Before Kenny Ball started a subscription box to bring families together for screen-free time, he was a public school teacher for 14 years. He taught mostly third and fifth grade, but spent a few years in sixth and eighth grade, so his experience spanned many age ranges. As a young teacher, he was ready to help lead the technology revolution in education, but he has never been one to shy away from changing his viewpoints.
Smartphones were coming onto the scene when Ball was becoming a new parent: In fact, he was playing a smartphone game in the hospital while waiting for his daughter to be born. Many years later, as a parent, he decided to help his family unplug and retreat from fast-paced, digitally fueled modern life. Ball decided to purchase what he calls “old-school” games – board games and card games, as well as interactive activities and puzzles.
Today, that concept has evolved into Together Unplugged. The company helps families find the balance between screen time and family time with its subscription boxes.
The Subscription Boxes
The company’s boxes come with a variety of items, including three to four interactive games as well as activities. It features products such as TENZI, a dice game, as well as the classic Highlights magazines. The deliveries also typically come with a calendar of unique holidays and conversation starters, along with a checklist and certificate of completion families can use to track the unplugged time they spend together.
The supplies in each box are intended to help families gather in “as many different ways as possible,” Ball told PYMNTS. He said the products are designed to help families “play, create, read, learn, goal-set, laugh, team-build and celebrate together.” The boxes are geared toward families with children six years and older, but Ball said that four- and five-year-old children can partner up with a parent.
The eCommerce Experience
Consumers can sign up for Together Plugged through the company’s eCommerce website or via the Cratejoy subscription marketplace. They can sign up for a month-to-month membership, a three-month prepay, a six-month prepay or a 12-month plan through either channel. With the annual plan, members receive their 12th box free. The boxes ship for free and consumers can cancel at any time.
Together Unplugged is hardly alone: All of the top merchants in the PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index offered plan options, free shipping and cancellation. As an additional option, consumers can choose to give boxes as gifts. For payment, the company accepts credit cards and debit cards on its website.
The Business Model
The subscription itself is unique in that there is a maximum duration of one year. Typically, said Ball, companies aim to get subscribers to stick around forever. However, after conducting some research, he found that most consumers subscribe to services for an average of six months, so he decided to offer a one-year maximum subscription.
By the time a family stays with the company for six months, Ball expects that they will have a “great library of games and activities and puzzles and things like that.” And by 12 months, he hopes they will not only have plenty of supplies, but that they will have realigned their typical schedule and reformed their technology habits to achieve a more unplugged state.
In the future, Ball would like to have a junior version of his box, but his overarching goal is to help families “spend more time engaged with each other.” With the help of the subscription business model, Together Unplugged aims to accomplish this goal with curated boxes designed for them to connect offline and away from the digital distractions of modern life.