Jody Swain hates a messy house. When the longtime businesswoman was on maternity leave with her youngest child, she was horrified to find herself becoming a ‘mean’ mom. Tired of cajoling and begging to get her two oldest kids to pick up after themselves, something had to change.
Jody decided to use her experience in the business world to motivate her preteens to tidy up.
After tossing around different ideas and approaches, she came up with a system to ‘hire’ her kids to do chores. She was going to pay them to keep the house running smoothly and cleanly.
Starting with a simple paper version, Jody went on to create hireandfireyourkids.com, a parenting app that takes the ‘mean’ out of being a parent and puts the clean back into keeping house.
Now available for free on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and coming soon to Amazon this spring, the app lets parents post chores for hire where their kids hang out — on their phones.
By listing payouts or ‘wages’ (or a point system if the family chooses) for each task, kids apply for the jobs they want or jobs they will do because they want to earn rewards. Jody likens the app to setting up real world employment scenarios for kids.
In life, if you do a good job for your employer, you get praised and paid.
“If you don't follow through on responsibilities, you get warned and ultimately can be fired.”
The app now has users all over the world and the feedback to date has been great.
Kids can be praised and positive behaviors highlighted on the app. When a job is not done or done sloppily, kids can get a smartphone reminder to ‘get moving’ and honor their responsibilities. Parents can even send a photo of the incomplete job as motivation.
Getting seen online
When looking for an internet provider to showcase her app, Jody chose GoDaddy because of its strong recognizable name and the inherent trust factor in an established company. She felt very comfortable launching her vision online using their DIY website builder tool.
“I was able to put all my information and visuals into the template and see what it looked like before I published it,” says Jody.
“The simplicity of being able to play around with different color and theme ideas was an effective way to arrive at my finished product. I’m very visual and I know what I like when I can see it.”
“As a non-tech founder of a small business, leadership and retail management is my background. What I love about GoDaddy are the easily accessible stats and metrics that keep track of the site traffic. It helps you to see that the direction you are going in is correct.
“Every time I pop in to check the numbers it’s very reassuring to see that growth and development.”
COVID changed everything
Around the time COVID hit Canada hard in 2020, Jody was operating on two to three hours of sleep a night trying to run the business singlehandedly — until family intervened.
They wanted to know why Mom disappeared into the business and why I was always busy.
“That questioning was a real wakeup call that made me slow down and reconnect with my family.
“It was also the time I started to understand that I would need more hands if this business was to grow.”
She found helpful business connections in her community, including:
- The BACD
- U.B. Inc
- Whitby’s Tech Accelerator 1855
Jody’s sister also agreed to take on social media responsibilities.
These connections supplied them with courses, instructions and how-tos when setting up, building and growing a business. Hire and Fire your Kids became a real family affair.
A self-professed lifelong learner, Jody has seen the investment in her learning take her business acumen to the next level. She encourages other small business owners to look for locally available business incubators, especially for those just starting out or struggling.
“My advice is to find like-minded people to surround yourself with to grow.”
Attracting investor interest
Since then, HireandFireyourKids.com has become such a hit that Jody received four offers on the television show Dragons’ Den.
Her business also made it to the top eight of 6,000 candidates with RevTech Labs, a US fintech accelerator, which meant additional resources and business development support.
“Being selected from a great group of people and startups meant validation for the work we’ve done. The business was viewed as viable. That was a very proud moment for us.”
Jody now works full time developing the app and the company. Her vision for the future is to develop Hire and Fire your Kids into a full lifestyle brand featuring:
- Board games
- Virtual adventure games
- Activities to empower job and life skills in children
She even has plans for a ‘Hire and Fire Your Kids’ book series.
At the moment, she is focused on actively looking for an investor and a partner to take on the financial literacy aspects of the brand and help scale this ‘little app that could.’
“My goal is to find someone interested in owning that financial literacy space: teaching kids
about saving, spending, giving and investing.
“Partnering with a bank or financial institution would be incredible. These are fundamental and important skills every kid needs to be a successful adult.”
It really works!
Perhaps Jody’s best testimonial comes from the fact that her family still uses the app after all of these years.
The baby she started out with on maternity leave is now seven and loves to sign up for jobs; her young adults have developed good housekeeping habits. Most importantly, the app has helped keep the peace in her busy household.
“We came home from house hunting yesterday and our new puppy had eaten a plant and made a huge mess with soil spread everywhere. Before I knew it, my 7-year-old had the broom out and was already sweeping up the mess before I could even post the job!”
Hire and Fire Your Kids is available for free download at HireandFireyourKids.com.