A challenge turns a family into entrepreneurs
By Keri Louise
When a mom and dad of two toddlers struggled with traditional methods of teaching good behavior, they invented their own high-tech educational tool. And it turned out to be such a good idea that Anne Arundel County is spending $ 100,000 on it.
Crownsville-based Plus Up LLC has secured the six-figure VOLT Growth Fund loan from the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) for its “Goodtimer” product. And the new company has already been recognized by Amazon among a handful of innovators nationwide.
Goodtimer is an educational toy that encourages children to develop healthy habits using positive reinforcement, tangible incentives and family involvement, says Adam Ashley, Founder and CEO of Plus Up LLC.
By the time their eldest two sons turned two, Ashley and his wife faced their “toughest parenting challenge” – raising well behaved children. They struggled with temper tantrums, picky eaters, and generally were content to make their children listen, especially in the morning and during the bedtime routine. “At first we tried downtime, but hated feeling like ‘bad guys’ and downtime just didn’t work to fix problematic behavior,” he says.
They had read a lot about positive parenting methods, but had never found an effective product to help implement these methods.
“With experience in consumer products, I could see that there was an incredible opportunity for an effective and easy-to-use product that could encourage children to improve their behavior in a way that was fun for the whole family,” explains Ashley.
The idea for Goodtimer came during a PTA fundraising event for their son’s elementary school. The event took place at a local ice rink with an arcade room where children won tickets to play games and then redeemed them for prizes.
“I remember being blown away by their enthusiasm when they won the tickets and got to choose what they could redeem them for,” said Ashley. “There’s just something really powerful about kids playing a game with a clear purpose, earning a tangible incentive, and then having the independence to choose how to spend it. “
Ashley describes the Goodtimer as a reimagined chore board for modern families with built-in auto allowance. Kids respond to Goodtimer’s glowing lights, symbolic prompting, and encouraging voice, with a play-style feature that’s interactive and simple enough for toddlers to understand.
The clock-shaped companion is intended for children from 3 to 10 years old. When kids make good choices, they turn on their Goodtimer and it starts tracking Good Time. Its display contains 12 illuminated light segments, similar to the hands of a clock. As the child continues to follow the house rules and earn more Bon Temps, more segments light up, showing the child’s progress. When all segments are completed, the child earns a Goodtimer token which can be kept and redeemed for additional incentives decided by the family.
“We believe that all parents are doing their best to raise healthy, well-behaved children who will grow up and have a positive impact on society,” says Ashley. “However, our research shows that many parents simply do not have the knowledge and / or the resources to effectively deal with challenging behaviors in their children.”
AAEDC’s mission to help businesses like Ashley’s grow. It works “as a catalyst for business growth”, increasing employment opportunities, broadening the tax base and improving the quality of life for citizens, “said Rosa Cruz, vice president of communications at the ‘AAEDC.
Part of this mission is to help innovative companies in the early stage, so that they can evolve their products, maximize market opportunities and create jobs, said Cruz.
The VOLT Growth Fund is specifically aimed at helping early stage technology companies in Maryland. “The VOLT Growth Fund offers favorable payment terms that will allow a company like Goodtimer to increase its income and facilitate future equity investments,” said Cruz.
Ashley says they have already started investing the capital of the Growth Fund to fund several major marketing initiatives for the back-to-school as well as the holiday season.
Goodtimer also received an Amazon Launchpad innovation grant.
According to Ashley, this has been “the most significant award we have received. We were one of only two companies selected by Amazon from among thousands of launch pad brands that received the grant in March 2021 and to be recognized by Amazon.com, the world’s largest retailer, as outstanding innovator was a great honor for us.