It’s Female Founder Friday and I’m excited to introduce you to the two women entrepreneurs behind Activity Rocket, Ilene Miller and Lisa Friedlander. As busy moms with 5 children between them, Ilene and Lisa struggled (like all moms do) to find the right classes and after school activities to fit their kids’ needs and schedules. The spark for their company happened when Lisa spent hours looking for a gymnastics class for her daughter, while her friend Ilene had booked her travel plans with Expedia in minutes. ActivityRocket was their solution to the time-consuming stress of looking for children’s activities. It’s essentially Expedia for kids classes, activities, and summer camps.
Activity Rocket has rapidly grown from a few dozen providers and parents to more than 600 local activity businesses with over 100,000 unique activities, 10,000+ parents using Activity Rocket regularly, and over half a million dollars in programs booked. Activity Rocket was the DC finalist in the InnovateHer 2016 challenge, which is an amazing accolade especially as Ilene and Lisa were former attorneys who jumped into tech entrepreneurship!
So, if you’re considering starting a business that solves a frustration in your life, or if you’re curious how two courageous women without tech or business backgrounds launched, scaled, and sold a tech company, don’t miss Ilene & Lisa’s answers to my questions below!
What inspired you to create your company?
Frustration! We were two very busy moms with young kids spending way too much time finding, scheduling, paying for, arranging carpools, and schlepping kids to activities and camps. We knew there had to be a way to bring an Expedia or Open Table-like solution to the kids enrichment space.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
We wish one of us had been a programmer or developer. Not being able to program our own site has been a persistent obstacle we have had to overcome. One of these days we are going to learn to code!
We are presently focused on building the enrichment marketplace first in metro DC and then nationwide as part of the Thrively executive team. We are thrilled to be part of a company that has its sights set on helping kids reach their full potential and thrive!
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Thrively of course. We take the burden of finding the best classes and camps for kids and making it easy to rinse and repeat which means more time for female founders – especially those that are also moms – to focus on your passion. And following our acquisition – we now offer a FREE proprietary strength assessment just for kids (grades 3 through 12) so parents can better understand their kids passions, aspirations and interests and help them discover their genius as well!
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“I Will Survive.” It sounds cliche but those words – “First I was afraid, I was petrified.” rings true for two former attorneys launching a tech based business venture without tech or business experience. We have persevered through so many obstacles. It’s hard not to look at the mountain ahead, but we try to also appreciate how far up we have already climbed through shear grit, determination, resourcefulness and perseverance.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Do it! Trust your gut. If you believe in your idea baby step it forward. There will be naysayers – even among your family and friends – but if you truly believe just keep stepping it forward. Go for 70% right. Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Sometimes your naivete about a subject matter (lawyers entering tech) works to your advantage because you don’t see the obstacles that someone expert in that area might see; you see only the opportunities. And its not necessary to become an expert on everything – only to surround yourself with advisors and mentors from whom you can draw the best advice at the right time. Also be prepared to pivot – the marketplace, technology, and culture change rapidly. Let your idea evolve in light of those changes.