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Earn Money for your School or Organization!

Did you know that just by signing up for camps and classes through ActivityHero, your school can earn money?

Not only does ActivityHero help you find the best camp or class for your child where you can search by date, age, activity, location, and even extended care; you can also see ratings and read reviews from other real parents just like you.

Now every camp or class registration booked on ActivityHero can have even more of a positive impact:

  • Every class or camp registration could earn $5 toward your school
  • Parents save time by filling out the EasyEnroll form that can be used to book multiple registrations–no more wasted time searching for emergency contact numbers or important allergy information
  • Go green & help the environment by eliminating unnecessary paperwork

To sign up for this fundraising program, simply visit this link: https://www.activityhero.com/go/school-fundraiser. We will send you a special tracking URL that you can include in emails, Facebook, website, etc.

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More About Us Supermoms in the Spotlight Two and a Half Moms

8 Tips to Balance the Demands of Startup and Parenthood

ActivityHero co-founder Shilpa Dalmia was asked by Women 2.0 how she manages to balance the demands of a family with kids and a startup company. Here’s what she had to say:

Shilpa’s daughter is so supportive of her work, she even asked to be our mascot Activiana for Halloween! Here she is in her costume!

Many people ask, “How do you balance work and life with two young kids and a startup?”

My answer is, “The same way you raise three kids.” A startup is just like another child. Each child has his/her/its own demands and needs, and each gives you immense satisfaction and pleasure.

Here are some tips for parents thinking about venturing into the world of entrepreneurship:

Tip #1 – Treat your startup like another baby.

Each child is a full-time job. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you are ready to handle another child. You go through similar stages and emotions running a startup as you do while raising a child:

  • Market research, testing ideas, joining entrepreneurial communities for a startup is similar to researching what’s right for you child and joining parenting groups.
  • Picking out names.
  • Sleepless nights.
  • Celebrating little milestones like your startup’s first soft-launch and pilot customer are like celebrating a baby’s first smile and first step.
  • Every day is a challenge, lots of unknowns, unpredictability.
  • Realizing that this is something you cannot stop being attached to. Just like you cannot stay away from your kids, you cannot stay away from working on your startup.

Tip #2 – Involve your kids in your startup.

Make them feel part of it so there is no sibling rivalry. There will be times when you can do things together as a family – designing the logo, coming up with names for your company, discussing challenges – let them help you wherever they can.

My eight year old daughter is so excited about my startup that she begged to dress up as my company mascot for Halloween last week!

Tip #3 – Your spouse plays an extremely important role.

His/her support, both mental and physical, can make a huge difference in dealing with the stress factor.

Tip #4 – Quality more important than quantity when it comes to time.

Do the things you enjoy doing the most – like cooking or driving kids around or playing board games or reading – and delegate the rest. I cannot stress the importance of delegating and not getting caught up with doing things you hate. Hire help – cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping. This is part of the startup investment you’re making.

Tip #5 – Make sure your finances are in order.

Don’t let that add to your stress. Remember, you are not the 20 year old college kid who can live in a suitcase and has nothing much to lose.

Tip #6 – Give your 100% to the task at hand.

Remember, each child is a full-time job. And in order to do justice to each, you need to give each one your complete attention. If you’re spending time with your child doing their favorite activity, don’t do anything else. Shut off your phone, do not check emails. When you’re working at home, let your kids know that this is your work time and you do not want to be disturbed.

Tip #7 – Take a vacation.

Yes, you cannot be entirely disconnected while on vacation, but make sure to take a break. It’s important for both you and your family’s sanity.

Tip #8 – Remember, your co-founder is like your spouse.

You are raising this baby together, so make sure one of you is always there to take care of this baby. It’s important to make sure that you not only have complementary skills, but also complementary timings so when you have your cellphone off or you are on your little family vacation, you know your baby is still well taken care of.

At the end of the day, it will be the respect that you have for each other and the love for your baby that will see your company through both the good times and bad.

