Keeping #Children safe is a parent’s primary mission and there are several companies and inventions that aim to help parents in this endeavor. From the wearable and portable “Joey Tag” that helps monitor children’s whereabouts to "B’zT" #Startup brand of T-shirts that enable parents to track their children’s movements, innovative new kid-monitoring systems are all the rage.

Yet, there are very few--if any--wearable accessories that aim to monitor children’s behavior. While “gold stars” and apps such as “Chore Monster” are ways to reward children for exemplary behavior, a mother-turned-entrepreneur named Amanda Naqvi recently invented something truly innovative--a wearable accessory called the “Kudo Banz” which enable kids to proudly show off prizes for good behavior.

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Kudo Banz is a startup company that seeks to motivate kids to behave better via a band that kids can wear around their wrist like a bracelet. The better they behave, the more charms they can add to their wristband. Kudo Banz is a positive reinforcement tool that is akin to a charm bracelet. It even comes with a storybook, an app and original charm characters. As kids earn charms, they get access to magical digital features via the app. Kudo Banz was invented by a family in Connecticut; notably, mother of three Amanda Naqvi who was directly inspired by her own experiences as a parent.

Amanda recently discussed her creation, her startup business, being an entrepreneur and her hopes for its future.

Inventions and starting a business

Blasting News (BN): When did you first get interested in becoming a designer and what inspired Kudo Banz

Amanda Naqvi (AN): Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a passion for creating things on the computer.

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It all started on my Tandy Computer with my dot matrix printer. I loved designing things for my family and friends. There is something special about design that has always drawn me in. My inspiration behind Kudo Banz was my need to better parent my oldest, who was three at the time. I needed a tool that I could use to motivate him to listen better that worked at home AND on-the-go. I combined my passion for design with my desire to become a better parent - that’s when Kudo Banz was born.

BN: This item kind of works like a charm bracelet, so were you somewhat inspired by that kind of jewelry?

AN: As a creative person, I’ve always had a love for customizable things. My goal was to create something that my son, who was three at the time, could keep on the top of his mind. I also wanted it to be fun and exciting for him. That’s where the idea of the Kudo charms came in. He was excited he could choose which Kudo he earned and change it up whenever he wanted.

BN: Might you start to branch out to offer an increasing array of colors and styles for the trinkets that can be added onto the bands?

AN: Yes, we already have a big list of colors and designs in mind since different kids are motivated by different things.

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Right now, my oldest is into sports, my middle loves animals and my daughter likes all things cuddly and cute. Having designs that fit their personality keeps them excited and engaged. This is one of our motivations for expanding our collection and to keep inventing.

BN: You’ve stated that Kudo Banz aims to end public tantrums so, as a parent, have you experienced those sorts of things in the past?

AN: Yes, when all three of my kids were under the age of four, it was a challenging time. We were always on the go at playdates, running errands or on our way to preschool. More often than not, tantrums tended to happen at the most inopportune times in public places like at the grocery store or at the library. It is very common since transitions can be one of the toughest things to learn when you are four, three and one years’ old! These are the times I relied on my Kudo Banz the most. Kudo Banz gave me a plan of action. On our way to the grocery store, I’d remind my three and four-year-old about their goal, “Remember, we are working on listening on the first try. If you listen and follow Mommy’s directions while we are in the store, when we get to the checkout you’ll earn your first Kudo.”

Rather than reacting to the negative behavior, Kudo Banz helped my kids and I have a plan that was positive. If they started getting off track, I could remind them of their goal easily instead of raising my voice. Also, since the band was always right there on their wrist, they would look at it and remember its significance. It would naturally remind them of the goal we set together.

BN: What were some of the challenges of designing this product? For example, were any aspects of its aesthetics hard to master and what was it like to develop the accompanying app?

AN: One of the biggest challenges, but also the most fun, was creating the Kudo charm characters. We have fifty-six different Kudo designs in our collection so far. They each have a name and personality. Designing them was a challenge because, I’ll be honest, I’m a perfectionist! If something isn’t just right, I’ll work for hours to make sure it is. Developing the app was a lot of fun. We worked side by side with a very talented app developer who shared my passion for design and functionality. We are really happy with the way everything came together even though it is not easy to start a business.

BN: Noting that this invention encompasses a physical item, a digital app and a unique character, how long did it take you to bring to fruition?

AN: A full eight years, seriously! I first came up with the idea for Kudo Banz in 2009 when my oldest son was just three years old. I’ve used the method for all three of my kids at different times throughout their development. Since then, I’ve been holding onto the idea until the right moment. That moment happened this past year, when my husband quit his corporate job to put more time into our companies. It was then that we decided to really invest in the idea of Kudo Banz. Since October, we’ve both been very dedicated and have been pulling more than sixty-hour work weeks balancing both companies. It has been a lot of work but worth it! We love what we do and are excited to bring Kudo Banz to other families.

Future plans for the company

BN: So far, what has the public response to the Kudo Banz been like?

AN: Parents love it and they are so excited to finally have a tool to use that is positive. Like me, they’ve expressed that they are tired of resorting to raising their voices and repeating themselves. It makes them feel guilty and honestly isn’t that effective. Kudo Banz makes kids and parents feel good. It helps parents point out their child’s positive behavior instead of only focusing on the negative behavior. Parents have also been especially excited that they can use it on-the-go. Our generation is very mobile, so this is very important to them.

BN: Have you designed any other things and what is it like to be an entrepreneur?

AN: I have, I am an entrepreneur at heart. I also own another company, PaperRamma, which I often call my fourth baby. PaperRamma is a graphic design based personalization company. We pair our graphic designers one-on-one with clients to turn their ideas into custom art for their weddings, nurseries, or home.

We started in 2008 and are now one of Etsy’s top sellers. Being an entrepreneur is exciting and exhilarating. Each day is met by a new challenge which keeps things interesting. The only drawback is never “leaving the office”. When you own your own company, you are always in work mode since there is always something to do. Entrepreneurship runs in my family, dating back to my great-grandfather. I’m proud to carry on the tradition.

BN: How do you envision Kudo Banz evolving over the next few years and what other projects and events are coming up soon for you?

AN: Our plan is to turn the Kudo Banz characters, Drago and George, into a well-known brand. Additional books, parenting products, and even a TV series are all in our near future. Our mission is to raise awareness about positive parenting and give parents the tools they need to effectively implement it.

We also want to teach kids that learning to grow is fun and exciting, not scary, and overwhelming. We feel as though the Drago & George brand brings a fun and imaginative spin on learning to grow and develop. It is something that kids can easily relate to. Parenting is hard to navigate. It can be exhausting and overwhelming but it’s also one of the greatest jobs on earth. Nothing compares to the smile that your child gives to you, the one with that special sparkle in their eyes.

Among our biggest goals over the next few years will be to spread the word about positive parenting and help families parent more positively so they can enjoy more of those special moments. #Interview