During the pandemic, Mark Svartz bought his 5-year-old son Jackson a magic kit for his birthday. For weeks Jackson took the time to master every trick in the book. Then one afternoon, his cousin came over for a playdate and Mark watched in amazement as Jackson transformed into David Blaine, proudly and patiently demonstrating how the tricks worked. He was so enthusiastic about it that his cousin immediately begged his parents to buy him the same magic kit. For Mark, it was amazing to see how one kid’s passion could inspire another’s. And it made him think, “What if we created a platform where all kids could use their creativity and ambition to inspire other kids?”
And that’s how Ruckus was born!
We talked to the Stamford dad of two (5-year-old Jackson and 1-year-old Dylan) about Ruckus, an online platform that pairs kids with STEAM-based toys that match their interests, allowing them not only to play with these toys, but also to open their own online shops so that other kids with similar interests can share in the same fun!
Tell us about the platform.
Ruckus pairs entrepreneurial kids with S.T.E.M.-based toys and books that match whatever they’re passionate about, from art to robotics to mermaids. They work with their moms and dads to create a fun video showcasing the toy they selected, and we build them their very own Ruckus shop to sell their toy to other kids who have similar interests. Once parents proudly share their child’s awesome shop on social media, kids earn 20% from every sale, which they split with the charity of their choice. That way, in addition to learning fiscal responsibility, they learn the values of social responsibility as well.
How can children and families get involved?
It’s pretty simple. You can always shop from any of the kids’ Ruckus shops to support them and their charities. But the most fun part is creating your own Ruckus shop! All you have to do is fill out our Create a Shop form to let us know what your kid’s interests are and we’ll pair them up with some awesome toy suggestions to build their shop around. They get their toy for free so they can feature it in their promo video, and then once the shop is live, they get to share it with the world to start earning for themselves and their chosen charity.
What are some of the coolest products you’ve seen on the site?
That’s a toughie. Our Ruckus toy experts are pretty selective when it comes to what they suggest. But my top 3 would be the Stikbot Zanimation Studio from Declan’s Action Shop, which lets you create your own stop-motion animation videos, the Doodlematic Mobile Game Maker from Ellery’s Design Shop, which let’s you draw your own fully-playable video games, and the Water Rocket from Sawyer’s Intergalactic Space Shop, because who doesn’t love shooting rockets into space?
How is this platform giving back?
In addition to inspiring creativity and entrepreneurship, one of the core values of Ruckus is to teach kids the value of giving back to the community. So when each kid creates a shop, they get to pick the charity of their choice to share their earnings with. Thanks to them, we’ve already been able to donate money to dozens of meaningful charities from St. Jude’s to the Wounded Warrior Project to local animal shelters who could truly use the additional support.
What is the lesson you hope Ruckus teaches children?
As parents, our #1 job is to encourage our kids to reach their true potential. And Ruckus was built with that in mind. By creating a platform where kids can use their creativity to show other kids what they’re into, all while earning actual profits for themselves and their charities, we’re hoping it helps inspire and empower children to see that amazing things can happen when we pursue what we’re passionate about.
Mark and his family moved from Brooklyn to Stamford last June, during the height of the pandemic and calls the move a blessing for his family. He says, “Honestly, Stamford is a hidden gem that I never really knew about. We’re a few minutes from the beach. We’re a few minutes from magical nature reserves. We’re just an hour from whatever’s happening in NYC, but we still get to enjoy the space and warmth and welcome atmosphere of Connecticut. It’s a perfect place for a young family like ours.”