M: What is your business origin story? Or, in other words, how did you come up with the idea for Kid Up And Go?
JEN: Whether you move across town or to an outlying suburb, the reality is that everything changes for you and your family and I found there isn't one parenting resource site that covers all of the DC metro area. When we moved across the bridge from DC to Alexandria, I realized that this need was not fulfilled and found that there weren't any reliable resources to search for new doctors or dentists for my kids, nor did I have an established neighborhood "tribe" to turn to for these questions. Most of my friends were still in DC proper or other states so I had no one to ask for recommendations for the things I needed most.
Since the DC area is very transient for a lot of families, I figured I wasn't alone. I held focus groups to see if my hunch was right and it turns out that there wasn't one source that parents, including ones that had lived in the area for years, were turning to, especially in the medical area. I worked with area website designers to build the model that would cover all parenting needs: a site that has searchable databases for kid/family-related items where a user can read reviews from others as well as the option to make it more tailored to the user's profile. I was originally going to release the sections in the site in different phases, but decided to put them out all at once.
M: That's incredible. I love how you set about to provide a solution for a problem that existed not only for you, but for many in our area. So, how is your web site different from other kid-focused activity websites here?
JEN: There are a lot of great activity and event resources in the area and I have them listed under the resource section of the site, but there isn't one that encompasses all of the areas that parents might need assistance with. Kid Up and Go allows users the ability to search large online databases including reviews, calendar of events, plus parenting tips and products to help make parenting a breeze.
M: That's great! I know a few sites I visit to see what activities are happening on any given day, but they don't always incorporate reviews or physician recommendations or general parenting advice. I love that you're a one-stop shop! Do you have plans to expand your services in the future?
JEN: Yes, the goal is to expand to different places throughout the US. Starting with the DC metro area was a no-brainer, not just because I've lived in the area for 14 years, but all that the area has to offer from things to do, three teaching hospitals, two hospital systems specifically for treating children and numerous community resources.
M: Nationwide expansion... a lofty goal! I'm sure that process will be fun since you'll get to know other metro areas like you know DC. What do you hope your web site provides for DC-area parents?
JEN: My hope is that parents use it as their "go to" resource tool. The site can also be used by grandparents, aunt/uncles and people that have friends visiting with kids.
M: I know you’re celebrating your 1-year anniversary and that’s a huge milestone! What are some things you’ve learned about being a business owner that you wish you knew before your launched your business?
JEN: Thanks! I was very proud to hit the 1-year mark since there are a lot of businesses that don't and hopefully the site will still be around at the 5-year mark. There are lots of things that I learned and am still learning.
I've been very lucky in my career to be on both the startup and Venture Capital side. Having some of that insight definitely helped prepare me for my own venture. However, just like having your first kid, you can never be fully prepared. I wrote a post about it for the anniversary and it's definitely worth a read to anyone considering a startup. One of the things that I wish I would have known before I launched is how much hustle it takes to get the social media numbers up as well as trying to stay on top of the ever changing FB algorithms.
M: Congratulations, again, Jen! I'm sure there are many DC-area parents who are grateful to you and the site you've created to help in their parenting adventures. And thank you so much for your willingness to be interviewed for my blog.
If you want to check out all the incredible information Jen's Kid Up And Go web site has to offer, click here.