How the innovative MARO app helps parents have those difficult conversations with their children
As the parent of a six year old son, I am constantly on the lookout for new resources and technologies that can help raise him in a conscious and forward thinking manner.
Maro is an innovative new app that helps parents navigate difficult conversations with their K-12 children about mental health, emotional well-being, puberty, gender and diversity.
I met co-founders Kenzie Butera Davis and Lilly Mittenthal to learn more about their journey.
Afdhel Aziz: Kenzie, Lilly, welcome. Please tell us a little bit about maro and what is its purpose and purpose?
Kenzie Butera Davis: Maro brings the wisdom of leading experts in mental health and child development into the palm of a parent’s hand. We see our iOS app as the parent’s companion for child development as it uses engaging digital content and an AI-enabled bot to help parents.
Maro’s long-term vision is to support three key players in a child’s developmental experience from Kindergarten to Grade 8: the parent, educator, and clinician (doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, etc.). We have found that our in-app Daily Developmental Diary helps parents document critical and detailed information about their child’s well-being that can help clinicians determine the warning signs of diagnoses of disorders. mood, behavior, emotions or learning.
Ultimately, our mission drives everything we do. We believe that maro is the first step in our ability to catalyze transgenerational impact. In fact, we’re working on an impact report that will highlight our expected impact in 10 key focus areas, including decreasing rates of suicide, sexual assault, bullying, unplanned pregnancy, spread STIs and more.
Aziz: The impetus to create maro came from some pretty intense personal experiences, didn’t it?
Lilly Mittenthal: It made. Our CEO, Kenzie Butera Davis, was raped as a teenager, which made her incredibly passionate about supporting fellow survivors. I have dealt with depression all my life and am a suicide survivor. We both teamed up to create maro because “we want our parents to have what we create today. If we had a better system in place to educate families about mental health, sex, personal safety, etc., we might have known what resources to turn to before things got too bad. We really believe it would have made all the difference in our experiences ”.
Aziz: Thanks for sharing this guys and thanks for the work you do. What thematic areas and resources are available for parents?
Butera Davis: Our initial set of content is quite heavily focused on mental health as we launched a few months after the Covid crisis arrived in the United States. For example, we have a module for parents that teaches parents (1) the science behind anxiety as it manifests in the body (2) how to explain anxiety to children and (3) easy and easy activities short to incorporate mindfulness and anxiety relief into your family’s daily experience. To complement this module, we have several books and digital activities that talk to children about anxiety based on their age. Our initial content is primarily aimed at elementary-age children and parents, but we will soon be releasing content that will support our middle school audience as well. For example, we have an upcoming collaboration with Period.org and Helping Women Period to create content on menstruation!
The important thing to note is that we meet people where they are and believe that parents should teach using their values. We just do the research, distill the facts into super cool content for kids and parents to enjoy, and make difficult conversations a little bit easier as we grow up, rooted in medically accurate, evidence-based information.
Aziz: You’ve taken the admirable step of listing not only your key ROI metrics, but also the goals against them – tell us more about that?
Mittenthal: We have spent a lot of time compiling the available research and analyzing the effects of preventive education on a range of relevant and preventable public health crises. We are currently hiring our new team member, a technical advisor with a background in data science and machine learning, who takes this research and creates algorithms to project our impact over 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, etc. the following 10 areas. Number of:
- Unintended pregnancies avoided
- Prevention of sexually transmitted infections and diseases
- Avoided cases of power-based violence
- Bullying Avoided
- Students oriented towards mental health resources
- Suicides avoided (completed and attempted)
- Students with intellectual or developmental disabilities educated in mental and reproductive health
- Cases of alcohol and drug abuse avoided
- Teachers trained and equipped to manage students in crisis situations
- Parents have increased access to educational resources in mental and reproductive health
Aziz: It shows a level of discipline that I wish more founders and brands would follow. Finally, what advice do you give to other entrepreneurs like you to create social impact startups?
Butera Davis: Measure yourself against the same metrics as any other non-impact-driven, venture-funded startup. Social entrepreneurs have proven time and time again that impact scales. Yet there are groups of investors who view impact-driven startups as hardware for small businesses. To hit a home run, you need to know your market, know your technology, know your finances, and lose sleep like any other. You must communicate the ROI and SROI (Social Return on Investment) for stakeholders who engage with your brand. We strongly recommend that you consult The Rise Fund’s report on Calculating the Multiple Impact of Money (IMM) to effectively understand and communicate your value as a social or environmental impact startup.