There’s been a lot of conferences where the focus has been centered around consumer tech. But a new one is set to make its debut in Silicon Valley will put the focus on a more nuclear demographic and one that is probably largely ignored by many tech companies: the family. That’s right, this particular demographic is a bit more complex than simply reaching out to males or females. Rather, companies that try and market to these segments must be aware of multiple issues, like whether there are children in the family, the personalities of each member, and much more. And you can’t discount this group one bit. Why? Because it’s a major powerhouse with incredible purchasing power that could make or break any business. To help shine some light on this, 500 Startups is putting together a brand new conference that they’re calling the MamaBear family tech conference.
This one-day conference is scheduled to focus on what they call the “Mama market” which I believe is more termed for mothers and the family unit, which probably makes most of the purchasing decisions in the group. According to 500 Startups, the mother market has enormous potential in the marketplace–purchases have totaled over $2.1 trillion and it’s continuing to grow. So the goal of this conference is to help attendees understand new technology for moms, their children, and families across a wide range of topics, including education, safety, health & wellness, and more.
So this event also includes the dads, right? Nope…most likely not. Why is that? Because family tech is the new undiscovered country when it comes to emerging technology. In a 2010 MSNBC story, Jodi Kahn, executive vice president of iVillage Networks, told a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show, that we are now living in a “female-driven economy“. Tina Sharkey, president of BabyCenter LLC, a network of parenting sites, even states that for moms, “technology is no longer intimidating–it’s part of her everyday life.” And it’s true…no matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or a working one, technology is going to help you keep track of your family and help the home run more smoothly. A while ago, mobile carriers were promoting special cell phones that parents could give to their children as a means of keeping track of them. Now, more startups and different types of technology are sprouting up left and right to help change the family dynamic.
Stephanie Azzarone, founder and president of Child’s Play Communications, cites a recent BabyCenter study that states that 39% of women surveyed indicated that they used technology more since they became mothers and also that a woman’s tech purchase criteria will change when they have a child. Nearly half of them stated that technology would “empower them to be a good mom.” During Mrs. Azzarone’s recent trip to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, she pointed out a few highlights that shed some light on how the technology industry is interested in reaching out to families: tablet devices being made specifically for children so parents don’t have to worry about their iPad devices being broken, desktop parental control software that can be updated through mobile devices, thumb-drive devices that can be attached to other things to help keep track of them, assorted bags that will charge gadgets, and much more.
The MamaBear conference will feature a diverse array of speakers, many of whom are involved in the family tech scene. Attendees will have the chance to hear from great folks like:
- Sean Percival: CEO of Wittlebee
- Randi Zuckerberg: Former Facebook marketing head and founder of her own agency, R to Z Studios
- Alison Bryant: President of PlayScience
- Will Houghteling: Audience Development Strategy at YouTube
- Miles Ludwig: VP, Managing Director of Content Innovation Lab with Sesame Street workshops
- Chris Hulls: CEO & Co-Founder of Life360
- Monica Rogati: Senior Data Scientist at LinkedIn
- Marc Zachary: VP of Business Development & Operations at Disney Interactive
- Lisa Alderson: EVP of Sales and Business Development with Plum District
- Raj Kapoor: Managing Director of Mayfield Fund
- LeVar Burton: Actor, Director, and Co-Founder of RRKIDZ
Yes, that’s right…famous actor LeVar Burton will be gracing the MamaBear Conference with his presence and it’s only fitting because many of us probably grew up watching Mr. Burton on television during the many episodes of Reading Rainbow. And probably doubly fitting that he’s at the conference since this is probably where he will share his experiences transforming the world-famous children’s series from the small screen into something that kids in this new generation are more comfortable using on the second screen. I’m sure that the audience will get some really good observations and insights from his keynote address.
The MamaBear Conference is scheduled to be on Friday, April 20, 2012 at Microsoft’s Mountain View campus. Tickets are available for this one-day event for $325 and a discount for startups ($225)–of course there’s a criteria for those claiming to be startups: raised less than $5 million in capital. You can get your ticket here.