How This Startup Is Helping 300 Million Kids Stay Safe On The Internet

I scour the globe for stories worth reading about ventures that are a true force for good for humanity and our planet.  

That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce Will Anstee, CEO of TotallyAwesome.

TotallyAwesome’s mission is to clear away online risks and build reliable paths that allow young kids and teens to safely explore their curiosities. currently serves 300 million monthly active users across APAC, and provides 2584 thousand verified kid-safe websites, videos, games and apps.

 Let’s dive into the deep end.

Diana Tsai: What’s the problem you’re solving?

Will Anstee: 170,000 kids come online for the first time each day globally.  But the internet wasn’t built for kids 25-30 years ago, yet 40% of daily online traffic is kids.

Our kids have to be online. The internet is an amazing source of inspiration, education, entertainment, socialization – and we know how important this is with what we’ve seen these past two years in on and off lock-down’s.

But the internet also has a dark side – cyber bullying, predators, stealing identification, the list goes on. From our recent research across Asia-Pacific, nearly 50% of all parents polled in say they are most worried about Cyber-bullying. It’s real, and we need to stop it.

Tsai: How are you solving it?

Anstee: TotallyAwesome is a media and content business, purpose-built, that has one foot in media and engagement and the other in cyber safety. From a media perspective, we ensure brands engage kids and teens responsibly – GDPR-K and COPPA Compliant. It’s like a child safety insurance policy for brands. 

But more importantly, we council brands on how to move beyond an advertising play to one of utility and meaning. For instance, we create brand-funded games that help a child’s confidence, help their socialization, help educate a child in a fun way through STEM based modules, etc. We help brands show up in a teen’s world of firsts.  A world of first boyfriends, girlfriends, pimples, risks, first car, first credit card, first student loans.  And if brands don’t show up to enable kids to step into their power, they’ll lose them forever.  So we have a deep reserves of data, research and insights on this precious group. We have a pediatric psychologist on staff to council on behavioral milestones.

Tsai: How do you measure impact, and what is the impact you’ve made to date?

Anstee: We currently serve 300 million monthly active users across APAC, and provides 2584 thousand verified kid-safe websites, videos, games and apps.

I see this as just scratching the surface. How I think about impact?

Firstly, bottom up. It’s about mentoring brand leaders that engage both kids and teens in their marketing campaigns. What marketers knew as recently as 2 years ago, has mostly changed given the general lock-down situation globally. Kids and teens are expecting a different value exchange – from social responsibility, to edutainment-style platforms through to virtual concerts, meaning the advertising model as we know it is being rewritten. This is exciting to see brands turning up with meaning and purpose. To do this, we need to arm these future visionary brand leaders with insights, research and data to evolve their thinking in supporting a community’s health.

Secondly, bottom down. It’s about taking the high ground in digital privacy. Did you know that the global adtech industry holds 72 million data points on the average child by the time they reach the age of 13? Try wrapping your head around this. To this end, I have been invited onto SGTech’s Digital Trust Committee which drives initiatives on digital trust, including establishing internationally recognized standards, and enable companies to provide products and services, using data that is compliant with data regulations.

And finally, from a talent perspective. I am attracting best in class people to the business that I would never have been able to access in another company because of our purpose. And this enables me to greatly punch above our weight, and that is rewarding. 

Tsai: What motivated you personally to start this company/organization?

Anstee: Firstly, I’m a Dad and I care about our kids and their future. Secondly, I’ve been working in the media and creative industry all my life and I know we are an industry with a moral dilemma around data privacy. And finally, I’ve seen it all in my career. Most global led businesses are challenged because they are profit first, led by management in either London or New York, that have little understanding or appreciation for local market cultural nuances, and therefore put their people last. And it just doesn’t work.

So when I left my previous employer, it had to be for a business with a purpose, where putting its people first had to be in its DNA. And what was also interesting, which I wasn’t expecting, when I stepped into my purpose, I stepped into my power. And you know what Diana, this unlocks the universe at large.

This now gives me the confidence to be more of an anti-CEO – as opposed to a CEO. A business leader that puts people first, and profits follow. We are a heart led business first and foremost.

Tsai: What is a hard-earned growth-hack you’ve picked up building this venture that you can share with other founders of good ventures?

Anstee: Follow your heart and wrap around you the most gifted and talented people you can possibly afford.  Be true to your values. Have 100% clarity on your purpose, and never deviate. And finally, meditate. Meditate every day, as the sun rises, for as long as you possible can, even if only for 5 minutes. Its 5 minutes that will set you up for success every day

Tsai: A little vulnerability – how do you take care of you so that you can show up as the best version of you to serve others?

Anstee: Meditate daily, have gratitude and be mindful. I try to live in the moment. This is where I find my power. I also inherently believe my life is to serve the greater good.  And this gives me Peace.

Tsai: How can readers get involved / support / help?

Anstee: Follow on LinkedIn and we’ll let you know.  Additionally, we’re about to launch ‘The Kollective’, which is an open source platform for teachers, globally, to develop critical thinking modules and monetise. If you believe you can support us in any way, I’d love to hear from you – from blockchain developers to renowned Universities!

Tsai: How can you help readers that are building ventures for good?

Anstee: Dream big, and tell the world exactly what you want. And know it. Be unapologetic. The heart/mind continuum is incredibly powerful and you can literally manifest anything

Tsai: What are personal values you live by?

Anstee: My 3 core values are a passion to fight for what is right, integrity often at my own personal cost (according to my wife), and the agility to move ‘the right’ things along quickly.