Milofy: Using Technology To Create Real Life Relationships

Milofy: Using Technology To Create Real Life Relationships

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As a mom, and as a person who is not entirely into downloading apps (albeit being technologically savvy), I am quite excited when I find a useful app. I mean, I use Snapchat because I have a teenage daughter and because the filters add a unique element of fun to my day; but besides that, a language app, and a couple of photography apps, my list of applications is pretty low. However, I had to make room for Milofy. Why? Because it’s awesome!

Okay, first of all, Milofy is awesome because it addresses a few of the questions, or concerns, I have when wanting to engage with other adults to go out & have fun. For instance, as a business person, I have to meet people. I have made the better friends in the people with whom I was able to interact on a human level, and not necessarily on a ‘business’ level. So, for instance, the couple you meet at an arts’ gala, with whom you end up talking about the South Carolina low country shrimp and grits hors d’oeuvre, or the wine from New Zealand, and with whom you find a common interest in economics, bar-hopping, and… I don’t know…  cooking, may end up being the couple with whom you conduct business, as well as partake in fun activities. Milofy lets you see all of that in a couple before you even meet them! So, my husband and I create a profile, we answer a few questions cleverly created by the Milofy team, and then the app matches us with couples (so that’s already safer than having 1-on-1 meetings with strangers) who are like-minded (taking out the guesswork and the 21 questions we want to ask when meeting new people), and Milofy also matches my husband and I to acti…. you know what? I think you should just read this interview with Arshya Lakshman, a beautiful soul, brilliant person, and creator & CEO of Milofy. We had an extensive conversation in which she answered my questions in detail, and showed her love for humanity and healthy relationships amongst all sorts of people. Please read on to find out just what is Milofy and why you’d want to Milofy, too.

S: So, what is Milofy?                                   

A: Milofy is an app that answers a very simple social problem – making life more REAL – the way it used to be. Have ‘real’ experiences, by connecting couples/families with each other for memorable social experiences, creating healthy balanced lives.M-Couple-IM-Activity Train-v5.png

Even with partners/families and with technology making it convenient to keep in touch, people are still quite lonely and struggle to meet new like-minded people. Very often they have this facade on social platforms – a performance of what they want others to believe their life to be. They say: “this is my life”, you know, “I have these selfies and these stunning pictures”. Gone are the days of making spontaneous plans with ease and finding like-minded people who are free to hang out when you want to.
With Milofy we’re getting people to meet offline, with the help of online technology. We are using technology to bring people together and do so in a safe environment. We help couples connect with other like-minded couples. We match them with an algorithm by asking some interesting questions – it’s a ton of fun but also truly solves the social problems for couples.

Not only do we match couples with each other, we also match them with fun, interesting local activities happening in their cityOne of the cool things about it is that you can choose the same couples to meet with again, or you can choose new other couples to hang out with. 

S: That’s a beautiful concept! So, I am curious about the name. How did the name come up?

A: Hahaha! Milo in Hindi means ‘to meet’. I felt that it had a nice zing to it. Also, it’s an easy name to say.

S: Has Milofy launched already?

A: Yes, actually. We are so excited!

We did a soft launch four months ago and gathered a ton of feedback from couples in New York. People loved the idea and we were getting users organically every day. However, they wanted the app to be even simpler – so we removed some features, made the interface super easy and simple to use. Research suggested that we also give couples a chance to connect on the app first before they meet offline, to help break ground. So the app now has features to chat, send stickers, and engage before meeting offline. We launched Milofy Version 2.0 on the 4th of January. Please do download it from either the Playstore or the Appstore and send us feedback.

Now that we are live in NYC we plan to launch in San Francisco soon! And though there are apps out there for couples, there isn’t an app like Milofy. It’s exciting that we have no competition, and that we are the first ones doing something like this – while we aim to solve a real life problem. M-Profiling-dashbrd-Fulllv5.png

S: Trailblazers! So, my next question is: do you have education, or experiential background in this, in bringing people together, either couples specifically or otherwise, or is this a new venture for you?

A: Completely new. The only thing I have experience in is business, strategy, marketing, and startups.

I did my undergrad in visual communications and a Master in Business from the UK. I worked for startups and large organizations across Northern Europe and Asia Pacific. I started my first startup in London which was an ROI-based marketing firm and then did a short stint with Kalaari Capital (venture capital firm) before I jumped into being an entrepreneur for the second time.
While, I don’t have any background in couples/people or psychology of people; education and work allowed me to live in various cities – in Europe, in the US and finally back home in India. This made me and my partner feel the need to connect with like-minded people – spontaneously. It was difficult to create a social life in a new place and find new couples. Sometimes, even if we had couple friends, things like traffic, availability of time or a mismatch of interests would be an issue. This is how I came up with Milofy – it answered a personal problem for me and hence I set out to create this app. 

