Rachelle Best: building an app that empowers parents to protect their children from online harm

"Firstly, be brave. In the words of Brené Brown, even if someone else has done it before, it’s never been done by you. Secondly, when you’re an innovator, don’t be scared to talk about your idea. If you’re going to make it happen, no-one else will steal it and talking about it stimulates more thoughts and ideas to help you build out the solution. Thirdly, it’s going to be tough a lot of times. Put your head down and do what you have to do. You will succeed."


Rachelle Best Founder at FYI play it safe (Pty) Ltd


Q1:Tell us about your yourself:

I founded FYI play it safe to create a solution that I and other parents can use to navigate the harsh realities in managing children’s online safety. Being confronted by the dangers associated with social media platforms and the open world of the internet, led me to embark on a research study to get a clear view of the available solutions.


While I found useful parental control and content filtering apps, there was no solution that informed parents about specific incidents and alerted them about language being used in social chats or online searches that could be related to cyberbullying, depression, self-harm, suicide or when children engage in adult content.


The FYI play it safe app was developed and I aim to fill the gap in order to empower parents to in turn, help their tweens and teens. Our innovation and business is based on a strong career foundation as a CA(SA) with a focus on technology and technology-risk. I have a degree in Industrial Psychology and work on large scale business transformation projects.


Q2:What does your company do?:

FYI play it safe is a downloadable app that helps parents protect their children from online harm and potential physical danger. Practically, what FYI play it safe does is it monitors the actual content of children’s communication and online activity and then informs parents of any potentially harmful situations, regardless of the application the child uses.


So while tweens and teenagers are focused on having fun and meeting new friends online, parents need to balance the tension between respecting their children’s online privacy and navigating the risks presented by social media platforms, online gaming and other chat apps.


FYI play it safe benefits parents by alerting them of potentially harmful events, such as cyberbullying, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, if they talk to potential online predators, or when they engage in adult content. In turn, it benefits children by giving them privacy in that their parents don’t have to read through all their messages and go through all their social media content.






Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:

To start with, I’m the mom of a teenage daughter. She’s 15 years old, which means that I understand the challenges of parenting in the digital world too well. She is mainly the reason we started developing FYI play it safe.

When I started thinking about giving her a mobile phone, I did research on any apps that could help with protecting her online, but couldn’t find anything that was quite good enough. I also couldn’t find anything that would tell me what was really going on, and that would warn me if she was exposed to any harmful situations. At the same time, I wanted her to feel that I respect her privacy and that I trust her. Hence, apps that would give me full access to her messages were out of the question.


I realised that other parents may struggle with the same questions, and lack of answers, and embarked on a research study in 2018. My hypothesis was correct in that 99% of parents who participated in the study were worried about the dangers associated with social media platforms and the open world of the internet, but none knew how to deal with it in a way that will provide them with the right level of comfort.


That’s how FYI play it safe was born. I wanted to develop an app that would protect our children online, alert parents when there is something that to worry about, but at the same time respect our children’s privacy.



Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:

FYI play it safe is a downloadable app that helps parents protect their children from online harm and potential physical danger.


Practically, what FYI play it safe does is it monitors the actual content of children’s communication and online activity and then informs parents of any potentially harmful situations, regardless of the application the child uses.


So while tweens and teenagers are focused on having fun and meeting new friends online, parents need to balance the tension between respecting their children’s online privacy and navigating the risks presented by social media platforms, online gaming and other chat apps.


FYI play it safe benefits parents by alerting them of potentially harmful events, such as cyberbullying, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, if they talk to potential online predators, or when they engage in adult content.


In turn, it benefits children by giving them privacy in that their parents don’t have to read through all their messages and go through all their social media content





Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:

Firstly, starting a business from scratch is hard if you’re on your own. I quickly learned that, in order to succeed, you have to collaborate with like-minded individuals. I am very fortunate in that I have found a number of truly inspiring women who I work with in both formal and informal ways.


Secondly, finding adequate funding to grow the business once it is launched into the market is also still difficult. The costs for doing proper PR, marketing and setting up operations can be significant and if you don’t have adequate capital, this may be a showstopper. We are still in the process of finding the right partner, but I’m very fortunate to have had good mentors to guide me along the way.


Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:

When you're in tech, "done is better than perfect". Embrace a mindset of failing quickly, fixing efficiently and making progress every day.






Q7: What are your 3 priorities right now:

Our biggest priorities right now include:

  1. Firstly, to launch FYI play it safe for Apple devices - this will be done by the end of 2022.

  2. Secondly, to include as many other platforms, like Windows laptops, Chrome books, etc into our solution.

  3. Thirdly, educating as many parents as possible about the risks and benefits of being online and how FYI play it safe can help bridge the balance between protecting our children online, while respecting their privacy.

Q8: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:
  • Firstly, to launch FYI play it safe for Apple devices - this will be done by the end of 2022.

