Start up of the week: MiDough on how to control children's online spending
THERE are plenty of issues parents of teenagers face these days that a generation ago were unheard of.
Do you let your child have a smartphone? Do you let them have a phone at all? How do you get them off their computers or tablets they seem to be buried in 24/7?
Struggling to manage their son or daughter's pocket money is not a new thing, but dealing with a child who wants to buy online is.
Most parents face a choice these days. Short of banning online purchases outright – which is virtually impossible anyway – they either allow their kid to have their own debit or credit card (and have no idea what they may be using it for), or the mother and father can endure being pestered constantly for their credit card number.
This is the market MiDough is hoping to tap into. Set up two years ago by Brian Silke, it was born, to some degree at least, out of necessity.
"Three of our four sons are teenagers so we were facing that issue of how to manage their online shopping.
"MiDough is a personalised money management service aimed at teenagers giving them a virtual prepaid Mastercard.
"It can be topped up by parents or relatives and friends but it gives parents a degree of control and piece of mind about what their kids are buying online," he says.
The service is primarily free to use but is limited to partner retailers (listed on MiDough.com) for now. That is likely to expand however as customer numbers increase.
The company employs five people at the moment but that number will likely grow. While the company was set up in 2012, the money transfer service will be formally launched in Dublin this morning.
"When we came up with the idea it became clear that were needed to do a lot of systems development.
"We built a technical team and after two years of intense planning and development we are now ready to launch," he adds.
Mr Silke and his wife have financed the business so far although they also have one equity investor.
While MiDough sounds like the sort of ambitious company Enterprise Ireland would be investing in, that is yet to happen. The state agency has however provided a research and development grant.
While the idea is undoubtedly of value, the Irish market is a small one for a product like this. It's no surprise then that Mr Silke has ambitions overseas.
"We want to prove the concept in Ireland and if that is successful then we'll look at the UK market. That is the plan for now but we'll see."