Kids Calendar hopes to launch in more cities from Iowa Startup Accelerator
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But McKeon still believes that the 90-day accelerator format - popularized around the world for early-stage companies and practiced at the Iowa Startup Accelerator - can help her company reach the next level.
“The reality is, in the Midwest it’s harder to find resources to scale a business like mine,” McKeon said. “Being part of this program means we can build it a lot faster, and make fewer mistakes, and be more confident that we’re building the thing that people really need.”
Kids calendar launched after McKeon had a career change - striking out on her own after more than a decade of working with private schools. While marketing her services, McKeon found it difficult to connect with local parents in Lawrence, Kan.
She launched the site very simply, with just a Google calendar and a form to submit events. She started sending out a weekly email to parents in her network, and hosted a kids summer fun fair in 2011.
The business took off through word of mouth, and the second summer fun fair attracted more than 500 people.
Kids Calendar hopes to differentiate itself from other local calendars by offering a complete resource guide, and not just events. The focus on kids is another selling point - parents can search for kid-centric things, such as 'what to do with a 9-month-old,' or 'things to do with kids indoors' for a rainy day.
“We want parents to be able to find everything to do in a community,” she said. “We’ve found a way to curate the events and classes, and our resource directory is unique. It helps people find things that Google is not good at producing search results for.”
Kid's calendar generates revenue through premium listings for companies and display advertising.
McKeon added two web developers to her founding team earlier this year, and is saving the $20,000 seed investment from the ISA to start building a custom version of the Kids Calendar once more customer validation interviews have been completed.
In January this year, McKeon launched Kids Calendar sites in four other cities: Topeka, Kan., Lincoln, Neb., Boulder, Colo. and Chattanooga, Tenn. One of her major goals for the ISA is to find a clear and repeatable process for expanding to new cities.
“I could’ve built the Kids Calendar myself, and it would have taken 10 years,” she said. “I didn’t want to wait that long.”[wc_box color="inverse" text_align="left"]One in a series of stories on the Iowa Startup Accelerator's inaugural cohort. Find full coverage of the class of 2014 here. [/wc_box]