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Two Menlo Park couples develop iPhone app – Cakewalk – to help parents make the most of playtime

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on April 24, 2014

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What do you get when Menlo Park nextdoor neighbors with young kids are a designer, an editor, a software engineer, and a business guy? An iPhone app for parents and kids, of course!

University Drive neighbors Krista and Dan Skehan and Marijane and Brian Leonard have developed Cakewalk, an iPhone app now available in the App Store.

Their mission is to help parents make the most of playtime. Full of quick ideas for simple fun, the Cakewalk app filters activities by the age of your child, whether you’re inside or out, and whether you want a craft. Or you can swipe through all the activities to see what strikes your fancy, whether it be to fill a few minutes or a whole afternoon.

“There are plenty of apps out there for entertaining children,” says Marijane. “But most of them involve just handing over your device. The goal for Cakewalk is to help parents play with their children because the reality is that this can be hard. Once a parent’s must-do’s (work, meals, baths, laundry, etc.) are covered, sometimes there is very little energy or creativity left for play.

Adds Krista: “We felt there was a void in the app market for a way to quickly source ideas for easy activities that do not require a trip to the store. Our hope is that parents can get a bit of inspiration from the app and then focus on having fun with their children.”

The ideas for the app came to Krista when she was trying to solve the playtime problem in her own life. She and Dan talked about it with the Leonards one afternoon while their kids played together. The group realized that together they had all the skills to make it happen. Soon the four were meeting in the Skehan’s backyard every Wednesday night after the kids were in bed (within earshot of all the little voices, naturally

The Skehans and Leonards have lived next door to each other for two years. Krista (the designer) is the owner and creative director at Menlo Park branding studio Personify. Her husband, Dan (the business guy), is Personify’s account director. Marijane (the editor) is a professional freelance writer and copy editor. Her husband, Brian (the engineer), is the chief architect and technical co-founder of TaskRabbit, a San Francisco-based company that creates an online and mobile marketplace connecting neighbors to get things done.

“I think we clicked as a group because we are parents in the same boat,” says  Marijane. “We work hard, but we also want to play hard with our kids. Our kids are close in age…and we have complementary professional skills. Each of us brought something to the table to make Cakewalk happen.”

Photo by Scott Loftesness

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