KidHop, an online activity-booking platform, launches this month. Co-founder Zoe Fung tells Expat Parent what it’s all about.
So what’s the big idea?
We want parents to have flexibility and choice when it comes to their children’s activities. We have over 50 providers (and growing!) on Hong Kong Island that will eventually provide hundreds of activity and learning options each week where parents can reserve a seat as late as six hours before the class starts. On top of that, because we want KidHop to be a real community, we will also bring different community events like carnivals, expert talks, kids parties and more to our members. This is all included in their monthly membership.
How did the idea come about?
Myself and some other mums were discussing how expensive first-time registration fees could be and also how restrictive make-up classes and refund policies were. We want our children to try new experiences but young children are unpredictable in their schedules and interest levels. When they miss their nap time, get sick, have an uncontrolled schedule change, or somehow suddenly lose interest, parents waste money on classes they have paid for since most education and activity centres require pre-payment of many lessons with a fixed schedule. KidHop was created to help parents solve these problems while also giving their children a full range of experiences to try out.
How long has it taken to come to fruition?
The idea was formed last autumn, but we spent over half a year trying to build the website and app while signing up providers.
What challenges did you face?
The technology side is always a work in progress. Most of us at KidHop don’t have an IT-heavy background. We describe and try to lay out what we want, but then we have to work with our IT firm to figure out how to make that happen. You end up realising quickly that features which seemed quite simple have many layers that need to be carefully crafted. Otherwise different functions run into each other.
On the provider side, it’s getting the door open. Once providers hear our pitch they tend to be quite positive. But there’s a lot of cold-emailing and cold-calling with providers until they give us the chance to meet in person to explain what KidHop is and how we can both help one another. Many providers biggest challenge is getting children and parents to try their classes, which is exactly where KidHop can step in – it introduces hundreds – eventually thousands – of new parents interested in their business.
The next challenge will be users. We have the platform and providers, now we just need users on our site to start registering for the classes. It is very much a cycle where more users will lead to more listings by providers which will lead to more users and so on. So now we need to kickstart the user base so that they can help each other grow.
Ever been involved in something like this before?
I have always aspired to be an event planner, especially weddings, so while this isn’t exactly the same thing, I do enjoy the process of building a KidHop community through planning fun events for both parents and kids.
Anything you would have done differently with hindsight?
Yes, there will always be lots of small details we could have done better if we had a second try. So far though, we all feel pretty good about what we were able to do with our first try.
How are you promoting the business?
We’re hoping the quality of the product, the quantity of providers plus the many special events we provide for our members will get Hong Kong parents talking. In terms of traditional advertising we mostly go through Facebook and mom groups. Of course we are trying offline and online advertising, but they are expensive so we try to be careful with where and how we spend.
What’s the next step?
Once we’re up and running successfully in Hong Kong, we’re wondering where else can we take this. We imagine parents on vacation in Singapore or Shanghai, for example, being able to use their KidHop membership to give their kids new experiences on holiday.
Find out more at www.kidhop.com