The UAE start-up aims to create an ecosystem built around mothers and a suite of apps for families in the Mena region
In today’s world, internet safety can be difficult especially for kids. A reality that Smeetha Ghosh-Jorgensen experienced with her own son when she started to introduce him to the digital world. By joining an online community for parents to seek advice, she soon realized the lack of resources on how to address the issue. At 39, the veteran corporate maker intends to fix that problem through Periscope Media, a company she co-founded with a friend and runs as chief executive. With more than 15 years in product and marketing experience working with multinationals in Europe and the Middle East, she plans to create an ecosystem that is built around mothers, with a suite of apps for families in the Mena region. A journey she already thinks to expand to Saudi Arabia and maybe India.
What drew you from a corporate career to launching your own startup?
I have wanted to start and run my own business for a very long time. I wanted to have something I could call my own. It was while discussing my concerns with a friend (now co-founder) about mobile applications for children and how I felt that I wasn’t sure of the safety and appropriateness of them all for my young son that the vision for Periscope started. Covid accelerated our vision as we realized kids were spending a lot more time on their digital devices. So for us (me and my co-founder) to launch our company and our first product, this was the best time.
How did you get the idea of entering the edutainment market?
We are not just in the edutainment market for kids. Periscope has a broader vision. We want to be relevant to children and families in the MENA region by creating mobile applications that are completely safe, of the highest quality and provide real value to our users. We don’t want to encourage mindless screen time and we want to launch products that we would be very happy to have our own children use. We are looking at creating a suite of products for children (in the spaces of fintech, edutainment, health and wellness to name a few) by co-creating with a community for mothers (another product from Periscope). We believe mothers to be an integral part of our ecosystem as mums know their kids best and make >95% of purchase decisions around their children.
What kind of services do you provide?
Our first app teaches children money management by making it a fun and a real-life everyday experience for them. We believe money management skills are crucial to our childrens’ lives and futures and on a broader scale impacts economies and things like poverty rates and social and gender inequalities. We also realized from our own research that a lot of parents are not sure how to teach their children money skills and lessons. Our future apps will be around edutainment and health and wellness.
Why focusing on the MENA region? What is specific to this market?
I grew up in the UAE so for me this region is home. Having lived here for over 25 years and worked here for almost 10 years, my experience and awareness of this region (people, culture, socio-economic dynamics) is quite high. This region has already started to see a huge movement towards technologies and services that target MENA consumers specifically and that is very encouraging. Having said that I believe there is still a lot of potential to do more in the region.
It seems that there are a lot of new platforms delivering online courses and education in the Middle East (abwab in Jordan for example). What will be your difference?
We are not delivering a course. Our money management app will not be course-based but linked to everyday real-life experiences that kids can relate to very easily. We expect the app experience to be integrated into their lives.
What lesson did you learn during your career that you would like to implement into your entrepreneur journey?
Launching a product in the MENA region requests to really understand the target consumer and my experience working in B2C companies here will really help me with that.