Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! We were fortunate enough to speak with Niloufar Shafiei, CEO, idea generator, & app developer for Little Whale Inc. Little Whale Inc. is the company behind the Mom’s Choice Award-winning children’s app and accompanying book, Feelu! FeelU is an app that aims to improve children’s emotional and social skills, designed for 3 to 8 years old. Feelu is a fun adventure that can improve children’s mental health. It helps children to explore their feelings and handle them in a healthy manner. Feelu is also accompanied by the book Feelu: Explore Your Feelings, which became Amazon Kindle bestseller in January 2021. The full interview is published below!
MCA: Hi Niloufar, congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! Thank you so much for sitting down with us for this interview, we are so excited to find out more about you and your award-winning app, Feelu! Let’s start off the interview with you telling us about yourself!
Nilou: I was born and grew up in Tehran and moved to Toronto with my family in 2004. I obtained my PhD in Computer Science at York University in 2015 while I was pregnant with my second child. Having two young kids, I’ve decided to go with a more flexible job. So, right after my graduation, I founded Little Whale Inc., a software company focused on designing high-quality apps and books for children. I generate the ideas behind our products and develop the apps. I also really enjoy yoga, biking, and painting.
MCA: A PhD in Computer Science, that is very impressive! With everything that’s been going on in the world with the pandemic, keeping track of mental health is so important, especially for children. Apps such as Feelu are needed now more than ever before. Can you tell us the story behind Feelu and how it came to be?
Nilou: Drawing my inspiration from my children, I am the idea generator behind the app Feelu. I design apps that I’d like my children to use. There are some essential life skills that we should teach our children early on; to recognize their feelings, use their words to say how they feel, and handle difficult feelings such as sadness and anger in a proper manner. Talking about different feelings and encouraging children to be mindful, kind, and grateful helps them to be happier later in life. Feelu also provides three simple steps to react to bullying in a safe manner. Our app Feelu was released to the App Store 2019. It has three main sections: Feelings, Kindness, and Mindfulness. Feelu can improve children’s mental health. I also have the accompanying book Feelu: Explore Your Feelings published in 2020.
MCA: What needs were you trying to fill when you created Feelu?
Nilou: Feelu helps with the social and emotional development of 3 to 8 years old. Feelu teaches essential life skills to young children. It encourages children to express their feelings and handle them in a healthy manner. It helps kids to be kind, grateful and mindful. It also suggests how to react to bullying in a safe way. Feelu improves children’s mental health.
MCA: Tell us about the research that went behind Feelu‘s unique features, and describe these features!
Nilou: Our apps’ design is simple and light to optimize learning and minimizes distractions. Through continuous research, we have come to understand that children will benefit more from simple animations without sudden screen changes. I believe the ideas behind our apps and their designs make them unique among the millions of apps on the App Store. We have carefully picked each feature of Feelu to ensure it is a complete tool for social and emotional development and children’s mental health improvement.
MCA: Can you elaborate a bit more on why it was important to you and your company to address the issues surrounding children’s mental health?
Nilou: I believe my children are the best teachers I’ve ever had. They taught me how to explore my feelings every day. Through the ups and downs of motherhood, I have learned that exploring feelings is essential to happiness. We can do a lot in the early years to help our children to be happy, content, and confident later in life. Success does not matter if our children cannot be happy and enjoy their lives. Talking about different feelings and encouraging children to be mindful, kind, and grateful helps them to be mentally healthier.
MCA: Talking out different feelings with each other is sometimes the best therapy a person can have. What is your company’s ultimate goal? What inspires you when creating your products?
Nilou: We’d like to make Feelu an international brand, that includes different apps, books, journals, and more. We’d like to make Feelu more accessible to children, including the ones with special needs. So, we can help to improve more children’s emotional and social development and mental health all around the world. This is our ultimate goal.
MCA: What kind of feedback have you received about Feelu?
Nilou: Since releasing of Feelu, we have received many heartwarming, encouraging feedback from parents, teachers, and professionals. Many told us how Feelu has helped their children. We also received some suggestions to improve our app and add new features to Feelu. We truly appreciate any kind of feedback and reviews. We believe they are all constructive. They show us we are on the right path and helps us to improve Feelu constantly.
MCA: Thank you for a wonderful interview, Niloufar! Be sure to keep us posted on what’s next for Little Whale Inc.!
You can learn more about Niloufar Shafiei and her award-winning product, Feelu by visiting her MCA Shop pages.