On the Launch Pad
By Michael V. Copeland

(Business 2.0) – Startup: Industrious Kid

The idea: Social networking for the grade school set

The Internet has a Pied Piper-like power over kids, but nobody wants elementary schoolers trolling the Web unattended. So after years of worrying about her children's online behavior, Jeanette Symons is launching Industrious Kid to develop safe Web havens for minors. The co-founder of two telecom startups (one, Ascend Communications, sold for $24 billion in 1999), Symons funded the company with $6 million of her own money. Its first online offering, Imbee, debuts in beta form in early April. Targeting 8- to 14-year-olds, Imbee will offer blogs, instant messaging, and space for audio files and photos. By requiring parents to subscribe (using verifiable data) for a monthly fee of about $5, Symons thinks she can filter out users with sinister intent. Settings will let kids publish only to a closed loop of friends and family, while human monitors and e-mail updates will let parents know what their kids are up to. To teens, that might feel overbearing, but for preteens it sure beats Neopets.