As the mothers of a collective group of five children, Lisa Friedlander and Ilene Miller already have full time jobs taking care of their kids. They used to dedicate hours out of their day to researching enrichment programs, camps, and classes to provide opportunities to their active and engaged children, but this proved to be a huge time-suck and an organizational nightmare with never-ending calendars, email chains, and excel sheets documenting the schedules of each kid. They realized that this was a problem frequent amongst families with children, especially since the process repeated itself several times a year as the kids aged out of programs or wanted to try new things. The idea eventually leading to their company, Activity Rocket, came slowly—they first saw an opening when other services allowed them to search, compare options, and make reservations online like Open Table for restaurants and Expedia for travel. They began to wonder: what if there was a similar option for children’s activities?
And so Activity Rocket was born. On the site, which is 100% free to parents, search filter like location, time, child’s age, tuition, and dates make it easy for parents to choose what’s right for their child without spending hours scouring the web. As Lisa and Ilene say, “we can’t eliminate traffic on the way to the soccer field, or get your toddler to stop crying,” but we can “make it easier than ever to navigate the wonderful world of kids enrichment activities.”
Being women was a hugely influential part of their decision to start this company. Ilene remarks that “As two former attorneys, we were accustomed to frequently being the only women at pitch and other events.” The resilience they gained as female professionals, paired with their experience as the parents who had the primary responsibility for managing their kid’s activities gave them the insights they needed to build a custom platform that addressed all of the pain points they felt and saw reflected in other parents. They believe their solution is unique, and comment that “too often consumer marketplace solutions that will bring relief to millions of families are marginalized.” Luckily, they have been able to access a more far reaching audience, due to their support from family, advisors, mentors, and champions.
But through the success, they remain rooted to the same original goals. They are glad to say that Activity Rocket is already changing the way parents, and predominantly mothers, discover, curate, register and share their kid’s classes and camps. They say that the best part of the experience is “hearing all the time from parents that love the tool for the time, money and frustration it saves them.” They are happy to see that relying on the internet to manage households can take some of the stress off of parents’ busy schedules, leaving them more time with their kids.
Lisa and Ilene remark that founding a startup is a marathon that requires tremendous perseverance, and they are proud of the milestones they have achieved this year. In particular, they are happy to have surpassed 100,000 activities in inventory, $100,000 in registration subscriptions and $300,000 in transaction revenue, along with their first place finish in a regional InnovateHer competition. They soon hope to see Activity Rocket as “the international one-stop website for parents,” and would love to launch similar initiatives serving adults, senior, and families for relatives with special needs. Says Ilene, “the platform potential is endless.” No doubt, too, is their potential as entrepreneurs.