Star Tech: Dubai app Lock & Stock unlocks users' smartphone addiction

The app is touted as the first-of-its-kind solution for screen-time management

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Fri 4 Nov 2022, 5:39 PM

Last updated: Fri 4 Nov 2022, 7:35 PM

Lock&Stock, which was founded in September 2017 and relaunched in February 2022, is a mobile application (app) that helps people manage their screen time by rewarding them for staying off their smartphones.

The longer users are able to stay off their smartphones, the more rewards they can collect in the form of ‘keys’, which is the in-app currency. Users can then utilise these keys to access different features of the app, the most popular ones being participating in a weekly challenge to win a prize or to sponsor educational classes for underprivileged children.

Every week, users have a chance to participate in a challenge by collecting ‘Zen Points’ and stand a chance to win prizes from popular brands. Lock&Stock has partnered with a non-profit in India called KPI Manavar that helps facilitate these classes for children through their centres. At the end of each quarter, Lock&Stock writes a donation to KPI Manavar based on the number of classes sponsored by users during that time.

The app is focusing on the problem of smartphone addiction among children, youth and adults.

Over 50,000 users, aged between nine and 45, from more than 70 different countries have been using Lock&Stock. Lock&Stock users have saved more than 92,000 hours of screen time, which is equivalent to 3,100 days, and have sponsored over 29,000 classes, that add up to 2,800 days of school, since the relaunch of the app in February 2022.

So, what made Craig Fernandes, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lock&Stock, think about launching the app?

Craig, a Mumbaikar, who grew up in Dubai, hit upon the idea while studying at a university in Iowa, USA.

“I noticed a problem among students in classrooms spending the majority of their time on a digital device for non study-related activities. I did some more research and found that students spend around 25 per cent of their classroom time on their phones, while 62 per cent of children say their parents are distracted by mobile phones when they try to talk to them,” said Craig.

On his return to Dubai, he launched Lock&Stock as a “smartphone detoxification among students in the UAE”.

The initial launch went down well as the app attracted the attention of over 80,000 students and also struck a chord with professionals.

Data showed that Lock&Stock users have saved over 92,000 hours of screen time to date. That time was spent with family and friends, watching a movie, reading a book, studying, working or simply just being by themselves instead of being glued to their screens.

Craig weighed in on the app’s progress since its initial launch over five years ago.

“Earlier, it was an app built for students. Students in schools and universities would lock their phones during class, earn rewards and use them to access a network of offers and discounts from popular brands in the UAE.

"The raging Covid-19 pandemic, which struck in early 2020, changed the narrative, as people couldn’t spend much time outdoors due to lockdown restrictions. Consequently, we encouraged users to lock their phones at home during their online classes, allowing them to continue to benefit from Lock&Stock.

“In August 2021, we made a decision to allow the rest of the world to enjoy Lock&Stock’s benefits by attaching a social cause to the mission,” he added.

At present, any user from around the world can lock their phone, earn rewards through Lock&Stock, and use those rewards to sponsor classes for underprivileged children in India.

Besides, users are also rewarded through a weekly competition with real-world prizes for locking their phones.

So far, its users have helped sponsor over 29,000 classes towards the education of underprivileged children, which works out to over 3,800 days of school.

Aaditya Raghu, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Lock&Stock, explained the concept behind the app.

“Developing a product that changes lives is a great reason to get out of bed every morning. We’re in such a unique position such as being a mobile app that helps reduce screen time while also making such a large social impact. The craziest part is that we’re just getting started,” he said.

Lock&Stock is touted as the first-of-its-kind solution for screen-time management. “There are a lot of other tools that are believed to be available in the market, but not many have been able to make the impact that we have. We are not going to stop at just the education of children but attach more social causes to our mission,” said Ian Fernandes, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Lock&Stock, and father of Craig.

Unlocking your life

Lock&Stock revolves around the fundamental mission: how to ‘unlock your (user) life’.

“Our goal is to help people find balance in their everyday lives and stay off their phones during those special moments when they are, for example, having dinner with their family or reading a book or meditating in the morning,” Craig said.

Lock&Stock, according to Craig and Ian, is at the pre-revenue stage. However, plans are afoot to introduce revenue streams by the second quarter of next year.

The software developers, in line with the changing times, are a “remote team”.

“Lock&Stock was created from apartments in Dubai, Mumbai and Jodhpur in India, and various parts of the world. Today, our team of 25, including developers, designers and marketers, come from seven different time zones, including the UAE, India, Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Malaysia,” Ian added.

Expansion plan

Though the company is headquartered in Dubai, Lock&Stock is available to users around the world to download and use. “We believe that screen addiction is a worldwide problem and needs awareness and solutions like ours. While the majority of the users on the application are from the UAE, we are beginning to see a gradual increase in activity from the five other GCC (Gulf Cooperation (GCC) countries as well as India,” Craig said, adding that “India is on the horizon for our next market to expand to.”

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