 

S: I think it’s important to talk about age because of young women who may want to take on something new. Has you being young, and a woman affected the creation of your app, particularly in India? 

A: Well, I am 33, which is not young (sigh!) when it comes to start-ups, you now see 21-year olds doing so well with their own firms. My first startup was at the age of 27, again – not so young in this industry. I do believe age is just a number and it’s about the energy, drive, and passion that you bring to an idea.

Now as far as me being a woman I should give a disclaimer that I have been very fortunate. I have a very supportive family – which really makes a huge difference, helping me focus on my work. My husband, parents, parents-in-law, grandparent have always said: “do your thing!” and just want me to be happy in whatever work I do.

There have been some rare moments when my parents asked if I was sure I wanted to be an entrepreneur again (because of the amount of time and energy they saw me pour into my previous startup), or when my grandmother asked why I worked so hard and that maybe it is time for me to have a baby (which I believe is a question men do not get asked), but overall, they always have encouraged me to go do my thing.

I think the question of when to have a baby is probably in the back of most women’s minds. As a founder of a start-up, random people have asked me sensitive questions like – oh does it mean you can’t start a family if you start your company? Can I not do both? I remember having a heart to heart conversation with my mentor about these questions. He simply said, “Why is it anyone’s business”. He also said: “Look, who said you can’t do both. My best entrepreneurs have been women entrepreneurs. They are more hardworking, better with their money, and somehow, do everything that a CEO should be doing”.

This really made me feel okay. I realized there are some glass ceilings to break, there will be some sexist questions that get asked. As long as I work hard and believe in what I am doing from my heart – I will be OK.

In terms of executing this idea in India… well, the thing is this: In India, the moment something does well in the US, like Tinder, they might just take it up. (Laughs heartily) They might say: “hey, that’s cool!” So the moment I said Milofy is doing a bit well in the US, now suddenly I am seeing so many installs in India! In India, people may have this thought: “I don’t know, I don’t want to meet someone strange and new”. But then how did Tinder work out here? It’s a huge case study because in India people are more traditional and guarded! There is a cultural shift that’s happening, and I think that’s really going to help me with the introduction of Milofy in the country. Technically, building the app from India has been just awesome – I am so proud of what the team has created here. They are completely at ease taking instructions from a so-called ‘young woman’ entrepreneur. M-CoupleProfilev6.png

S: Have you always had an entrepreneurial mindset (even as a young girl), or when did it begin?

A: Good question. To be honest, I had a dream when I was young. I remember it being very funny, very childish, that when I grow old I’d have built this business empire. Fairly egoistic dream, when I think about it now. I’ll be Arshya Advertising Agency, Arshya Production House, Arshya this, Arshya that. (Laughs). I didn’t pay attention to that dream and forgot about it. When I started working, my goal was to be a senior-most employee at a Fortune 500. I didn’t even know I had the entrepreneurial bug in me, at all, to be honest. I never thought that one day I’d aspire to start a Fortune 500. Now you know my plans for Milofy (giggles)!

When my husband and I moved to the US, I decided to take some time off. However, within three months of my so-called sabbatical, I knew I couldn’t stay so dependent in an absolutely new country. I was used to being drastically independent and this wasn’t working for me. I was conflicted whether to look for a job or dive into starting something on my own. My husband encouraged I should try the latter. This decision just felt right!

I did have the initial hesitation, but within a few days I knew I would combine online-offline marketing (bring more numbers and ROI to marketing), I knew my company’s name, I started attending webinars, and learning how to start a company – it was just so exciting and felt so right!

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S: My last question for you is this: Do you hire both women and men?

A: Milofy is an inclusive company through and through. However, it just so happens that a lot of my team members are women. My head of operations is a lady in NY who has been with Ernst and Young and other large companies, my CTO is a lady who has been the head architect for Unilever and worked for McAfee, Oracle, and Intuit. My social media is run by another organization, which is run by a lady. My current project manager is a lady and so is my iOS developer. Most of my interns are women. Almost all of them are married and have children too! They’re just awesome. They work super hard.

We have a couple of men working on tech and as interns – they are fantastic too, but honestly it’s women all the way at Milofy!

It’s not that I designed for it to be that way, but I have been lucky that I have the most hardworking ladies, and so balanced with their duties towards family and friends.

It’s girl power all the way. We have to take care of each other. We have to help each other. Some people say that women don’t like working with other women. I really believe that’s one thing we should change because women have to support each other. We have to make it easier for each other. I think we should have a more mature attitude focused on empowering each other. It’s not a competition.

