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Interview with Dylan Collins, CEO & Co-founder of Super Awesome - Nasdaq Disruptors

Elyse Southwell interviews Dylan Collins, CEO & Co-founder of Super Awesome. Watch the video above or read the transcript below:

Elyse Southwell: Live with Nasdaq Disruptors, I'm Elyse Southwell and we are here at the Market Site in Time Square. Today, we're talking about kids specifically kid tech. Kid tech is the intersection between children and technology. Everyone either has children or we do a lot of reading hearing about kids using iPhone, smart TVs, Ipads and how do we help this generation engage with these devices in a safe and savvy way. Today, we're here with the CEO and Co-founder of Super Awesome Dylan Collins to talk to us about how to keep the web safe for children. Thank you for being with us.

Dylan Collins: Hi Elyse, it's nice to here.

Elyse Southwell: What is Super Awesome?

Dylan Collins: Well, Super Awesome is the leading kid tech company. So, our technology is used by hundreds of content donors and brands and to safely engage with children online. So our technology makes sure that kids are kept completely safe, completely anonymous online, but still allows the ecosystem to actually function. So, that let allows brands to do their thing, it allows content donors to distribute content.

Elyse Southwell: So the kid tech marketplace, can you explain to all of our viewers here watching what exactly that means?

Dylan Collins: Sure. So, the kid tech space is a relatively new one. It has I suppose come about because of the rapid growth in children using the internet and using online services, and that has led to the need for technology which can provide functionality, but still keep kids completely safe and completely anonymous. So, there are a lot of new data privacy laws out there for children, which prescribe a specific way of engaging with them, so our technology is used by companies to engage with kids and to make sure that they're upholding those same laws and keeping kids safe online.

Elyse Southwell: You know it's incredible I have a two-year-old and a three year old and they both know how to use IPhone and the IPad. They swipe, they close, they watch the ads, they even know how to skip the ads, how did you come up with the idea for Super Awesome?

Dylan Collins: Well, we saw the trend that was happening 4 or 5 years ago of kids shifting from mostly watching TV to then starting to pick up tablets and smartphones exactly like your kids, and it was clear that there were only going to be more children coming online and that there were going to be tools and technology required for new services and for new products to be built specifically for kids. And so we started a company very specifically to be the technology platform and for really the entire space, the entire ecosystem, so that we could have safer apps for children and safer experiences for children as they got, they become a bigger part of the internet.

Elyse Southwell: What defines kids in terms of ages?

Dylan Collins: Well, that's a really interesting question. So in the US historically that is being defined as kids under the age of 13, but with new data privacy laws now rolling out in Europe that age is actually been extended up to 16, and I think in time in the US you're going to see and that age move up towards 16 as well.

Elyse Southwell: And is there a starting age for kids or is it really like 0 to 16?

Dylan Collins: It's pretty much 0 and it's sort of this, the internet in general was built to capture as much data as possible as you, and when you land on a web page or you open an app, there's a lot of technology that is capturing your personal data. It was never really designed with the notion of huge amount of children that were going to use it. So now what's happening is this massive realization that we have to redesign and rebuild the internet to make it safer for kids up to the age of 13 or soon 16.

Elyse Southwell: Globally how many children are online today?

Dylan Collins: It depends country by country, but I mean you are talking in the billions at this point. I mean in the US alone about 11 thousand kids go online for the first time every single day.

Elyse Southwell: Oh wow, every single day.

Dylan Collins: Yeah. I mean this is the thing people don't realize, there's only going to be more children spending more time online. So, this is an issue that is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and that's not going to go away.

Elyse Southwell: Are all of these children engaging with smartphones or is it desktop, everything?

Dylan Collins: It's absolutely everything. Every time a parent gets a new device they hand the old device down to their kids, or if it comes like the family tablet or whatever it is, so every time Apple release a new device it means there's one more in the home, so there's just hundred, maybe not hundreds, but certainly at this point at least every home has at least one tablet that kids can access and in most countries, it's incredible.

Elyse Southwell: Can you talk to us about sort of this timeline from a development standpoint, were developers always thinking about children or no?

Dylan Collins: Well, you know the reality is when you look at things like Facebook and YouTube, I mean these were built sort of 8 or 10 or 12 years ago when there were only a fraction of children online than they were today, which we never contemplated that you would have this many children using the internet at such a young age, so the reality is at Silicon Valley simply didn't think about kids. Their solution to kids was tick a box and tell us you're over 13, now they're being forced to face with the reality that kids are the fastest growing online audience group on the planet.

Elyse Southwell: So you mentioned some of the compliance regulations and some of the data laws that are involving children, can you address how Super Awesome is addressing things like GDPR?

Dylan Collins: So we build technology that is what's called zero data by design, so it makes sure that it's never ever capturing personal information on the user. So, anytime a child is interacting with a game or an app that is powered by Super Awesome, their information, their profile is being kept completely anonymous and safe. So, our technology was built originally for COPA in the US and now as GDPR roles under Europe and we support GDPR and we also support other data privacy laws for kids that are being rolled out around the world.

And GDPR is a big challenge because it allows countries in Europe to pick a different age for the child depending on the country, so Germany is defining a child as 16, the UK is defining it as 13, our technology handles all of that from the back end.

