Activity Rocket Blasts Off
A new website, launched by Bethesda moms, helps busy parents find activities for their children.
It is the age old winter dilemma. It’s cold outside, and suddenly the kids need something to do. Most parents hate slogging through hundreds of different internet sites looking for activities.
Luckily, local entrepreneurs and Bethesda residents Lisa Friedlander and Ilene Miller have created a powerful tool to help.
In September, Friedlander and Miller founded Activity Rocket, a free online search engine for children’s activities in Montgomery County. The site lets parents search a wide variety of activities, similar to travel search engines such as Expedia or Kayak. The site allows parents to search by activity type, age, gender, zip code, day and even cost.
Recently, Friedlander and Miller sat down with Patch to discuss the site.
Q: What problem are you trying to solve for parents in this area with your service? Did your own experience as a parent inspire you to start the company?
A: Our experiences as parents of young children inspired Activity Rocket. In fact, it was our own personal frustration with trying to find activities for our kids, having to go to multiple provider websites, searching for the right time, price and location, then starting all over again when the next activity season started that led to Activity Rocket.
When Lisa’s daughter Camryn was three, she could not easily find an activity – any activity - between 1 and 3 p.m. while the other kids were in school! Meanwhile, Ilene was searching for flights on Expedia and recognized the ease with which she could find a flight at the right time and price.
From that "a-ha" moment - the first search and compare website for kids activities was born.
Q: How is the service helpful to working parents?
A: For time crunched working parents, the Rocket is an amazing solution. No more searching yellow pages or Google for incomplete activity provider listings. No more parents magazines that include directory listings of only their advertisers.
The Rocket is a comprehensive search and compare online tool that all parents – but especially those with limited time – can use to find exactly what they are looking for and when. And in this economy, it is also a great tool for parents on a budget who can find classes at the right cost and deals and coupons too.
Q: What ages does the site cover? What types of activities are available?
A: The Rocket includes enrichment classes for children ages 0-12 throughout Montgomery County. The variety of activities is amazing and includes everything from traditional sports like soccer, lacrosse, and baseball and performing arts like dance, singing, and violin lessons to harder to find activities like skateboarding, hula hooping, orienteering, clay animation, cricket, debate, magic, money management, photography, playwriting, and woodworking. We pride ourselves on offering those hard to find activities – like Ga Ga!
Q: How many providers and activities do you offer?
A: Currently, there are 114 providers and 6920 activities, but that number grows each day. To offer some insight as to our explosive growth, on Oct. 2, we had 82 providers and 3,990 activities. Our providers include the municipalities like Montgomery Village, as well as private providers like East West Tae Kwon Do in Potomac, Great and Small Therapeutic Riding in Boyds, Hands on Science in Silver Spring, VisArts in Rockville, and Bethesda Lacrosse Association in Bethesda.
Q: What has the response been so far?
A: Site feedback has been out of this world! Nearly 10,000 visitors have visited the site since launch less than 3 months ago. They are spending an average of three minutes on the site searching the many offerings. Parents have commented that whether they have lived here all their lives or are new to MoCo – this is the one site where they can find it all and get expert advice, ratings and deals too!
Q: What made you choose Montgomery County as your location?
We are local moms. Lisa was born and raised in MoCo and has 3 children including Camryn (5), Cole (8), Jaclyn (10). Her kids participate in a variety of activities – sports, art, martial arts. Ilene has 2 boys – Mark (9) and Max (7 1/2) who also love sports, guitar and art. We are both lawyers by background and two years ago wanted to start a business together. We thought the best business ideas solve every day problems. And we felt the biggest frustration over activities. We knew there had to be a more efficient way.
The Rocket is soaring because of a team of talented parents and “momtrepreneurs” including Alison Ewing, Anne Kisslinger, Jamie Bass, Marjorie Haas, Lani Marks, Amy Bulson, Angie Child, and Cathy McGarrity who have lent their time and professional expertise in marketing, social media, technology and advertising to the success of the site.
Q: Currently, the site is limited to Montgomery County. Do you have plans to expand?
A: Absolutely. We are Bethesda moms so we decided best to start in our own backyard where we had a greater understanding of the activity provider marketplace; however, the Rocket is beneficial in any geographic area nationwide and we plan to blast off across the country.
We are our audience so we know what is needed and we have lots of additional plans for a more robust site in Phase 2.