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: China’s One-Child Policy, America’s “Anchor Baby” Controversy

USA: China’s One-Child Policy, America’s “Anchor Baby” Controversy

To-Wen One Child Policy 600

In response to China’s latest announcement on their one-child policy and the incident of a Taiwanese woman giving birth on a China Airlines flight to the U.S., Taiwan’s National Education Radio recently invited me to talk about America’s “anchor baby” controversy on their morning talk show.

An “anchor baby” is a child that born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship. The term is especially offensive when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.

Offensive or not, anchor babies do exist. According to the Department of State, noncitizen mothers gave birth to 35,000 babies in the U.S. last year, and 30,000 of them were born to Chinese women who traveled to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth (Chinese language link).

And this, of course, has a lot to do with China’s one-child policy. For several decades, the only way for a Chinese couple to have a second child, is to give birth outside of China in a country which has birthright citizenship.

Taiwanese, though not under the one-child policy, like to have their babies born in the U.S. for a “potentially better future” for the children. It is reported that last year about 300 Taiwanese woman traveled to the U.S. just to have their babies born here.

Now, a recently announced rule allowing couples to have two children will be officially adopted on the first day of next year in China, and some Chinese couples have canceled their plan of giving birth in the U.S.

For example, a girlfriend of mine from Nanjing is pregnant with her second child, due next May. She was planning to come to the U.S. to give birth here, but she changed her birth plan after the China’s National Health and Family-Planning Association made the announcement that it was ending the one-child policy, which was instituted in the late 1970s.

She told me that many mothers from her QQ (Chinese Facebook) group “Giving Birth in America” also changed their mind about giving birth in the U.S., since the announcement.

This is good news. In fact, it is very risky for these Chinese women to travel to the U.S. and give birth here. The high demand of giving birth to an American baby among Chinese mothers has led to the illegal operation of “maternity tourism” in California, New York, and other areas where Chinese-Americans have settled.

The maternity tourism service providers arrange for the Chinese mothers to enter the U.S. on tourist visas and hide them in apartment homes, or so called “maternity centers,” while waiting to give birth. This practice is often associated with visa fraud, conspiracy, and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism.

I followed the maternity tourism story for years as a journalist. The stories that occur in the “maternity centers” can be scary. Some of the “maternity centers” are very popular, so popular that the service providers want all the mothers to give birth and leave as soon as possible. This is so they can arrange more maternity trips for more mothers. The centers often give drugs that induce labor to the mothers, and the drugs can be harmful to the babies. Earlier this year when the Federal government raided maternity tourism in California, hundreds of mothers with little big bumps or tiny babies were throw into the street. It was horrible.

Many mothers knowingly came to the U.S. in full awareness of the risks. It’s hard to understand why they would be willing to risk their health and the the babies’ well-being. Let’s wish the trend will slowly die down with the end of China’s one-child policy.

A report I did on maternity tourism back in 2012, way before the main-stream media noticed the trend. (Chinese with English subtitles):

This is an original post to World Mom Blog by World Mom, To-wen Tseng of California, USA .

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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FRANCE: Education Is Prevention…

FRANCE: Education Is Prevention…

stop violence…and prevention is protection.

Now-a-days, we hear a lot about violence. Violence at home, bullying at school, harassment at work or on the street. Violence is everywhere. It does not define our societies or who we are but it plays an important role in our evolution and how we decide to define ourselves.

In the past couple of years, the French government put into place important measures to fight all types of violence, creating adds to show its impact on peoples lives, opening more helplines, dedicated centres to welcome the victims, creating new jobs and training programs. Many well-known artists took it over and started campaigns around the country and in the world.

Still, I think something is missing in order, if not to eradicate violence completely, at least to change the vision of men and women on the subject and prevent violence from spreading even more. Before discussing the impact of violence, people first have to be educated on what violence is, how to spot it and how to protect themselves from it.

We tend to think that violence is only physical. Is it something we learn as kids? Or are the other forms of violence too cruel to be true?

I met women who kept telling me that in their case, it was not violence. I met kids who kept telling me that other kids were just laughing at them, no big deal. I met men who kept telling me that if their bosses were that mean towards them, it was maybe because they were not that good.

If people don’t know or understand that the relationship they are in is poison, they won’t be able to get out of it or ask for help. And it will keep destroying them. Ads or campaigns won’t have any impact on their life. They will still think violence is horrible but they will think it has nothing to do with them.

I suppose we have to educate people from a young age. Maybe school is the first place to start, as violence can take root there for many. Teaching kids about respect and differences. Teaching them about what is not allowed, about their body and about the importance of equality. Boys are not better than girls and girls are not better than boys.

But first, we have to teach kids about confidence. In most cases, it’s the lack of confidence that takes people down. Teaching kids that they are important, that they are valued and loved, that they are worth it, beautiful, enough. I think this is crucial and it can change many things in our world these days.

I don’t say that confident people can’t be touched by violence, but they’ll have the resources, the power to face it and say stop to it. Or they’ll know something is wrong in the equation and they’ll be able to talk about it, to raise their voice.

Because, at the end of the day, silence is really the enemy, silence is what allows violence to thrive.