I aspire that Milofy can become an organization that empowers women from all walks of life!

 

S: If you could tell young girls anything, as a woman and as the CEO of your own company, what would you say?

A: I would say that you need to really (really) work hard and dream big. And I wouldn’t say be ambitious, I would say be aspirational. You know?

Don’t power your dreams with ego.

Power your dreams with aspiration.

Anybody who wants to be the best they want to be; the universe just works with them to give them what they want. And this whole idea of positive manifestation, positive attitude, I know it sounds really cliché, but it actually works!

I see a lot of interns and I hire a lot of older teens and young grads in their early 20s, and I feel what they really benefit from is by spending a lot more time on serious research and understanding of concepts instead of just shallow things. The new way of reading stuff is so… bullet points, gifs, quick 5-point blogs, etc… People have lost the ability, perhaps, to read long journals.

I truly believe if young girls believe in something, do their research, work super hard, read, keep their eyes and ears open and see what’s going on around them, they can literally do and become anything. And when it comes from a position of love and aspiration, it’s amazing what miracles can actually happen; how mountains can move. It’s beautiful! The world is their oyster.

Be Courageous, Don’t Be Shy! Get the App and Milofy!

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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USA: The Back to School Safety Puppet Show

USA: The Back to School Safety Puppet Show

tara_puppetsWe are nearing the end of summer here in the US, and I just put on my annual back to school safety puppet show for my kids. I started the practice when my eldest was just starting out, but even at ten years old, he enjoys sitting down for my Mom Production.

I came up with the idea years ago, not only to provide my kids with tips for self-care, but also to mollify my control issues.

When my first son was a toddler at home, and then a preschooler, I felt confident that I could shield him from certain dangers. However, once he started Kindergarten in the public school, I realized that there was much of his day that he would need to navigate on his own, even with support from teachers, staff and friends.

There are many lightly supervised zones where things only get noticed upon full escalation. That was hard for me to accept, but it’s life. So the talent show was born to help us both with this process, and it has stuck to this day.

I cover the big topics in an age-appropriate yet crystal clear manner:

Traveling to and from school. My kids take the bus most of the time, but there are special exceptions for playdates or activities. My puppet show covers who they are allowed to leave school grounds with, and what to do if they are unsure. This naturally brings in talking points around school staff versus unknown persons on campus, and our emergency contact list.

Private body parts. We review what they are and the fact that no one can touch, explore, or try to see anyone else’s. Not kids. Not grownups. No one. Accidental bathroom viewing aside, private parts are aptly named because they are private.

Now bathroom humor can be hilarious, but it’s important that the potty jokes are just words and do not actually cross the physical line.

Weapons. Toy weapons are not allowed at school. So guess what? Real weapons aren’t either. No guns or knives or cross bows or spears or anything of the like, whether it’s real or Nerf. If anyone has one with them, talks about having one hidden at the school or about bringing it to school, it needs to be reported.

Food, drugs, and alcohol. The bottom line is that food and drinks cannot be shared at school. This may sound harsh, but there are too many variables that could go wrong. Teacher-approved birthday treats and school bought lunches aside, you need to stick with what you brought. Some kids have allergies. Some kids need to take medicine. Some kids like to experiment with grown up stuff like beer and cigarettes even if it’s bad for them. So to make sure everyone has the right stuff that won’t harm them, don’t take food or anything consumable from other kids, and don’t share your own. We can plan snack parties and picnics together outside of the school day.

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me, when hilarious looking puppets are walking you through it, times flies and giggles abound. But how much of this actually sinks in?  Probably not all of it, but I do know that a few take-aways stick.

Those include tattling versus helping, the things that have a hard line you cannot cross, and when in doubt, talk with the staff in the school office.

Will my kids always make the choices I want them to? Probably not. However, when things do come up, we have a foundation from which to build. I will continue to do the back to school safety puppet show as long as my kids will sit down and watch. I am hoping to make it to college.

How do you prepare your kids for going back to school? Do you or your school address safety topics?

This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit is to the author.

 

 

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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BRAZIL:  The Clown, Ice Cream Cakes and Emotional Trauma – Part II

BRAZIL: The Clown, Ice Cream Cakes and Emotional Trauma – Part II

This is the second post of a two-part series. To read part I of this post, please click here

clown cakeIt was my fourth birthday party. Since we were moving to Brazil soon, it was also a farewell party, and a big one. It was the only big birthday party I have had in my entire life. I remember it was held at some sort of club, there were a lot of people and a hired caterer (something almost unthinkable for my mother!) And then there was the clown. And he wanted to paint my face.

