Vishal Gupta, co-founder and MD, mycity4kids.com and a resident of DLF 5, says there has been a rise in the number of high quality and progressively thought out activities for kids.
Parents always want to give the best to their children. Be it enrolling them in the best educational institution to getting them to hobby classes or workshops during vacations, parents are always on a lookout for options to unleash the real talent in their kids. But help is not always at hand and they often have to go that extra mile to find out the best possible options.
To ease the process and help parents unearth the best the city has to offer children in and around the neighbourhood, the portal of mycity4kids.com took shape. From kids’ events and fun family outings to camps and extra-curricular classes and lots more kid stuff, mycity4kids serves as the perfect online marketplace where parents can search for information related to kids services, look for recommendations and buy services online or by availing the cab pick-up service.
What is your perspective on how Gurgaon fares as a city for kids?
Gurgaon has emerged as an exciting city for kids, especially over the past two years. With a largely multinational corporate presence, new Gurgaon has a set of parents who have experienced the best of services for kids abroad and demand equivalent services in India. In response, there has been a significant increase in the number of high quality and progressively thought out activities for children, be it an interesting crafts classes, yoga and spirituality, soprts classes, dance and movement or music for toddlers. This is well-illustrated by the more than 1,500 listings of service providers on mycity4kids.com from Gurgaon alone.
How do you compare Gurgaon, in this regard, to other cities such as it to Delhi or Bengaluru?
Gurgaon scores as well as Delhi or Bengaluru as far as children’s activities are concerned. In fact, a lot of times we find a concentration of the most sought-after events and workshops in Gurgaon, much to the dismay of our Delhi community of parents. Several businesses with established centres in Delhi have expanded to Gurgaon to meet the demand here and most of the national level businesses also have a presence here. This is apart from a lot of activities exclusive to Gurgaon that were started by experts who found a huge gap in the kid’s space.
What are the various recreational avenues available to children in and around DLF 5?
Children in DLF have plenty of options in almost all areas of recreation. Take fitness for example that has several expert instructors for yoga and gymnastics. There are options in sports too where DLF 5 has some of topnotch tennis academies like Mahesh Bhupathi’s Tennis Academy. To learn music and dance, DLF has some of the best schools including Mozartsy that has a wonderful programme for toddlers and babies. Kids who are inclined towards cooking will have no complaints either, with so many classes in baking and cooking different cuisines happening almost throughout the year. Another new concept that is catching on fast is that of toy libraries and DLF has several options here also. Another example of an unusual activity centre, Mogly’s Gurukul where kids, even toddlers, can come for an understanding of spirituality and religion, all through fun and games.
What are the possibilities of growth that you foresee in this space for India, when compared other countries?
With 350 million school-going children and 70 per cent population being less than 30 years old, we foresee a tremendous growth in the kids’ services space over the forseeable future. The `15,000 crore kids’ services market includes after-school activities (hobbies, sports, and tuitions), daycare and playschools, recreation and entertainment (birthday providers, camps, fun places to go), health and wellness and where to shop. We believe underlying factors which will continue to drive market growth are:
• Working parents leading to higher income, less ‘supervised’ time
• New thrust on ‘all-round development’ vis-à-vis only academics
• Urban migration and loss of ‘roots’ leading to shortcomings in the traditional ‘word-of-mouth’
Who first conceptualised this unique venture and when? What made you choose the kids’ space?
The website, mycity4kids, was conceptualised and co-founded by Prashant Sinha, Asif Mohamed and me. I completed
my PG from IIM Bangalore and then spent 13-odd years in Asian Paints, HUL and Aviva across sales and marketing.
Having conceptualised the ‘Education is Insurance’ brand idea and being a fatherto two kids, I discovered an area I feel passionately for — the child space — while being at Aviva. Excited at the prospect of chasing a dream, I traded in my director marketing assignment to plunge into entrepreneurship with mycity4kids.
Prashant and I worked together at Aviva for more than four years while Asif was introduced through a common friend. We met in April 2010 and discovered that other than having complementary skills, we also shared
the same passion and values which has stood us in good stead thus far.
Being a father to two young boys, I felt the pressing need for a reliable one-stop source for all kids-related services that were user friendly and effective. The kids’ services space is underserved and largely fragmented.
We spotted a huge market gap and started mycity4kids as an online marketplace and information source for all kids’ services.Founded with the vision ‘about your child, around your home’. mycity4kids.com unearths the best each city has to offer kids in and around their neighbourhood – from kids events and fun family outings to a comprehensive
listing of services for children.
How has been the response since the period it was launched?
The response has been quite encouraging. With more than a million visitors in 2012 (10,000 visitors to our website on an average daily basis currently) and close to 50,000 service providers listed on the portal, mycity4kids is the only online marketplace for kids-related services where parents can search for information and look for recommendations. About 35 per cent parents are repeat visitors which is a good reflection of utility they derive
Our revenue model is based on providing a SAAS solution to SME’s and on that front too, we’ve received an overwhelming response with over 1,500 paying businesses signing up with us over the last 6 months.
What has been your marketing strategy for the website? How have you publicised the same or do you believe in word-of mouth publicity?
Being the first movers in the space, a lot of our marketing efforts have been driven by word-of-mouth and partnerships which have come at zero cost. In addition, we have focussed on being present when parents are
searching for any kid-related service through Adwords and SEO. Our belief is that once parents visit mycity4kids, they will come back again as evidenced by our 35 per cent repeat rate.
As you promote the website as a one stop- destination for all information on children, how do you ensure that
only quality products and services are listed? How do you go about gathering information?
We list only kids’ service providers and not products. We have sales teams present across the six cities we operate in currently – Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. We have our own offices in Gurgaon and Bengaluru.
A lot of the service providers reach us on their own and we also have a stringent process of data collection and profiling before any information is carried on our website.
You are present in Delhi-NCR and five other cities in India. Plans to move to other cities in near future?
Over the next one year, we plan to be present in the top 16 cities in India along with one international city.
That you are in kid space even though on an online medium, how do you rate the services available for these juniors
Overall, the quality of kids’ services in India is pretty good given the nature of competition among organised players. However, since there is a significant presence of unorganised players in a highly fragmented market, quality is not uniform across the country. To make decision-making easier for parents, we provide them the ability to compare different service providers on a standardised set of parameters.
We also provide video reviews by parents who have used the services. Hence, ambiguity about quality of service is reduced to a considerable extent. Going forward, we think quality of service and variety of offerings will only improve.