By Shilpa Dalmia

 

Originally posted here by Women 2.0

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Kid tech / parenting tech meetup recap

Recap of the kid/parenting tech meetup co-hosted by ActivityHero and 500Startups on 11/07/12

Knowledge dissemination in progress…….

Over 70 early stage startups working on parenting and kid focused technology, and the awesomely knowledgeable panel who came to enlighten these 70 startups on distribution techniques, together rocked the house. The only fly in the ointment, I discovered later, was that the audio feed wasn’t recorded. Doh!

Those who are still adamant about watching 5 mute people mime in a terribly boring fashion, watch the video here

And in a vain attempt to mollify the angry mob that turned up in twitter with pitchforks in hand, I have begged/borrowed/stolen notes from our awesomely generous panelists and pasted them below. Go forth and have your fill.

Mike Greenfield, Founder of Circle of Moms and TeamRankings, and self professed data geek who blogs extensively about data and startups at his enlightening yet convolutedly named NumerateChoir blog (a must follow!) said the following:

  1. Measure things and make decisions based on data, not hunches.
  2. A/B test
  3. Growth needs to be integrated into your product properly; the tactics that worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you.
  4. Moms of kids under one are a different from moms of older kids; once kids reach one or two, moms are far more likely to have social structures for their kids, so “meet moms in your area” is less compelling.
  5. Circle of Moms grew a lot early on with Facebook invitations, but that channel became less effective over time (for a variety of reasons).  Later on, we used a bunch of channels to grow and re-engage users.  All things equal, it’s easier to grow quickly with one really strong channel.

Seth Rosenblatt, the governing Board Member & President of San Carlos School District and the former president of San

Mateo County school boards association was very empathetic to the startups’ need for speed while politely sharing his knowledge about the constraints from the educators’ perspective. Follow him on his blog where he muses about education and other local issues. He said the following:

  1. Public education definitely has constraints and is historically slow to adopt (funding constraints, legal constraints, etc.)
  2. But educational leaders do fundamentally want to innovate, and we may be at a tipping point for “21st Century Education” – breaking down of the virtual “walls” of schools
  3. Common Core standards coming — lots of opportunities to connect there (e.g. teacher training, test taking skills, etc.)
  4. Opportunities to better connect teachers, parents, students for collaboration – anything that connects out of school time with in school time (i.e. blended learning)
  5. Solutions that save districts money are always valuable
  6. Make pitch very specific — it’s not about how you will “save education” but tie specifically to some of the issues above – you have to cut through the noise
  7. Look for champions within a school district — could vary by district
  8. Look at organizations such as county offices of education, eSchoolNews, CSBA, county organizations, etc – ask who are champions/visionaries within school districts
  9. Emphasize thought leadership, case studies, etc — districts want to learn from other districts
  10. Multi-pronged approach to marketing (parents, schools, board members, etc.) — depending on community, could be led by parents who then put pressure on schools

Beth Blecherman, tech blogger and contributing writer to Mashable, Laptop magazine and Cool Mom Tech and co-founder of Silicon Valley Moms Group, a network of regional mom blogs across the country (it was sold to Technorati) was overflowing with tips on how the startup community can reach parents through mom bloggers. She spoke mainly about:

  1. How to identify the right parent bloggers
  2. How moms use different social media platforms
  3. Difference between a press pitch and a service pitch
  4. How to pitch to bloggers & bigger media sites

She was kind enough to write an entire blog post elaborating these points above: Top Tips for Kid-Tech apps to pitch parent bloggers. Check out her new book My Parent Plan about applying project management to parenting.

