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venture capitalist for Trilogy Equity Partners in Seattle where she focused on early-stage companies.
In January, Sigby closed on $1.2 million in seed money, including funds from her old firm. Thompson says they offer 5,500 activities on the site and have “thousands of parents signed up” largely through word-of-mouth.
The pain motivating Chang was not at home—she’s newly married and doesn’t have children (yet, she says)—but in her business. A decade ago, she founded Wonder-Space Technology Camp and as it expanded to eight locations nationwide, she found herself paying for a lot of expensive Google ad alerts. “I was spending a lot of time doing marketing and so I came up with Camperoo,” she says.
She still owns the tech camps but has ceded day-to-day controls to a colleague as she gets Camperoo on its feet. Camperoo offers about 1,500 activities for 250 providers currently.
So far, Chang raised $300,000 from personal funds and is currently raising $1 million through friends, families and angels. Last week, the company won third place and crowd favorite at Austin TechCrunch and is now headed to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco where Chang hopes to make a pitch.
“We got a bunch of leads to investors as well as a lot of customer validation,” Chang says.
The business model for both sites is similar. Camperoo lists the activities for free but takes a 12.25 percent cut of the registration fee when a parent enrolls their child in a particular class. Thompson at Sigby declined to detail what portion they receive from their activity providers.
Both women say that activity providers are eager to sign on. “Unlike a lot of places where you create a persistent relationship with your customer base, these customers are constantly matriculating out,” Thompson says. “There’s a constant need to reach new people.”
So, marketplaces like Sigby and Camperoo help with those marketing and sales functions. “We bring them new customers,” Chang says.
The Web has been part of our daily lives for more than a decade now. So, why hasn’t this been done before? Thompson says that’s partly because it’s only recently that the smallest of entrepreneurs—like those offering sports camps or music lessons—have become comfortable with running their businesses online.