Business partners Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt established MyKidsTime.ie three years ago, to provide parents with information on children’s clubs and classes in their locality as well as family-friendly places to stay and attractions to visit.
Initially launched in the Galway area on a pilot basis, the site has since grown to include localised versions for Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Wexford, Clare, Sligo, Meath and Cavan.
Holtz and Davitt work with a technical officer to run the centralised functions, while all the local sites are handled by semi-independent managers, who build relationships with parents and providers in their area.
‘‘We ran some advertising in September 2009, saying we were seeking people, and we have a link on the site for people who are interested,’’ Holtz said.
‘‘It does not have to be people with kids, but parents tend to appreciate the flexibility involved and also know what other parents are looking for.
‘‘There was definitely learning from the first two or three sites that we launched, but once we put into place the system for launching, these have gone very smoothly.
‘‘In MyKidsTime, we focus very much on work-life balance, because everyone on the team has children. There are lots of different software tools and packages available that really help to save time and make things work better.
‘‘Our people use applications where they can share files easily and also use smart phones to do their job as well. This allows the team to work whenever they can, rather than having rigid office hours.’’
Holtz and Davitt funded the company at start-up stage; investment since then has come mainly from revenues generated from the site.
‘‘We did get a small grant from Galway City & County Enterprise Board last year for PCs and software,’’ Holtz said.
‘‘We used a e5,000 innovation voucher from the Enterprise Ireland for a project, which culminated in the use of the Atom browser on our Look & Book section,which was developed by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway and makes browsing of our listings data easier.’’
With little money to spend on marketing the business, the web has proven an invaluable resource for MyKidsTime. Holtz said that informal networking sites like smallbusinesscan.com could also act as a vital source of information and advice for start-ups.
‘‘We have built up a big Facebook presence, which is effectively free,’’ she said. ‘‘We also find that online advertising, such as Google Ads campaigns, works well.
‘‘We hope to bring My KidsTime to the rest of Ireland. We have three more areas coming soon; Kilkenny, Laois and Mayo and we are discussing other areas with possible associates.
‘‘There is always a wishlist for the website, and we will be continuing to innovate and make the site even better for parents.’’