Assigning and managing family tasks and chores through a whiteboard or sticky notes on the fridge can be chaotic, and it’s not always possible to get every member of the family to install a calendar app and keep it updated consistently. So, Hearth Display wants to solve this task management problem by putting a giant 27-inch touch screen display in your home.
The company, founded by Mei Lin Ng, Susie Harrison, and Nathalie Stratton, spent the last two years developing this device and its software, so even the members of the family who don’t have a personal device can look at the family calendar and add tasks. During that process, they surveyed 3,000 families and found that 70% of them still use an analog solution like the whiteboard. The founders said that they come from a household with working moms, and it was hectic for the moms to manage everything. So they aimed to develop a task management system to make parents’ lives easier.
“With whiteboards and even other family apps, parents – most often, moms – carry the weight of managing and maintaining the organizational system. Kids, and sometimes many partners, don’t contribute. In order to actually lighten the mental load, we need to democratize the planning process across the family unit,” founders told TechCrunch in an interview.
To aid the device and software development Hearth Display raised its first institutional seed round of $2.8M from Female Founders Fund, Stellation VC, Precursor Ventures, Reshma Saujani of Marshall Plan for Moms, and Jenny Fleiss, a venture partner at Venture Partner — bringing the company’s total funding to just over $3M overall.
The firm says that Hearth Display is easy to set up, and family members can sync their existing Google Calander — with iCal and Outlook support coming soon — through the company’s web app. The site also serves as a hub to manage profiles and define parental controls. Members who don’t have a device can directly use the display’s touch input to enter tasks.
Instead of building a separate app for chore and task management, the company has built a Hearth Helper assistant accessible via email or SMS. You can send text messages or photos of schedules — like your kid’s weekly school program — to update the calendar. The 27-inch 1080p display runs Android on the back-end and comes in light wood, matte black, and matte white frame options.
The family tech firm has been testing the device with 100 beta testers for the last two months. And now, it is putting this display for pre-order at $499 from July 12, which will come with a free subscription to the company’s software for two years. Hearth Display will be available for general sale in the summer of next year at a price of $699 and a software subscription of $9 per month.
“The software subscription will give you access to features like to-dos and kids’ routines and our upcoming features such as AI-based voice assistant. But if you don’t buy a subscription, you can still use Hearth Display as a digital calendar management solution,” the founders said.
The display allows families to easily check off tasks that have been completed, so you don’t overfeed the dog by mistake. It also reminds you to prepare for an event through its Routines features like reminding kids to pack their studs for soccer practice.
The company said it’s currently working to include more features in the subscription bundles like meal planning and managing related grocery lists. Plus, the team is also working on creating event conflict alerts so parents can plan their day better in case both of them have prior commitments at the same time.
“The Hearth Display is like putting an operating system for task management in the middle of the home to create more accountability. A lot of households have fights over chores and this solution is a great execution to bring that culture shift of sharing the workload in the home,” Saujani said.
Hearth Display has a few competitors in the family tasks management space like Cozi and Maple. While they don’t have any hardware, and can’t cater to family members who don’t have access to a device, they are cost-effective solutions than buying a device. Another solution is raspberry-pi-based DAKboard, but its $495 display doesn’t provide you any touch-screen interface to input tasks.
However, co-founder Ng is confident about the company’s solution as its survey showed that apps are not an effective solution for all families.
“Family apps require that all participating family members have their own personal devices and end up excluding kids from their systems by nature or mobile-only,” she said. “On average, apps exclude ~50% of the family because most kids under the age of 9 don’t necessarily have a personal device or even their own digital calendar, so they can’t participate in the system let alone enter
their own information. Free apps like Cozi or Maple primarily use advertising or affiliate sales as their business model, which means the family’s eyeballs and data become part of their revenue streams. At Hearth, it’s important to us that our customer’s data remains their own because we believe that when you don’t pay for the product, you are the product.”