Satyajit Sahu, a computer scientist turned entrepreneur whose super successful app iRewardChart, featured on NBC’s Today show, CNET, CNN and several other national media outlets, recommended by Apple as a parenting essential, winner of the Best Parenting App award two years in a row, came well prepared with 10 essential points to note about mobile distribution:

  1. App review websites sites
  2. ASO
  3. Pay per install
  4. Giveaways
  5. Vanity URL
  6. Facebook app center
  7. Cross-promotion with your other apps
  8. App integration with platforms
  9. Strategic partnerships
  10. App store curated lists

He elaborates on all these 10 points above in this post on Distribution Tips for Mobile Apps

Cool Startups + Awesome Panelists = Mind-blowing Meetup!

All in all, the combination of a very knowledgeable panel and an excited audience made for a fun event. Sign up to the kid and parenting tech meetup group and watch out for cool future panel discussions on topics like design, fundraising, legal etc. specifically focused on parenting and kid-tech.

Also, keep the conversation going between meetups by joining this facebook group.

 

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Distribution tips for mobile apps

Satyajit Sahu is founder of iRewardChart, an iphone and android app that helps parents keep track of their child’s behavior and reward them appropriately. The app was featured on NBC’s Today Show, CNET, CNN and several other national media outlets. The app was recommended by Apple as a parenting essential and won the Best Parenting App award two years in a row. This is a recap of a talk he gave at a parenting and kid-focused tech meetup.

The following are some tips to increase app downloads:

1. App review sites: Get reviewed. Doesn’t matter by whom, whether it’s by a blog read by 100 people or 1M people, every post/article about you is a permanent footprint, and looks good in Google’s eyes. Video reviews are especially better for SEO.

2. ASO (AppStore Search Optimization): Hack your title, description, and keywords to be more searchable. With iOS6, it’s even more important, because now the search results are full-screen.

3. Pay-per-install: Companies like GetJar, TapJoy help discovery via a virtual currency platform. You can get promoted through their network. This works best for freemium games.

4. Giveaways: Everyone loves freebies, and it still is a great way to get distributed. However, you need to have a plan behind a free day promotion. Amazon has a AppOfTheDay program that gets a huge number of downloads. So perhaps you can use that to promote an in-app-purchase upgrade, or another app. Giving away free works if you have closed viral loops so that those tens of thousands of users bring in millions of other users.

5. Vanity URL: This could help get your app listed in the Application tab of Facebook. Then you can launch the app within Facebook, or any other site for that matter. There are many listing apps (such as apps for busy moms, apps for toddlers, etc.), they use the vanity URL to invoke your app. Kindertown is such an app discovery platform for kids apps.

6. Facebook App Center: It helps to have a profile on Facebook AppCenter (facebook.com/appcenter). This makes you more visible on the largest social network.

7. Cross-promotion: If you have several apps, cross-promote one through another. If users are happy using your app, they are likely to look for other apps made by you.

8. App Integration: Many app infrastructure companies open up their platform to be used by any developer. For example, Dropbox, Evernote are hugely popular, and provide fairly deep integration onto their platform. Some have even created a portal (http://trunk.evernote.com) to feature the apps.

9. Strategic partnerships: Do you have synergy with a website where your users visit often? You could even co-brand a version of the app (maybe a free version with limitations) for a partner. That way, they get to flaunt an app in the appstore, and you get their distribution channels, be featured on their website. If you’re partnering on a paid app, then there may be a cost involved, so you should negotiate a fixed cost for a fixed time duration.  After the initial period you can have a rev share with the partner.

10. App Stores: Some appstore do curations. Apple has several regular features (What’s hot, Essential listing, Staff picks) and some seasonal (Halloween, Olympics, etc.) picks. It helps to be featured on these curated lists.

 

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“Does this Cape make my Butt look Big?”

I’ll be the first to admit that the phrase “super mom” can be overused and at times even a little annoying. Nowhere near as fast as a speeding bullet, chasing around a toddler while avoiding a mine field of Hot Wheels… she’s a mom, she’s… a superhero? Let’s get one thing straight here, Superman didn’t get where he is now by popping on a blue unitard, drawing an “S” on his chest and walking around with a sense of self-entitlement—so gives your average everyday mom the right to call herself “super mom”?