This is an original post from our contributor in France, Marie Kleber.

The image used in this post is attributed to Cyber Magic. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Marie Kléber

After 6 years in Ireland, a failed marriage, I started over again, back to France with my baby boy. I love to say that I am a work in progress. Life is a process and I am slowly reconnecting with who I am, learning to love and take care of myself, rewriting my dreams and making new projects, adjusting to single motherhood, trying to find my balance, and enjoying the little things. I am a life lover and I believe in the goodness of humanity, in peace, empathy, tolerance, gratitude. I try to teach my little one about these values as well as helping him connect with others without being too judgmental. “Sharing is caring” is our motto! I started a blog to connect with women engaged in a bicultural marriage. I was at a crossroad in my life and I needed some guidance. I met wonderful people and some ladies became very good friends. I felt part of a community and everybody was there when I decided to leave my abusive marriage and my country of adoption. My blog evolved with me. I do now share poetry, posts about my life and about domestic violence.

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USA: The Life Story Behind My Latest Children’s Book

USA: The Life Story Behind My Latest Children’s Book

My 4th book (and 2nd children’s book) was out in the public in paperback this August. Now I finally have some time to sit down and write a few words about this brain child of mine. (more…)

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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PHILIPPINES: 3 Ways to Be a More Intentional Mom

PHILIPPINES: 3 Ways to Be a More Intentional Mom

more intentional momI have a (rather embarrassing) confession to make: Lately, I have been guilty of being that mom who seems “addicted” to social media (gasp!).

You know, the one who finds herself reaching for her phone when she wakes up in the middle of the night, and immediately checks her Facebook feed. (*Sigh*)

The one who won’t look up from her phone when her child is talking to her, excited to share her latest creation, because she’s too busy reading what her “friends” have shared online.

The one who seems distracted during playtime and read-aloud time, because she is thinking of what she should post next on social media.

Yup. That mom.

Although I don’t consider myself as “badly addicted” as others might be (cough, cough), reading this CNN article about how you can check if you’re addicted to Facebook made me rethink how I have been spending my time online. I am ashamed to admit it but I sadly found myself checking off most of the items on the list! 🙁

Because of this, I’ve decided to declare to the world (fittingly, through this post, because, well, this blog represents people from all over the world, yes?) that I am going to do my best to be a more intentional mom…specifically when it comes to my use of Facebook.

Here are three things that I plan to do:

1. More Facetime, less Facebook.

I will have more “facetime” with my kids — more looking in their eyes when they speak to me, more kisses on their cheeks, more playtime and reading time. Basically, more “face-to-face” communication. 🙂

2. Limit access to my phone.

This may be a bit challenging to do, since I also use my phone for work, but I think I really need to do it. I plan to place my phone in a bag or closet during the times when I should be focused on the kids, like during mealtime, “learning time” or playtime. I will resist the urge to check my Facebook notifications, because they usually are not about anything urgent anyway.

3. Be more intentional with Facebook posts.

These tips on how to defeat a Facebook addiction reminded me again that, like many other things, Facebook is not necessarily an “evil” — it’s how we use it that leads to problems. So I think I’ll revisit my “One Word” for this year, and use Facebook less for “socializing” and more for inspiring and helping others.

For starters, I think I’ll focus more on sharing encouraging and inspirational posts on my Facebook page, rather than checking my personal Facebook feed all the time.

So this is what I plan to do. I hope that these action steps will truly help me to be a more intentional mom! (If you can relate to this post, I hope you found it useful — here’s to being more intentional with our kids!)

Do you have more tips for beating a Facebook addiction and being a more intentional mother to your children? Please share them in the comments!

 

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez (Philippines)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physical therapist by education and currently the managing editor of Mustard, a Catholic children's magazine published by Shepherd's Voice Publications in the Philippines, by profession. She has been writing passionately since her primary school years in Brunei, and contributes regularly to several Philippine and foreign-based online and print publications. She also does sideline editing and scriptwriting jobs, when she has the time. Find out more about Tina through her personal blogs: Truly Rich Mom and Teacher Mama Tina.

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WORLD INTERVIEW: Kiki King, Reporter for Unreported World

WORLD INTERVIEW: Kiki King, Reporter for Unreported World

KikiKing

When I was about 5 years old, I had a best friend. One of those you never forget. We did everything together but one of the things we liked best was to travel to outer space courtesy of my best friend’s older sister, Kiki. By bedecking her room in blankets and scarves and with the assistance of a swirly office chair, Kiki would take us past comets…to planets untouched by girl-kind.

Many years and many lost and remade connections later, I was thrilled to visit with Kiki last summer at her home near Palma de Mallorca of the Balearic Islands in Spain; not far from where my own parents live.

It turns out that Kiki is still taking people on exciting and unlikely journeys….only now she does so with a camera crew in tow. As a journalist and correspondent for the UK’s Unreported World, she takes people from Northern Uganda and the side of a 15 year old deaf boy with no means to communicate, to the front lines of the Kurdish resistance in the battle with Isis and the families caught in the cross hairs.

Since my last visit with Kiki was on a perfect summer day with our sons in the pool, I had to ask her what drew her to leave idyllic Mallorca to pursue these stories. (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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