By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
We’re all familiar with Grand Central and Penn but there’s one station that every metro mama needs to know about and that’s http://www.kidzcentralstation.com. Kidz Central Station is a mom’s online dream destination when sorting through the myriad of children’s activities offered throughout the city and Tri-State area. If you’re a devoted fan of OpenTable.com or MenuPages.com, you’ll totally appreciate the genius of Kidz Central Station.
Need to find a cooking class on the Upper East Side at 4pm on a Tuesday? Looking to foster your toddler’s artistic tendencies on Friday mornings? Want to sign your 2nd grader up for gymnastics camp during Spring Break but don’t want to spend a gabillion dollars? With KidzCentralStation.com, this potentially frustrating, overwhelming and time consuming process just got MUCH easier. And we have its founder, Lauren Pohl, to thank. Now busy moms can discover new and unique classes for their children, read reviews and register all in one place. Read on to find out more about this month’s metro-mompreneur and how KidzCentralStation.com was born.
BN: Write your bio in 5 sentences or less (i.e. where’d you grow up?, where’d you go to school?, job before kids?, how many kids?, where do you live now? Hobbies? etc.)
LP: I’m a recovering lawyer and loving it! I grew up outside of NYC, went to Cornell University and NYU Law School and am the mother of a 2 year old boy and a girl who is “4 and ¾” as she proudly tells people. I was a corporate lawyer at a large NYC law firm for a number of years and was always inspired by clients who built their own businesses. I loved hearing their stories as well as the stories of other entrepreneurs. In my non-existent spare time I love running in Central Park and walking all over NYC.
BN: What inspired you to start your own business? How did it all begin?
LP: I started Kidz Central Station after becoming frustrated with the time consuming process of finding and enrolling in kids’ classes in NYC. Specifically, I was looking for a cooking class for my daughter and tried googling “kids cooking classes” and instead found tons of adult classes. I asked friends for suggestions and walked around my neighborhood to see if there were any cooking schools for kids. I became frustrated as I use technology for so many aspects of my life as a mother (e.g. buying diapers at diapers.com, making a dinner reservation at OpenTable and sharing photos on Facebook) yet there was no comparable service for discovering, comparing and enrolling in kids’ classes, camps and other activities. I knew that there were so many amazing options for different kinds of classes and activities here in NYC for kids and there needed to be an easy way for busy parents to learn about them using technology. Many of these activity providers are small businesses and likely would benefit from a cost effective way to connect with NYC parents. We built Kidz Central Station so that parents could go to one site and learn about all the different activity options available for kids by searching with filters that are important to them such as age, price, location, type of class and schedule and to directly enroll if they so desire.
BN: What challenges did you face when starting your business?
LP: The biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance the excitement and energy I had for growing Kidz Central Station with making sure I spent good quality time with my young children. Finding my “work” to be interesting and enjoyable was new to me and I had so many things I wanted to do to make Kidz Central Station a useful platform for both parents and activity providers. I also had for the first time in my career the flexibility in my schedule to spend time with my family. It was challenging to find enough time to do both well.
BN: What are some of your favorite activities to do with your kids (in or around NYC)?
LP: We love seeing theater performances for young kids like the Galli Theater’s fairy tale productions and then finding a nearby playground. We also love exploring different restaurants all over NYC that serve pizza, as pizza is one of the few foods that both of my kids will (happily) eat. I really enjoy going to music class with my kids because it is a class that they can take together and watching them interact together and with other kids is great fun.
BN: You’re on a desert island…with your kids – name 5 must-have items you’ll want with you.
LP: In no particular order: water, sunscreen, good shoes for all, wipes, and Mallomars. I really hope my cell phone charger wouldn’t make it as I think it is super important to spend time with my kids without the phone or access to email.
BN: What are your goals for the future of your company (realistic or in your wildest dreams)?
LP: We have received really great feedback from both parents and class providers and our goal is for Kidz Central Station to expand to other cities as well as nearby suburbs. It would be terrific if in 10+ years the winner of the US Open said she took her first tennis class at a young age and her parents found it on Kidz Central Station or if the inventor of some great new technology found her first coding class on Kidz Central Station.
Thanks for chatting, Lauren! Here’s hoping metro mamas in every town and city across the country can make a stop at Kidz Central Station.