  • Secondly, to include as many other platforms, like Windows laptops, Chrome books, etc into our solution.

  • Thirdly, educating as many parents as possible about the risks and benefits of being online and how FYI play it safe can help bridge the balance between protecting our children online, while respecting their privacy.


Q9: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:

Firstly, be brave. In the words of Brené Brown, even if someone else has done it before, it’s never been done by you.


Secondly, when you’re an innovator, don’t be scared to talk about your idea. If you’re going to make it happen, no-one else will steal it and talking about it stimulates more thoughts and ideas to help you build out the solution.


Thirdly, it’s going to be tough a lot of times. Put your head down and do what you have to do. You will succeed.




Pretty Kubyane COO Coronet Blockchain

No matter how modern the world becomes and permissive parenting becomes somewhat normalised, whereby children are allowed more flexibility to make their choices, and venture out into doing what they want. The bug still stops with the parent: it remains their sole responsibility to provide and protect their children across their navigating both the physical world and the Digital world. Expecting social media companies to create a safe environment for their users, especially young users is a fair expectation and an ethical business practice. However, helping parents to have a line of sight into the digital world that their children are exposed to, and tend to spend more time in, is what makes FYI play it safe such a brilliant resource that every parent should have at their finger tips.


As a parent myself, what I admire most is that Rachelle Best is solving a rising problem faced by many parents today, leveraging her own personal lived-experience. Beyond the parental hat she wears, so gracefully, she also brings to this equation a vast level of transferable skills sets, from her successful career as a Chartered Accountant CA(SA). Her in-depth track-record, throughout her career, where she applied a special focus onto technology and technology-risk segments, makes her particularly well positioned to navigate this child protection domain, across the digital landscapes that these future adults are navigating, daily. Add to that already impressive tool-kit: her degree in Industrial Psychology and hands on experience working on large scale business transformation projects, she's a fit for this.


I look forward to seeing Rachelle 's success as she and her team continue to scale their product adoption and deployments across more devices, every child counts.


Shadrack Kubyane CEO Coronet Blockchain

As social media progresses further across mainstream: some cracks emerge that require our urgent attention, across the home front particularly. You may recall tragic two events that took place during 2021: two teenagers lost their lives, during an attempt to participate in a popular social media challenge. Their parents have since filed lawsuits against an established social media giant, following those tragic events. The efforts of those parents however, as at today, continue to encounter an uphill pushback in their plight for justice, as you can imagine, as they continue their efforts to hold the social media company accountable.


Pro-actively speaking: interventions like FYI play it safe have become that much more critical for parents and society at large. indeed these losses, of two teenagers, can never be reconciled, especially for their parents and families involved, however, I am reassured to see the visionary work Rachelle Best is doing to empower parents to proactively protect their children online.


I look forward to seeing more parents gaining increasing awareness and using this incredible tool to protect their young ones. Well done to Rachelle and her team at FYI play it safe.


Amana Alkali: Tech Journalist, Writer, Editor & Public Speaker

The internet has been dubbed a danger zone for kids and the need for an innovative solution that will guide and create a better learning experience for them is ever more evident. The world is increasingly digital and control of information or data is not fully guaranteed.


It is impressive that FYI play it safe has taken parental guidance and control a step

higher with access to everyday devices and proper methods of monitoring the activities of young minds. The wrong influence can disturb the mentality of these future leaders.

‘Tweens and teens’ alike, as Rachelle calls them, are the future and they must be well tutored to advance there without being exposed to vices that corrupt morals.


Rachelle Best and her team have a clear objective – to ‘help bridge the balance between protecting our children online, while respecting their privacy’. Through this innovation, they represent the true spirit of entrepreneurship, catering to the need of a different market that holds the future. Their efforts are generational, commendable and there is hope to see sweeping progress in achieving their goals. The global solution to parental guidance can come from Africa with this in play.


Priscilla Ekundare: Lead Designer - Ceela Creatives

According to UNICEF, Adolescents make up 16% of the total population. Teens and Tweens in the 21st Century do not want to feel monitored while their parents on the other hand need the right strategies to protect them from the harsh realities that come with the Tech Age while giving them some privacy.


The FYI play it safe is no doubt solving a problem that most parents can relate with and Rachelle’s passion is clear as she and the team keeps innovating to make their product more accessible to every parent.


Precious Kalu: Author, Digital Marketing Expert & avid Data Science Student

My first encounter, coming across FYI play it safe was one of both admiration and intrigue, given the era we live in. What Rachelle Best, and her team at FYI play it safe have achieved through assembling this solution is noteworthy. It's such a beautiful idea, given how parents are continually seeking practical defence methods to keep their children safe across online social activities. If left unchecked: such activities may prove detrimental to these children, particularly when it comes to their mental and physical wellbeing. An app that empowers parents with a gentle but firm upper-hand on digital activities their children indulge in, is critical.





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