Meet Lisa Friedlander, CEO & Co-Founder of Activity Rocket, an aggregate website that finds the best classes, camps and activities for kids in Montgomery County, Maryland; Fairfax County,and Washington, DC areas. Friedlander started the website with Ilene Miller in 2010 after having difficulty finding the best and most affordable afterschool and enrichment programs effectively.
Friedlander shared with WashingtonExec her experiences in the early days of Activity Rocket, some of the company’s best features that make it easy to organize a kids schedule, and future plans for the 2-year old organization.
WashingtonExec: What made you all create Activity Rocket? How has the organization changed since inception?
Lisa Friedlander: Activity Rocket was born from two mothers’ frustration with finding, scheduling, planning and sharing afterschool activities for our children. I was trying to find an activity for my then 3 year old daughter on a Tuesday at 1pm – I didn’t care what the activity yet it still took me hours to find something that would work during this day and time. Around the same time, my business partner, Ilene Miller, was searching quickly and efficiently on Expedia to make travel plans; fulfilling her specific need in a matter of minutes.
We had an ah ha moment as we lamented how easy it was to search for travel, but not for kids activities. We proceeded to interview parents, activity business providers, and website developers – and everyone shared in our disbelief that an Expedia like site for activities did not exist. Thus, Activity Rocket was born! I would say the greatest change since founding Activity Rocket is the growth of our team of incredible women/moms who also share in our passion and have climbed on board the Rocket to help it soar!
Before The Rocket parents had to consult the yellow pages, Google searches, parent magazines – and the information returned from those sources was incomplete and created more work for parents who having found an interesting business would have to follow up with a call or website visit to confirm schedule, cost and location.
WashingtonExec: Why the name “Activity Rocket”?
Lisa Friedlander: Rockets are fast, efficient, and take you somewhere beyond your imagination. Activity Rocket helps parents find activities fast whether they prioritize time, schedule, location, price or the type of activity itself. Happy parents who aren’t frazzled searching, comparing and sharing activities results in kids who get to experience things they never imagined. And The Rocket also works fast to connect the businesses that are offering activities.
Before The Rocket parents had to consult the yellow pages, Google searches, parent magazines – and the information returned from those sources was incomplete and created more work for parents who having found an interesting business would have to follow up with a call or website visit to confirm schedule, cost and location. The Rocket has condensed multiple steps into one – visit activityrocket.com – look up gymnastics – see ALL of the businesses offering that activity – and choose the best one for YOU by cost, location or schedule! The Rocket takes parents to the universe of kid’s activities quickly and efficiently; saving tons of time and aggravation.
WashingtonExec: What would you say is your demographic or target audience?
Lisa Friedlander: Our target audience is parents of kids ages 0-18 who value the emotional, physical, educational and other benefits kids derive from enrichment and other afterschool activities. We are currently launched in Montgomery County, MD and expanding into Northern VA and Washington, DC. Studies and just plain common sense repeatedly demonstrate that kids that participate in afterschool or weekend enrichment have better self confidence, better health and wellness, and are less likely to participate in drugs, over eating, or other adverse behaviors. And besides, learning to skateboard or do clay animation is fun!
WashingtonExec: What is the one thing that you have learned throughout this experience that you did not expect?
Lisa Friedlander: Parents and businesses alike were allied in their desire for a solution to the disconnect in the activity planning space. Many activities and parents were looking to connect and missing each other in the process. Activity Rocket has solved for that problem.
WashingtonExec: How important do you view social media as an outlet to getting your message out?
Lisa Friedlander: Social media including facebook, twitter, blogs, eblasts, and list-serves have been the fuel to our success. As parents explore The Rocket and find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently – they share that experience with friends, classmates, colleagues – and the next thing you know – the site is exploding with visitors.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite feature of Activity Rocket? Or what would you say has been the most helpful information that you have found on Activity Rocket?
Lisa Friedlander: We saved our best features for users who sign up. Parents can search The Rocket anonymously – but by signing up with your email address and telling us a little about your kids (age, interest) – parents can search more quickly by the activities their kids like best. Parents who have signed up can easily share chosen activities with friends. And parents can use the activity planning calendar to avoid double booking their kids on opposite sides of town. Best of all – once your activity calendar is set you can upload it all into your personal calendar – no more typing “dance on Tuesday at 4″ over and over again for each kid each activity cycle – the Rocket does it for you fast!
WashingtonExec: Where do you hope to see Activity Rocket in 2 years?
Lisa Friedlander: Nationally available to ALL parents to take the work out of finding activities for kids! Happy parents, happy kids!