Elyse Southwell: So for everybody watching all they really probably know and think is that their child is holding a smart phone and engaging with it, and Super Awesome can you explain just how exactly you are interacting with that device for the people watching?

Dylan Collins: Sure. So, our technology goes into the game or it will go behind the advertisement, so that even though there won't be any change, to the actual content your child is seeing and our technology is ensuring that no other company and no third party is secretly capturing data on your child when they're looking at the screen. So we're used by hundreds of brands and content companies, so folks like Disney and Mitel and Cartoon Network and so forth, we're the technology that is helping them stay kids safe.

Elyse Southwell: So which is interesting because Warner Brothers, Mitel, Disney, these are all while they appeal to children of course they have adult arms as well, but they appeal for the most part to the children and that's their demographic and there are for profit business. So, how are they taking these steps to make sure that they're user base stays really safe and protected?

Dylan Collins: Well, they are investing very heavily in our technology, so for many of them their monetization model is around advertising. So we have actually defined the kids safe ad market, so we have a watermark that goes on all of our ads which guarantee that not only are the ads never capturing personal information on children, they also guarantee the ads are absolutely appropriate for that age range as well, and what's happening is that as the budget shifts from TV into digital, the advertisers and brands are looking for the safest way to engage with kids.

Elyse Southwell: So, did the brands adhere that seal or stamp on their ad creative that then goes into the ads server or is it the distribution end that then puts that Super Awesome seal on the ad?

Dylan Collins: So we control the actual ad serving technology in this particular case, so it's only when the ad goes through our technology and we actually process it that we put that watermark there.

Elyse Southwell: Got it.

Dylan Collins: So that is very much our stamp, our certification, and so whenever you see a Super Awesome logo, you know that you're looking at something that’s guaranteed to be kid safe.

Elyse Southwell: So does Super Awesome have its own ad server like DFP and equivalent to DFP but for children?

Dylan Collins: Exactly. We’ve built something called Awesome Ads which is specifically built for under 13. It never ever ever looks at the profile, it never captures cookies, it is only looking at the actual content on the child's game or on the video or whatever it is. So, we provide a completely anonymous ad serving experience.

Elyse Southwell: You guys are tackling such an important part of this space for the children, for the end user, but obviously all of the makers of the ads and everybody that’s at the content platform, everybody understands how important this is, what do you predict for this kid tech space that you pioneered really?

Dylan Collins: Well, at the moment the kid tech space is growing at about 25 and 30% a year, and by the end of next year it will be close to by the billion and a half dollars in terms of market size, but there are still 5 or 6 billion dollars still in the TV consistent that is shifting across. So in the kids direct spaces this is going to be sort of 3 or 4 billion dollar market in the next 2 or 3 years, and then you've got Silicon Valley that is starting to wake up to all of this as well, which is going to make it a much much larger topic as the likes of Facebook and Google realize that they have no choice, but to have a safe engagement and approach for under 13s.

And then of course with the new European data privacy law, that's extending the market everywhere else. The reality is that the kid’s internet is going to become a standalone thing over the next 5 or 6 years. This is not a temporary trend, this is what the future looks like.

Elyse Southwell: You know it's so interesting and you could think of so many questions really about this even the ages.

Dylan Collins: Right, right.

Elyse Southwell: Because even at 13 in some countries or 16 in other countries like they are still children at 14 or 17.

Dylan Collins: Right, right. Well, I think over time right now you have all the data privacy laws very focus on companies and enforcing it around companies, I think overtime you're going to see a zero data access to the internet right become sort of like a UNICEF global children's right that they must be allowed to have zero data access to the internet, because I mean there is no reason that we have to be capturing personal information on 8 year old’s and 9 years old’s, simply not needed to make services work for them.

Elyse Southwell: So, you've been in the business for a while, what brought you to this idea?

Dylan Collins: Well, I had a couple of investments in the kids space a few years ago, it sort of got us and the founding team broadly looking at what was going on with children, where were they spending time, it was clear that a shift was happening from TV across to digital in terms of where kids were spending, where were they consuming content, and then as we started to see data privacy laws grow, it was very clear there were only going to be more kids spending more time online, there was going to be more data privacy, so someone was going to have to build the technology for all the companies shifting into the space to be able to build safe games and safe aps and safe platforms for kids.

And it was never going to be Google or Facebook, because they're focused on a data driven business model. We are the opposite of Facebook and Google, so that was our whole mission, that was our vision, let's build the technology that is going to allow the kid safe ecosystem to grow.

Elyse Southwell: Wow, so interesting. Some of Nasdaq themes are ambition and entrepreneurship, do you have any advice for all of our entrepreneurs out there?

Dylan Collins: Well, I think if you've done sort of the math on your opportunity never ever ever get sort of beaten down by people telling you no. For the first two or three years at Super Awesome people were telling us no the whole time. They said look kids aren't going to matter, kids are a small constituent on the internet, you're always going to need data in any sort of technology that you're producing, but we knew that this was not the direction of travel, so we were willing to ignore what almost everyone else was saying because we had done our own homework, we had the courage of our own convictions.

So I think when you've got a vision and you can really objectively support it, you got to block out everything else. Sometimes you just got to focus, turn off all the other social platforms, turn off all the distractions and just go for it.

Elyse Southwell: Dylan, thank you so much for being here. That was great, that was really great and thank you all for watching. I'm Elyse Southwell and this is Nasdaq Disruptors.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.