Society paints the picture of a super mom as someone like Victoria Beckham. She takes her kids to soccer in stilettos, whisks them away on a whim to prance on the beaches of Jamaica, and lost her baby weight in less time than it took to labor her child. Now I’m sure that Ms. Beckham is a wonderful mother but let’s face it—this sets the bar a little too high for the rest of us. Walk into the home of a self-proclaimed “super mom” and you’re likely to find toys scattered about the floor, a sink full of dishes crusted with macaroni and cheese, and an exhausted, unshowered mom who may have been wearing the same milk-stained stretch pants for the past 2 days.

So what entitles any of us to call ourselves a super mom? To me, a mom who sacrifices her time, attention, energy, and a good night’s sleep (more like 18 years) to make sure that her kids are happy is a super mom. Her home might be a wreck and she might not have brushed her hair in a week or so, but her kids are happy and healthy. Or maybe she’s figured out a way to get herself showered, dressed, and looking presentable on a daily basis and that in itself deserves a medal. You see, a super mom fills the roles of about 100 people on a daily basis—chauffeur, chef, housekeeper, teacher, drill sergeant—just to name a few. Some days are more successful than others, but that comes with the territory.

So don’t be ashamed to call yourself a super mom, even if your wrinkled cape is covered in grass stains, doesn’t quite cover the spider veins from birthing a 9 pound baby, and wouldn’t pass a sniff test from a mile away—it fits enough to wear proudly.

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Activity Hero Joins the 500 Mentor Network

So what is a startup for moms by moms up to at 500? Kicking butt, of course!

Like many other startups that hustle to get into 500, we crashed an invite-only New Year’s party. We found an unsuspecting & tired Dave McClure, and excitedly pitched the most useful thing ever in the entire universe for a mom (or something like that).

It is quite easy for us to get excited about what we do. We’re after all a company built out of the frustration that no one else thinks our problems are important enough to be solved. Why $2.1 trillion seems a trivial market for Silicon Valley to pursue, we know not, but that parents need help spending $20 billion on kids after-school activities and summer camps, we know quite well, so we’re determined to help them spend it right. And let’s not forget the vendors, over 50% of whom are paying us because of the order of magnitude better conversions they get from our site compared to similar channels; we are determined to continue to awe them.

And we’re not stopping there. Heck no! We’re not resting until all the problems every fellow mom encounters finding the right local services for her kids are solved. It’s a real problem, our problem, and we’re determined to make the lives of our everyday unsung heroes a little easier. (Yep, we just called ourselves everyday unsung heroes. We have pictures in capes to prove it.)

And this is where the 500 mentor network has been super helpful so far. (No, not the cape part, the solving the problem part) In this short time we’ve been here, the conversations with just a handful of mentors, leveraging their combined experience, has just been a goldmine of information, leap-frogging our growth and stopping us from going on wild goose chases. It’s not just time and money that was saved, but the frustrations and consequent greying of hair! Talking to someone like Dave Schappell about vendor acquisition and retention; Bret Terrill about game mechanics; Evan Nisselson about community building; Jason Hreha about design; James Levine about two-sided marketplaces & Chris Turitzen about awesome ideas for FB fan acquisitions around Hallmark & non-Hallmark Holidays – none of which would’ve been available to us just a month ago when we were on the “outside”. This, we already know, is just the tip of the iceberg. We see everyday the 500 family very active on the internal dashboard talking about everything from advisor stake to immigration attorneys to joint Mother’s day campaigns. The network has amazing people proudly proclaiming #500strong.

We’re very excited to be a part of this family. As a startup built by moms, our favorite self-made quote is “it takes an entire village to build a company”. We’ve always known that it’s the people who are going to make the difference, and we are always looking for the right people who can help make the dream of every busy frustrated mom a reality. You can help too: if you have big brains, we can use your help; if you have a loud mouth, we can use your help; if you have big pockets, we could use your help too. Come join our family and let’s kick some butt!