Friday, November 27, 2015

Elizabeth Street


Finally! A Solution for How to Answer Kids' Tough Questions

Mar 14, 2014

Finally! A Solution for How to Answer Kids' Tough Questions

Children are inquisitive creatures. They can find just about anything curious, and often come up with more questions about everyday circumstances than there are answers in the encyclopedia for. Which is precisely why Constanze Niedermaier founded Whyzz, an online and mobile tool stocked with thousands of answers to questions big and small from where babies come from to how you can stop having babies--all in a kid-specific language that is easily digestable for those tiny, inquiring minds. We had a few questions of our own for Niedermaier, who was excited to chat with Elizabeth Street about the recent re-launch of Whyzz and what's on the horizon. 

ES: Whyzz is helping lots of parents with its incredible stock of answers. How did you decide to go from consulting an encyclopedia to answer your own kids to launching a business?
CN: I noticed that when I looked up an answer in an encyclopedia or a website that was written for grown-ups, it took me a while to understand some tricky facts myself. By the time I had translated them in a language appropriate for a 5-year-old, she had moved on to the next topic and the teachable moment was lost. 

The idea for Whyzz was first born when a friend's son kept asking me where water came from over and over again, and every answer led to the next question. So I thought a mobile tool to help with not only answering the initial question but all the follow-ups as well would be really helpful. We just relaunched with more questions and answers, and a lot of fun resources for parents like book recommendations and more. 

ES: Is there an area on Whyzz that is most popular? Or questions that are tough to tackle?
CN: There are the unexpected questions that only curious and imaginative children ask, like "Why don't sheep shrink when it rains"? or "Are fairies real?" Here, the difficulty lies in not giving a false answer but on the other hand not ruining their belief in magic either. And there is the tough topics parents shy away from out of fear they would harm their kids or because they're embarrassed to talk about the issue, like questions about death or sexuality.  

ES: What do your kids think about Whyzz?
CN: They really love it and often ask me to read them random answers. We would also often play the "brainstorming game" where we pick a question on Whyzz and come up with funny or serious answers ourselves. Than we would check what Whyzz says. I also often either record their answers with the Whyzz app or store them on my Whyzz timeline. This creates amazing memories.

ES: What's been the biggest challenge in growing the business?
CN: Not being able to move forward as quickly as I would like. As a mompreneur with a small team, there are only so many resources you can work with, and it's really tough to prioritize. 

ES: What's in store for the future?
CN: We're working on short animated videos that explain the facts, a weekly news feature so parents can talk to their kids about what's going on in the world and we're reaching out to different NGOs to invite them to help us educate kids about their causes and how kids can get involved. 

For a few highlights from Whyzz's topics, check out the slideshow above. 

By Biba Milioto

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