Social entrepreneur, Ekaterina Kislova, has devised a clever way of rehoming the toys that kids don’t play with any more writes Olive Keogh.
Every home with children has one – a box of toys the kids have outgrown. The toys are often still in good condition and social entrepreneur, Ekaterina Kislova, has developed a marketplace where they can be rehomed called Appytoy.
Like many good business ideas, Appytoy was developed from Kislova’s personal experience. “I’m the proud step-mum of a 6 year old boy and our house is full of toys,” she says. “We live in an apartment block with many other young families. Once, on my way home, I thought how great it would be if we could make all the toys in our apartments visible to each other. This way the kids could give away the ones they don’t play with anymore and get other ones. About the same time I discovered the sharing economy and realised that a sharing economy marketplace would be an ideal solution for the problem I had identified.”
At the time Russian-born Kislova was studying for an MSc in Business & Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology and she took part in an innovation module aimed at making students aware of what makes a successful app. There was a competition at the end of the module which Kislova won with an early version of what has since become Appytoy.
Positive feedback encouraged her to transform her idea from an academic project into a business and she turned to her friends Cathal Murphy and Evgeny Kazaev for help. Murphy is responsible for the visual and UX aspects of the app while Kazaev looked after the software development.
“I’ve always enjoyed travelling and taking on new challenges. Whatever project I ever participated in I made sure it would allow me to travel and learn new stuff,” Kislova says. “In 2014 I decided to take a year off work and go back to studying. I always wanted to study abroad so I searched for MSc degrees in Europe. Dublin seemed like a perfect destination. It was an English-speaking country, a relatively small city (which I was delighted about after spending all my life in Moscow, a huge and hectic megapolis) and a start-up hub. I felt there was an opportunity for me to grow professionally and to achieve more compared to what my own country could offer then. I was right. Ireland is a great place for entrepreneurs but it is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so I really enjoy my life here.”
Appytoy is free to use and those with something to give away earn points for their donation. Points can then be exchanged for a listed game or toy. Those who want “in” but don’t have anything to trade can buy points. The service is aimed at 0-9 year olds. The Appytoy website is already up and running and the app will be launched shortly. “Not only does Appytoy save pockets and clear space, it also teaches children to re-use and recycle and gives them an opportunity to meet new people and strengthen local communities,” Kislova says.
As the app’s target audience are active on social media it is being promoted primarily through Facebook, Twitter and the company’s website and blog. The company plans to expand into the UK in mid-2018 and into the EU in 2019. Likely business customers would include toy outlets with surplus stock and crèches. Asked who the company’s biggest competitors are Kislova says “the attic and the bin.” Visit appytoy.com