I was completely and irrationally terrified as only a four-year-old can be. While most of the other children were loving it all, I wanted nothing to do with the clown and his face paint (and certainly not on my face!). My party was ruined. In fact, I hid in the kitchen the entire time.

I don’t know exactly who stayed with me in the kitchen, but I don’t think it was either of my parents – at least not all of the time. Of course they were probably running around organizing things and tending to the guests. What really comforted me at that moment was the food, more specifically the dozens of intricately decorated mini-ice cream cakes. I recall later telling someone that the good side of the party was that I had stayed close to the food the entire time.

Although I hadn’t thought of it in a while, this story is not something that had been forgotten or hidden in my mind, as it has been told and retold over the years by my mother. The interesting detail that came up now was that of the ice cream cakes. When I remembered the ice cream cakes I felt like I could eat a ceiling-high pile. I felt like I had been looking for them my entire life. It was such a visceral craving it felt like nothing else could fill up my void except for those ice cream cakes. Right now writing this I want those ice cream cakes so badly it almost hurts.

It is interesting because here in Brazil ice cream cakes are rare – I believe I have only seen them for sale once in the more than 30 years I have lived here. I don’t know why this particular detail only came up so strongly now, nor what has been triggering this strong need for comfort and protection, which originally was a need to be shielded from someone scary (the clown) who wanted to do something I did not want to do (paint my face).

I don’t know if this is related, but it is also funny because I was never a big fan of makeup. Also, once when I was six and went through a brief period of interest for makeup, I got a kit of child makeup and ate several of the flavored lipsticks that came with it!

Perhaps this story will bring about significant change in my relationship with food, perhaps not, but it does bring up several issues related to my relationship with my own children.

For instance, it has reminded me that no matter how I try, it is impossible to protect them from every traumatic incident or foresee the lasting effect of seemingly small events on their lives. On the other hand, it is also a strong reminder not to belittle the things that upset them – what might seem insignificant or minor to me may be a huge deal to them and I must give them the best emotional support we can at all times.

Please share your stories about your relationship with food. Do you interfere in your children’s relationship with food? Do you actively foster a healthy relationship with food in your home?

This is the continuation of an original post to World Moms Blog published by our writer in Brazil and mother of three, EcoZiva. You can read Part I here.

The image in this post is credited to Chris Martin. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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FLORIDA, USA: My Baby’s Apple

FLORIDA, USA: My Baby’s Apple

photo apple“Yes please, yes please, yes pleeeeease!” is what I hear almost every time my toddler sees or hears my phone. If she does not get it, she isn’t too happy. She may move on to playing with something else, but sometimes comes back pointing at where she last saw my phone, and says “yes please!” again. (more…)

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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Washington, USA: The Magic Room

Washington, USA: The Magic Room

TheMagicRoomRSIn my home, we have a room that my sons, ages 4 and 8 years old, refer to as “The Magic Room.” It’s probably not what you are thinking. It’s our formal dining room. Truth be told, we didn’t use the room all that much for eating, as we have a kitchen table steps away from where I prepare meals. Still, we occasionally used this formal eating space. It was a treat to gather there for holidays and any other time that a special meal seemed in order. This all changed when my husband introduced my older son to the game Magic, The Gathering. (more…)

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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MASSACHUSETTS, USA: The Mouse Trap

MASSACHUSETTS, USA: The Mouse Trap

mickeyAs parents determined to raise global citizens, my husband and I were reticent to channel financial resources toward a Disney-vacation rather than taking our children abroad for enrichment. But, there is something that stirs inside both of us when it comes to celebrating the ephemeral days of childhood that made us reconsider.

Here in the US, a visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or Disneyland in Anaheim, California is a childhood hallmark. In fact, I have met parents, who began planning their Disney vacation the moment they found out they were pregnant with their first child.

And even though a Disney family-vacation can cost upwards of several thousand dollars (with hotels, park tickets and flights), it doesn’t necessarily mean that parents will wait until their children are old enough to fully enjoy the experience nor, in some cases, are even old enough to remember it; tots, barely able to toddle, are a common site at Disney theme parks. (more…)

Kyla P'an (USA)

Kyla was born in suburban Philadelphia but tried not to let that stifle her deep desire to see the world. Her travels have included: three months on the European rails, three years studying and working in Japan, and nine months taking the slow road back from Japan to the US when she was done. Kyla took all of her Japanese knowledge and language ability and threw it right out the window when she met her Chinese-American husband in 2000. In addition to her work as Managing Editor of World Moms Bog, Kyla is a freelance writer, copy editor, triathlete and blogger. She and her husband reside outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where they are raising two spunky kids (ages 8 and 5), two frisky cats, a snail, a fish and a snake. You can read more about Kyla’s outlook on the world and motherhood on her personal blog, Growing Muses.

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