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As a child, I hated brushing teeth. As a consequence, I have significant oral health issues, costing me both time and money. To address this common challenge among families, our team developed Tody, a teeth-brushing assistant designed to help children and their frustrating parents.

*This project is associated with my previous startup KidsLoveFun.

Project Duration & Type

4 Months, Personal Side Project

My Contributions

Product Strategy, User Research, Interaction Design, Prototyping


Myself and an Electronic Engineer

A Frustrating Problem

Most parents in the US understand teeth-brushing is important for their kids. However, many children often refuse to do so because teeth brushing is not fun, and they don’t see the benefit. For many families, teeth brushing can quickly turn into a constant battle between parents and kids. This is frustrating!!! 😣

Our Solution Tody

Tody is developed to help 3-6 years old kids foster healthy teeth-brushing habits. It has five core value propositions.

  • Safety: This is our primary focus. Tody is water-proof and build to withstand wear and tear.
  • Easy to use: Tody is designed to be simple for children to use.
  • Fun for kids: Children are willing to interact and learn with Tody.
  • Guidance: By providing proper guidance, Tody serves as a teeth-brushing guide for kids.
  • Engagement: Children can see their progress through collecting rewards.

What are the current solutions in the market?

Currently, most parents address their problem by turning to phone apps (some of which can be synced with smart toothbrushes, like Philips Sonicare, Playbrush, etc.) or using physical timers, such as sand timer, Turtle toothbrush timer, etc.

However, phone apps are relatively cumbersome and inconvenient. Additionally, many parents are reluctant to use smartphones, fearing their kids might get distracted easily. As a result, physical timers are more popular, but they lack the ability to guide and infuse fun into the routine.

Analyzing all these products, I discerned a unique opportunity. I wanted to meld the best of both world, creating a tangible teeth-brushing robot that gamifies the experience for kids.

We learned a lot by going through reviews.

Following our competitive analysis, I delved into the reviews of products and apps from our competitors. Here were some key takeaways.

There were 2 things we still didn't know.

  1. What makes teeth-brushing so challenging for kids?
  2. What can really help families to solve this problem? Are they looking for solutions? What type of solution are they looking for?

So I interviewed 62 people.

Participant Composition

  • 10 Kids
  • 52 Parents


  1. Discover if and how foster dental habits is challenging.
  2. Identify what parents care about when it comes to children's dental health.
  3. Identify method(s) parents have tried to make their kids more interested/excited about brushing teeth.


  • Developing good dental habits is definitely challenging, but the challenges at each age are different.
  • Age 3 to 6 is the critical period for fostering teeth-brushing habits. During this period, children slowly learn how to brush by themselves, instead of relying on their parents.
  • Most parents care greatly about children's dental health. More specifically, parents don't want their kids to get cavities, so they pay attention to how well their kids brushed their teeth.
  • Most parents are open to new tools or resources that can help them.
  • In terms of products that make teeth-brushing less painful, most parents have 4 basic needs: 1) easy to use and setup, 2) fun for kids, 3) activity tracking, 4) focus on the long term.

Value Propositions 1.0

Based on research insights, I decided to design specifically for 3-6 years old kids and crafted the initial product value propositions.

We went through many iterations for our functional prototype.

Demo Video of the Functional Prototype

Limitation of this Functional Prototype

Although my partner was working on activity tracking, I decide to not include tracking in the first iteration due to time and resources constraints. Incorporating tracking would require machine learning and an extra device attached to the toothbrush for motion detection. I wanted to conduct private beta tests ASAP.

Private Beta Test

I launched a private beta test with 4 families. For this test, there were 3 things I wanted to measure.

  1. How intuitive the prototype is?
  2. Do kids enjoy using it?
  3. How long and how often do they use it? From this, we can assess how effective our prototype is.

To measure them, I tracked usage data and surveyed participants. I also conducted follow-up interviews to dig deeper into their experiences.

A Snapshot of the Beta Test Usage Data
A Snapshot of the Usage Data

The results were really positive. The prototype was fairly intuitive; children loved it; all families used our prototype extensively for more than 3 months.

Screenshots of a user's feedback
It's always a pleasure to receive such a message 6 months later.

Frankly, something felt wrong.

We initially believed activity tracking would be essential for this product. However, even without this feature, our prototype was proven to be effective, challenging our original assumption. Therefore, when conducting follow-up interviews, I dug into this problem.

From talking to participants, I realized that activity tracking is a nice-to-have feature. Parents valued the teeth-brushing guidance Tody offered their kids. This positioned our product as a teeth-brushing mentor for children.

"Tracking is nice to have, but not necessary in this (Tody's) case."

Value Propositions 2.0

Based on testing results, we updated our value propositions. Although the decision to omit activity tracking seemed logical, it was still challenging given the time and effort we'd invested in it. My technical co-founder was particularly resistant, but I was ultimately able to convince him of the change's merits.

Updated Prototype (MVP)

Prototype Demo Video

Project Outcome

After rolling out the MVP, we initiated a survey to primarily gauge Tody's desirability among our target audience. We collected responses from around 500 participants, all of whom are parents with at least 1 child aged between 3 and 6. Out of these respondents, 410 people expressed significant interest. Many participants even urged us to “bring it to market quickly”.

Later, we launched our prototype on the website and released the public beta test registration form. Within the first hour, there were over 60 sign-ups with half of them expressing willingness to become paying customers.

Additionally, this project is a selected participant in the Purdue Firestarter Accelerator and achieved Top10 of the Purdue Entrepreneurship Competition.

Looking back...

So many ideas, so little time.

Building a product from scratch comes with constraints and limitations. During our development process, we had many innovative ideas. However, faced with limitations in resources, we often had to setting aside promising features. We needed to concentrate on crafting an MVP that balanced feasibility with an exceptional user experience. Although we recognize the importance of activity tracking, we kept it out of the MVP due to this reason.

Bring a hardware product to market comes with challenges.

Most of the time, launching a software product is fairly simple. Hardware is a different story. To transition Tody from a prototype to a market-ready product, we still need to collaborate with industrial designers, mechanical engineers, industrial engineers, and manufacturers. Additionally, a significant upfront capital investment is required. Therefore, before investing heavily into a hardware product, it's crucial to fully evaluate the idea.

  • Am I solving a real problem?
  • Are people willing to pay to solve this problem? How much are they willing to pay?
  • Is my product able to solve the problem? Why?
  • How is my product better than other solutions?
  • What are the product cost and the customer acquisition cost?
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