When Kate Lanyon’s daughter Mina was three, she was trying to learn the alphabet…. without a huge amount of success.  Kate wasn’t sure what to do apart from reading with her.

But one weekend when Mina was feeling under the weather and they were having a ‘home day’, Kate decided that they’d make an app together, to help Mina read her letters.

“We stayed in all day and worked on making an app.  First, we wrote the letters down on paper and then we did a lot of internet searching for the words. I then set about building it, which took about three months because I had the idea of recording Mina’s voice saying each letter and word,” Kate said.

“It took a while because Mina doesn’t have a very long attention span so we could only record a couple of words at a time! “

“It took a while because Mina doesn’t have a very long attention span so we could only record a couple of words at a time!  Then, after I built the app, I started showing it to people who said, ‘I’d love to do this with my kid too and record their voice saying the letters and words.”

Kate then extended the scope of her app to enable parents to record their own children.  Her app MforMe is now available.  Mina was instrumental in the app’s creation. She helped her mum choose the words and was a big part in decision making. For example, she pointed out that there ‘wasn’t enough pink’ in the illustrations.  

Four year old Mina told SheHacksNews she’s pretty happy with her app.

“Yes, I think it’s cool. It helps me remember the letters when I swipe and makes the learning really fun,” Mina said.

“We were a great team,” Kate said. “Mina would choose her favourite animals and people. We wrote a to-do list and drew up boxes. Mina would tick things off for me as we went along.”

Kate, who appeared at She Hacks in 2014 then returned in 2015 and 2017 as a mentor, wants women to know they should call on their network for help and support.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and try to barter whenever you can. For example, I have a friend who’s an amazing illustrator so we worked out a barter – for the illustrations, I worked on her website.”

“Swap whatever favours you can. Also make sure you know what your strengths are and play to those.”

Kate also believes you need to surround yourself with the people who can do the things that you can’t.

“I could have spent weeks drawing pictures for the app but I knew it was better for me to do the coding because that’s my strength. If you have a business idea and you don’t know how to code, it’s not worth taking two years to code before you get your business off the ground; if business is your thing, focus on the business side.”

“Also, when it comes to MforMe, I’m not necessarily look to make money from it. The idea was something we wanted, so we made it! So if it doesn’t make money it’s no great loss for us. But I hope it will help other parents and kids to kickstart an early and important part of learning.”