Going through a divorce is never easy. Adding kids to the equation makes everything even harder. Danish start-up entrepreneurs Mikkel Eskesen and Søren Christiansen want to simplify communication between divorcees and put the children first with their app SwapKids.
“It is hard to communicate with somebody you might not want to talk to. SwapKids offers a solution to a difficult situation,” says Mikkel Eskesen, CEO and Founder of SwapKids.
From idea to start-up
Two years earlier, Mikkel had spotted a gap in the market for a communication tool tailored for divorced parents. From personal experience he knew what issues often arise for the children involved.
“My parents are divorced, so I know the feeling of going on a bus back and forward between two homes. This is my social stake in this,” says Mikkel.
“In addition, I was keen to try the start-up business,” he says.
Embracing his entrepreneurial spirit, Mikkel quit his steady job and went whole-heartedly for his new business idea. He came up with a prototype of an app, made some calls and pitched his idea to his network. When he got Programmer Søren Christiansen on the line, there was an instant connection.
“Turned out, Søren had just quit his job as well! We have the same goals, entrepreneurial mindset and we both shared the vision of SwapKids.”
As a divorced father-of-two, Søren could offer his own input on how to solve the communication difficulties that many divorcees with children face. Mikkel and Søren started working together and launched the app SwapKids in late 2016.
Being divorced and having children together is a complex situation. Thee is an increasing number of parents which shared custody, especially in the Nordic countries.
“The parents can share the life and upbringing of their children even though they might live apart. This is where SwapKids come into the picture. We are not solving their problems; we are making it work for them.”
“This is the whole idea behind SwapKids; you can make it work! You might not be quite there yet, but if it is your goal, we can help you along the way. We can provide a solution. SwapKids is not just an app. It is a solution which divorced parents and children find truly valuable.”
An app for the whole family
Developing their business concept, Mikkel and Søren soon realised that SwapKids shouldn’t just be for divorced parents. They want to offer an app which the whole family can use; grandparents, so called ‘bonus parents’ and other members of the extended family – not to forget the children themselves.
“When the kids get older, their problems often grow as they become the messenger between the parents. With SwapKids, the children have a way of actually seeing for themselves when they are at dad’s place or at mum’s. They can see upcoming events and have a clearer picture of what is happening when they are with the other parent. SwapKids becomes a platform for the kids to communicate easier with both parents.
“But SwapKids is not just a problem-solver; it is also a solution to put people on the path towards becoming a new kind of family.”
So how does it actually work? SwapKids combines all calendars in one app as opposed to them being spread over different services. The SwapKids calendar has unique features such as the option to leave comments on events – a bit like a Facebook thread.
“A good example of this is an upcoming birthday party. What if you have the kids one week and receive the invitation, but the party is the following week when the kids are with your ex? Whose responsibility is it to get a present and make sure the kids get to the party?” says Mikkel.
“With SwapKids, the other parent is notified well in advance. All events have to be accepted by the other parent to make sure both are up to speed. The app will calculate when you have the kids and only the parent whose week it is, will receive a notification of the party. That way, the kids don’t miss the birthday party or get disappointed.”
SwapKids is not just a problem-solver; it is also a solution to put people on the right path towards becoming a new kind of family.-Mikkel Eskesen
The Danish duo is looking at launching a Premium version of SwapKids within short due. The paid version will offer additional features for other scenarios divorced parents and their children might find themselves in.
“When you are divorced, in many cases you will find a new girlfriend or boyfriend. Sometimes they also have children from past relationships. As a ‘bonus parent’, you might need to access your new partner’s calendar or add another home to your own calendar. This feature forms a part of the Premium version of SwapKids.”
IP: A must for investors
As most start-ups, Mikkel and Søren are looking for investors to support their business. Key to securing investment is a solid intellectual property portfolio. Awapatent’s Associate and Legal Counsel Maria Dam Jensen has helped them with their IP.
“We especially helped SwapKids by translating their business plan into trademark technical terms in order to have the best possible trademark registration,” says Maria.
“This is often a challenge that companies face when applying for a trademark. Having a well and thought-through application will lead to the best possible trademark registration, which will often turn into an important business asset for the company”, she says.
“We want investors and we want to scale this globally. The investors will never get onboard unless we have a registered trademark. It was crucial we had this in place before we launched the app,” says Søren.
He adds with a smile:
“In fact, we have just closed a deal with a business angel now.”
Applying for a trademark has had additional and unexpected benefits for the entrepreneurs.
“We had to put our vision in writing, which really helped us to get closer to our goal. Which our goal is? To help people get divorced, being divorced and then getting on with things afterwards. And to make things work for the sake of the kids.
“We are doing it for them, first and foremost.”
SwapKids currently has 8000 users in Denmark. The app is available in Danish, but an English version will be launched soon. The app is available through AppStore.
For more information on SwapKids, please visit their website www.swapkids.dk