on a new version of the algorithm that’s going to be able to detect depression based on the child’s actions and search history,” said Madrid. The tablet will know when a child’s actions change and if they start searching for negative things that could be associated with depression. Madrid said the algorithm is already underway, but they are doing extensive testing before releasing it.
“Getting a false positive and telling a parent their kid has depression when they don’t, is something we take very seriously,” Madrid said.
Madrid holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Chile, and he started the company after becoming an uncle and taking on a fatherly role, since his sister is a single mom.
“I started thinking about her [his niece’s] future, and I noticed that kids 3 and 4-years-old were playing with phones, which I thought was really sad. When I spoke with their parents and asked why they gave their kids phones, they said it was because they wanted to know where their kids were,” he said.
“Then I took a plane to China [to look for manufacturers],” he said.