How a Naperville father-son team are making it easier to exchange toys
Fed up with the piles of toys cluttering the basement of his Naperville home, Shabbir Shams handed two garbage bags to each of his two sons.
The first was loaded with items they didn't mind tossing or giving away. The second was filled with more valuable objects -- the toys and games the boys no longer used but believed could be worth selling or exchanging.
After reaching out to friends and experimenting with "toy trading" parties, Shams realized overcrowded toy rooms were commonplace in many homes. So he and his 11-year-old son, Burhanuddin, decided to create an app that would make it easier to clear out the clutter.
When it goes live in a few months, QuikToy will serve as a platform for buying, selling and bartering toys with other kids in their community using in-app tokens, Shams said. The concept allows children to discover "new" toys -- including books, video games, sports equipment and other items -- while also teaching them about money management and value spending.
"Kids have an uncanny sense of worth, especially in toys," Shams said. "Every house that has kids has toys, and I know this is an opportunity for kids to make some money, learn about commerce, recycle their toys, meet new friends, and so on."
To sell a toy, QuikToy users will be able to take a photograph and download it to the app with a description and suggested price, he said. Other users can then see that post in a list of available toys in the area.
QuikToy will suggest public places based on geolocation where families can exchange toys, he said, noting users can set their preferred radius.
The app requires parental oversight through their own phones, where they manage the virtual money and are notified of any transaction or communication that takes place. Everyone using the platform will be authenticated.
In addition to being economically sensible, the app also encourages users to be sustainable, said Burhanuddin, a fifth-grader at River Woods Elementary School.
"Sometimes we just chuck toys in the garbage and it ends up going to a landfill and harming the environment," he said. "Instead ... you can exchange that toy for another."
The father-son team has secured a development partner and is working to finalize the app's functionality before it launches, Shams said. They now are seeking feedback and holding community meetups to ensure no stone is left unturned.
At a June 9 event, Naperville families can bring up to 10 items to exchange with other kids. The meeting, aimed at testing the concept, will be open to the public from noon to 3 p.m. at River Woods, 2607 River Woods Drive.
Developing the startup has been a unique experience for Shams and Burhanuddin, both of whom have an interest in coding. Being able to talk to an 11-year-old about programming, design and business growth has been "amazingly refreshing," Shams said, and the process has been equally enlightening for Burhanuddin.
"At this age, I can't make an app by myself," Burhanuddin said. "I'm going to need an adult, and right now, the best adult is my dad because he's taught me everything I know."
QuikToy is expected to launch in Naperville and Toronto, where the Shams family vacations in the summer, before eventually expanding to other communities, Shams said. The founders are working to form partnerships and secure additional funding to help make that possible.
"When you're building something that you truly feel is a need for yourself," he said, "you build something really worthwhile that not only helps you, but also a lot of people around you."