Family Zone gateway to opportunity

01/07/2016 - 15:16

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Tim Levy has already built two successful businesses, and has global ambitions for his latest startup.

FAMILY FRIENDLY: Tim Levy is rapidly building the development and support team at Family Zone. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Tim Levy has already built two successful businesses, and has global ambitions for his latest startup.

Tech entrepreneur Tim Levy brings an unusual motivation to his newest venture.

Mr Levy admits he is a man on a mission – to make cyberspace safer for families and children while also believing his plan is good for business.

Mr Levy started working on Family Zone two and a half years ago, and has already raised $4.3 million from investors, with help from Grange Capital Partners and CPS Securities.

He is working with Grange and Alto Capital to finalise his capital raising strategy, which may lead to an ASX listing.

In the meantime, he is busily working towards a consumer launch of Family Zone and evaluating multiple opportunities with support from his fellow directors – Silicon Valley-based John Sims and Sydney-based Crispin Swan.

Mr Levy, who started his working life at Andersen Consulting, brings substantial telco experience to the new venture.

He was recruited in the 1990s to establish the Kerry Stokes-backed B Digital, which achieved rapid growth and listed on the ASX.

Two of his partners in that business, Sean Gentry and Scott Cuomo, later joined with him to establish Mo’s Mobiles, which is a Vodafone mobile phone retailer with more than 60 locations across Australia.

“It’s been running for about 10 years and it’s so stable and well managed that it’s afforded me the time to work on this passion project,” Mr Levy said.

“My background in the telco sector is really significant in why Family Zone has come about, and why we think it can work.”

Mr Levy said filtering internet access was difficult.

“Parents’ frustration is largely about having to cobble together their own solution,” he said.

“That piecemeal approach is beyond most parents.”

Mr Levy said Family Zone was not competing with software such as Net Nanny and Web Watch, which was downloaded to specific devices.

“We have elements of that, but we have an access point that you plug into your home; that’s a far more efficient way for a family to regulate internet access because it’s all done at the gateway,” he said.

The breakthrough moment for Family Zone was recognising what could be done with mobile networks to route data through filters.

Mr Levy’s goals extend well beyond the family home. His technology can be installed in places including schools, apartment buildings, cafes and university colleges.

“The technology is also designed to integrate with the router sets of a mobile network, which can offer it as a value-add service,” Mr Levy said.

“Our focus isn’t about installing software and selling licence fees, it’s about lighting up as many access points as we can, and not in a mandatory way but in a personal way.”

Mr Levy said by focusing on networks rather than devices, parents could gain real control.

“It means a parent, for the first time, in a relatively ubiquitous way, will be able to block Facebook, and that will apply everywhere their children access the internet,” he said.

Mr Levy said families could subscribe for a basic service, with default settings for each age group, but hoped they would choose to partner with experts listed on the company’s web site.

“The concept of the business is that you can partner with a cyber expert who will help you with your family’s digital experience,” he said.

Family Zone last month won the 2016 WA Information Technology and Telecommunications Alliance (WAITTA) Incite award for best startup in Western Australia.

 

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