Keeping Kids Safe
Chitra Kanagaraj : Founder of PikMyKid
Sponsored by Female Founders Community
I was a corporate director for Cognizant Technologies, a global IT consulting company with over 250,000 employees for over 12 years, during which I held various positions across multiple departments within the company. I did everything from It consulting for clients to digital product rollouts to corporate operations to driving company performance scorecards. At the same time, I was raising my daughter and trying my best to balance my time with my family and my time in the office.
One big drain on time I could otherwise be using in a productive way was the three hours every day I spent waiting at my daughter’s school to pick her up and drop her off. Along with the unaccountability and antiquity of the walkie talkie systems in place to get kids to their parents at the end of the day, I was upset that so much of my day was spent neither working nor spending quality time with my daughter. Either way, I figured there was nothing I could do about it. Wasn’t it a problem everyone had to deal with, anyway?
This started to change when I felt like I had outgrown my bachelor’s degree and got my MBA from USF, allowing me to work with local CEOs and incubator programs that encouraged me to pitch my idea as a startup. My new-found knowledge combined with my corporate experience helped me launch and carry my startup, PikMyKid, from that incubator into the thriving business it has become along with my husband and co-founder, Pat Bhava. We found a niche in the safety of the school dismissal process that no one else seemed determined to solve, and we took the chance to create something new and solve a problem we witnessed almost every day at our daughter’s school.
PikMyKid is the first and only comprehensive student safety platform for school districts, charter/private schools, after-school programs, YMCAs, carpools, and daycare facilities. The program helps school mitigate unnecessary visitors during dismissal time, reduce front office calls and increase instruction time for teachers. Over the last few years, we’ve worked with schools to create a comprehensive platform which acts as a one-stop solution for student safety with silent emergency alerts, anonymous tip line, and social media analysis for risks and threats.
Schools today are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technological resources and software’s available to them, but an incredibly small amount of them figure into school safety and none looked to regulate, automate, and track dismissals that were often chaotic and dangerous for everyone involved.
Our system makes the experience safer and hassle-free for both parents and staff, and we enjoy making life easier for these hardworking people. Every day I come into work knowing that what I’m doing is keeping children like mine feeling safe at school and protecting their futures, and nothing feels better than that.
I hope my story encourages other moms who think there’s no way to make their idea a reality to make life easier and safer for themselves and others. You don’t need more time, more money, or a different educational background to start your own business. Start with an idea that inspires you to wake up and work hard every day and you’ll be surprised how far you can go from there.