An app for allowance, invented in Mpls

The Lacek family, creators of the FamDoo app Credit: Submitted image

They call it “the modern allowance.” In collaboration with their kids, East Harriet couple Mark and Susan Lacek have developed an online tool called FamDoo that automates to-do lists. Kids earn points for jobs like walking the dog, finishing math flashcards or even watching an online video on bullying. In exchange, parents award gift cards redeemable at places like Amazon or Target.

“We can talk about a job well done, instead of nagging them to get the job done,” said Mark.

Mark said the initial spark for the idea came when he realized his daughters were spending more time on electronic devices. If Mom and Dad could help direct their online activity in exchange for points, would they do it?

“They both said, ‘Daddy, I would do that every night,'” said Mark.

Mark and Susan are no stranger to entrepreneurship. They founded Faith’s Lodge together, a retreat for grieving parents in Wisconsin. Mark offices out of the Rainbow building at Lake & Hennepin, and FamDoo is his seventh startup. He co-founded the marketing firm Denali (later acquired by Olson), and the auction-focused tech firm BidPal (now based in Indianapolis). He helped create Northwest Airline’s frequent flyer program in the late 80s, and he’s consulted on loyalty programs for companies like Hyatt Hotels and Swissair.

“Rewards work. Rewarding positive behavior works, and recognition works,” Mark said. “If you have the right carrot out there, people will respond.”

Aside from cashing in points for gift cards, FamDoo also allows kids to allocate their winnings toward charities or savings. The app and website use is free. One-hundred points are worth $1, and cost $1.20 for parents to purchase. The Lacek’s daughter Emmy, age 12, is saving up her points for an iPhone.

Susan said the tool is helpful in teaching money management to kids.

“Kids don’t see us touch money a lot. Everything is happening online,” she said. “Now they can put it somewhere and spend it or save it for college. My kids are going to be so much more prepared for the real world.”

FamDoo is partnering with U.S. Bank, allowing the bank’s credit card holders to transfer their “FlexPoints” into the FamDoo account.

Minneapolis is a testing ground for the product — more than 100 families participated in the pilot — but the Laceks think FamDoo has the potential to go national. In the test group, kids completed more than 85 percent of the jobs on their lists.

“This is one of the only apps that parents and kids can do together,” Susan said.

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