KidPass, a monthly membership program that gives parents access to a variety of kid-friendly activities across their city, has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding, the startup reported this week. Currently live in New York, the new funds will allow the service to expand to new markets including L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Chicago.
The round was led by Javelin Venture Partners, with participation from new and existing investors, including CoVenture, Y Combinator, TIA Ventures, Bionic Fund, Cocoon Ignite Ventures, and FJ Labs among others.
Jed Katz, Managing Director at Javelin, and Rachel Jarrett, President of Zola, will join KidPass’s Board of Directors as a result of this funding.
The idea for KidPass is similar to ClassPass – a subscription service for adults looking to try different fitness classes around town, like yoga, cycling, Pilates, dance, and others. Though KidPass has a similar name, the two companies are not related.
However, KidPass works a lot like ClassPass does. Customers pay one monthly fee then can try classes all over town.
KidPass co-founder Solomon Liou explains he and his fellow founders, Aaron Kaufman, Chhay Chhun, and Olivia Ballvé, decided to start the company after becoming parents themselves and became frustrated with how difficult and time-consuming it was to find great activities for their kids.
“While there were mobile apps to instantly book restaurants, doctors, and taxis on-demand, there wasn’t anything like that for kids’ activities,” says Liou. “In fact, the main way that parents discover kids classes today is still through word of mouth from talking to other parents, or using Google Search and going through page after page of results. It’s time consuming and difficult to navigate, with many businesses not even having a presence online,” he adds.
Plus, even when you found a class, many providers only took in-person registrations, or required you to book upfront payments for semester-long programs – all before you know if your child will even like the course, Liou notes.
To use KidPass today, parents choose from one of three membership options which start at $49 per month. These subscriptions offer credits that can be used to pay for the various activities, like dance classes, arts and crafts activities, sports, museum classes and camps, science and technology classes, swimming classes, kids cooking classes, fitness classes, academic classes and many more.
At present, there are over 900 activity providers using the platform, like Gymboree, Kidville, Music Together, Super Soccer Stars, Physique Swimming, The Craft Studio, Chocolate Works, the Museum of Modern Art, YMCA, JCC, and others.
Since its launch in January 2016, 20,000 families have signed up for the service and have booked over 100,000 activities. There are today over 3,000 subscribers in NYC, and the KidPass is growing at 20 to 30 percent nearly every month, Liou says.
The service works by offering parents a certain number of credits that can be used per month to book activities. The basic tier includes 10 credits and supports up to 2 children. The middle tier supports up to 5 kids and includes 25 credits. And the highest tier supports unlimited kids and 50 credits.
Some activities only take one or two credits, but other premium activities and camps could take 10 or more. Any unused credits will roll over for three months, in case parents get busy and can’t use the credits right away.
This credits-based system could help KidPass avoid the problems that plagued ClassPass – that company eventually had to raise prices and ditch its unlimited tier in order to stay afloat.
“[The use of credits] allows us to charge varying prices to the parents depending on the activity’s cost to make sure that parents get a great deal, while ensuring that the unit economics work well for us as a marketplace supporting both businesses and families,” explains Liou. “We have had positive gross margins as a business because of our business model, and we intentionally avoided any unlimited plans that could be highly unprofitable,” he says.
There are a few reasons why parents would want to pay for a service like this instead of booking directly with a class provider.
Most importantly, however, is that KidPass provides a means of discovery for children’s activities. In the large markets KidPass serves, there are so many activities available that parents may not know of all their available options. They also might not want to commit to booking multiple sessions with an activity provider before being able to try out the class or camp first.
KidPass isn’t the only startup tackling this space. It competes with others like Sawyer and Pearachute, for example.
In addition to expanding to new markets, KidPass is developing software for activity providers that helps with class management, online registrations scheduling and payments. This software is in private beta with some KidPass partners.
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