When I hear my whiney voiced 10 year old boy loitering around the house looking for something interesting to keep him free of boredom, I am sometimes at loss about what to do. As children grow old, demands and expectations grow and they often complain of lack of options to do something different to bring excitement in their regular schedule. In today’s modern day urban life, parent’s time is a scarce commodity and they are often short of enthusiastic ideas to help channelize the energies of many the younger minds.
But one person decided to make the roller coaster ride of parenthood interesting for other parents. So this IIM graduate with 13 years of work experience and a father of two, decided to quit his 9 to 5 job and start an online portal that would act as the one-stop source for all kinds of services related to children. Vishal Gupta, is the co-Founder & MD of Mycity4kids.com, which he started with two of his colleagues - Prashant Sinha and Asif Mohamed. This website is neither a classifieds website nor a pure e-commerce portal selling kids products. What it does is help unearths exclusive and extensive databases of information on activities happening at neighborhood/city level about schools, playschools, language classes, birthday celebrations, hobby classes, sports, fun places to visit, tuitions, events summer camps, fun family outings etc.
Mycity4kids was started with a vision of 'about your child, around your home’ and also provides a platform for parents to access information, share parenting experiences and seek guidance from other parents in the community. The website currently caters to parents in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. It has plans to enter another 10 cities across India by the end of this year.
Vishal says, “In India there is more than 350 millon school going children and 70% of the population is below the age of 30 years. Therefore we believe there is a lot one can do in kids space.” Seasonality plays an important role in the category and activities like summer camps, back to school, school admissions, and holidays are some trends common across cities, though the dates may vary. Vishal says the good thing about the category is that though demand for different services varies but demand is certainly there for kids-related services throughout the year.
Mycity4kids was bootstapped by pooling in Rs 50 lakhs from all three founders and began operations in April 2012. June 2012 they got seed funding from YourNest Angel Fund which helped them expand further. The key difference between any other e-tailing children’s product website and mycity4 kids is their extensive database on all kids related services, in depth information about options available according to age, interest and education says Vishal. The website also lists service providers, charges of services, location, schedules, contact address and other such related information. The payment for the various services chosen by parents is received by mycity4kids and then transferred online to the respective businesses. The website offers a cash pick up facility by “Ghar pay” to the parents.
In order to create high levels of engagement at the service provider’s level Vishal has also put together an online sales and marketing platform to SME’s in the children’s space. The SaaS solution addresses multiple issues that an SME faces in running their business. “They can take benefit from various consulting services like entry-level Kickstartplan (which helps businesses come online), response management, payment collection, local promotion, social media and ticketing etc. The cost of these solutions range from Rs 2500 to Rs 1 lac p.a depending on the type of business and the solution provided to the SME,” explains Vishal. So on one hand the service provider services customers and on the other receives services from mycity4kids.
As on date close to 1,500 paid businesses are availing various B2B services provided by the website. Additionally the website has been able to list 50,000 service providers spread across 6 cities and Vishal says they could attract more than a million parents since last year. “Being the first movers in this space, a lot of our marketing efforts has been driven by word of mouth and partnerships which have come at zero cost. In addition, we have focused on being present when parents are searching for any kids-related service, through Adwords and SEO. Our belief is that once parents visit mycity4kids, they will come back again, we have a 35% repeat rate,” claims Vishal proudly.
Over the last 2 years, Mycity4kids has expanded its offerings, added new employees and partnered with thousands of businesses to act as the one-stop information source for kids. Every service provider or business on the website is spoken to and profiled by the team with utmost care. In addition, the local editors also put a ‘Top things to do’ every week in all the cities which is a curated list. Apart from this parents are free to post reviews either textual or video – to share their experiences with other parents about the service and the provider. They currently have more than 1,500 video reviews on the website. Today the team has 50 members spread across Gurgaon and Bengaluru with sales team present in 6 cities.
“Having achieved financial break-even on a direct cost basis in Delhi and Bangalore a couple of months back, we are confident of our business model and are now in the process of scaling it up. Our plan therefore is to be present in the top-16 cities in India and 1 international city by the end of FY14. We are currently in the process of raising funds for the same,” says Vishal.