When Walid Al Saqqaf learned he was going to become a father, like any dad-to-be, his priorities shifted, and his entrepreneurial prowess was potentiated by his paternal instincts. While his wife was busy gestating their daughter, Al Saqqaf became pregnant with a brainchild of his own: BabyHuddle, due next week to launch out of private beta and make its mark on the world.
If sharing is caring, BabyHuddle - Al Saqqaf’s second venture, after Yell-acquired TrustedPlaces, a social review and recommendation tool he founded in 2006 with Sokratis Papafloratos - is a potluck for advice. Self-funded, the site is made up of a tiny team of parents with big aspirations for both their children and the future of parenting. And while his devotion to TrustedPlaces cost him his girlfriend at the time, BabyHuddle seems to have garnered his wife’s support and approval.
Polyvore For Parents
Inspired by Polyvore, a community for tastemakers where giving fashion advice and asking for style tips is especially encouraged, BabyHuddle is a community where parents can be comfortable soliciting suggestions and sharing product recommendations. Like Polyvore, which lets users “clip,” or bookmark, appealing garments and accessories from across the web, BabyHuddle encourages parents to post products they find particularly helpful. While Polyvore lets users create lookbooks by mixing and matching items in “sets,” BabyHuddle promotes the creation of lists, in which parents can collect products for a particular function, such as developing hand-eye coordination. And just as Polyvore lets users seek counsel for pressing wardrobe concerns, BabyHuddle incorporates a Quora-like question-and-answer forum with a similarly-structured algorithm. Whether a parent has an urgent query about his or her child’s ear infection or is simply looking for the best playpen, BabyHuddle functions as a convenient knowledge aggregate.
A Social Support System
BabyHuddle, despite its encyclopedic focus, is more than a resource; it’s a support system. After attending classes for expecting parents, Al Saqqaf realized there was a need for a place where parents could support one another and address group concerns. “When you have conversations with other parents at these events,” he said, “you discover that they have the same questions, concerns, fears.” Because users can both comment on and add products and reviews to existing lists, BabyHuddle functions as an ever-expanding source of knowledge and discovery. As Al Saqqaf enthusiastically noted, “A mom who has had three or four kids can still learn. It’s as much a site for existing parents to come in and create content as it is for new parents.” BabyHuddle incorporates traditional game mechanic elements, which motivate users to rack up points by generating suggestions and helpful contributions. Once users acquire a certain number of points, they receive a $15 Amazon credit. Al Saqqaf also plans to incorporate a mobile component in the near future, particularly to enable purchases and posting comments from users’ phones. Al Saqqaf anticipated, “I’d love it if you could take a picture of a product in a shop and see what list it would fit in.”
A Startup With A Sensitive Side
Children, as they say, change everything, especially one’s relationship with one’s work. “The way I work is much more flexible. I have to be able to work, but I do have a 9 month old daughter. I also have to work under deep sleep deprivation,” Al Saqqaf quipped. In the testosterone-driven startup sphere, BabyHuddle is uniquely fueled by estrogen and oxytocin, enabling parents to tend and befriend, all the while nurturing a new generation of children and parents who truly realize the value of interdependence. Having successfully brought forth a business and a child, Al Saqqaf said he has discovered that one key piece of advice is universally applicable to all forms of development: focus.