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TechCrunch50: Start-Ups Target Kids

Brad Stone
New York Times

September 8, 2008

Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial energy is being served up in highly concentrated form this week, at a San Francisco conference called the TechCrunch50, sponsored by the technology blog TechCrunch. Over the next three days, the bright-eyed founders of some four dozen brand new start-ups will take the stage to describe how they plan to make money from a connective, online future.

We previewed the event and some of the confrontational promotional tactics of its creators last month. And now Bits is here to watch and blog, at least until our allergy to unrestrained, bubbly optimism begins to flare up.

Things started off here at 9:30 a.m. with the singing of the national anthem. Is this a sporting event? Conference organizer Jason Calacanis then explained that over the next three days, 51 companies, out of 1038 applicants, will present on stage for eight minutes each.

First up: four new Internet start-ups targeting kids.

One is a virtual world called ( Another is a portal for tweens called The third is Blah Girls from Ashton Kutcher — more on that later.

The fourth kid start-up is online banking site for kids,, which is the brainchild of Shryk, a vowel-challenged company based in Oklahoma City. It lets young wealth managers who still live with their parents organize their bank accounts and get advice on credit management and budget planning. The site appears easy enough for the piggy-bank set to use.

Wisely, instead of offering the tool right to kids and soliciting advertising, the company plans to sell its software to banks so they can forge lifelong connections with young customers. It will also give the tool away to schools. “We want to help cure the epidemic of financial ignorance in our country,” said Shryk’s Shane Kempton.





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