White label social networking platform Grou.ps is the latest to join the increasingly crowded “private networks for posting about babies” space (we may need a better title for this…), which has been heating up as of late. The company has just launched a new mobile app called Babyzilla on both iOS and Android, which allows families to privately communicate, post updates, chat, and share photos, videos, stories and more.
The app is built on top of the Grou.ps social networking platform, a Ning competitor that’s grown from the 200,000 private communities it supported back in August 2011, to the over 400,000 communities it supports today. The company reached profitability in the third quarter of this year, and has recently been expanding into new areas. For example, in June, Grou.ps launched LoveBucks, a subscription-based monetization platform for online publishers – basically, micropayments for websites. That program now has over 200 publishers on board.
With Babyzilla (this name is incredibly appropriate!), Grou.ps is expanding its focus once again. Instead of merely providing the tools that allow others to make their own private networks, the company has gone ahead and used its mobile app infrastructure to build a niche social networking platform for families. The app, however, is entering a crowded space, as noted above. In addition to private, general purpose social networks like Path, startups have been busy launching apps specifically for families sharing updates about the kids. For example, we’ve looked at the launches of Care.com’s Karoo, Burst, Sidebark, 23Snaps, and Rootsy recently – and all these debuted between this summer and now!
To differentiate itself, Babyzilla offers support for push and email notifications, and will soon support SMS notifications for feature phone users. It also offers real-time chat, and tools to download all your photos and updates at year-end. This includes the option to order a print-out of those items, says Grou.ps founder Emre Sokullu. However, the biggest differentiator here is price. Babyzilla is not free. The app will be available as a $9.95 per year subscription service. (The coupon code LAUNCH1000 will allow you to take 40% off through the end of the month.)
“When it’s your family at stake, you care about privacy,” Sokullu says, explaining the decision to charge, “and that’s why we’ve made it subscription-supported. Our business model is not about selling your personally identifiable data to re-targeting companies or pushing ads all over. (It’s what a free service would do at some point, one way or another.)”
Sokullu, like most of the other founders in this space, was inspired to create this after becoming a parent himself. “Babyzilla is a project to which I’m emotionally very connected,” he says. “My daughter Defne came into the world a month ago, and I desperately needed such an app myself. It’s also the right step for our company as we continue to develop more meaningful private social networking applications,” he adds.