Startup Spotlight: Munchkin Fun Classes

 

Munchkin Fun Classes

Headquarters: Miami; the company is currently incubating at Venture Hive.

Concept: Munchkin Fun functions like a curated TicketMaster for kids programming — the single place to find, enroll in and pay for kids classes and camps that have been screened by parents. “We personally visit every program in our network and only include those we’d send our own kids to,” said founder Valerie Schimel. “Parents want the best for their children and an easy way to get it — we deliver both.”

Story: Schimel works full-time and has three girls under five — she thrives on efficiency. Yet, finding quality family programming was a constant challenge. In 2010, Munchkin Fun launched a kids calendar that lists over 500 events and activities weekly. The calendar reaches more than 25,000 families weekly and provides content to NBC Miami, Miami.com and WPBT. In 2013, Schimel’s last unanswered voicemail about soccer pushed Munchkin Fun into class registration.

“Parents want to spend time enjoying their kids, not scheduling them,” said Schimel. “Finding and signing up for the best music class in your neighborhood should be as easy as buying a movie ticket online. It is now.”

Launched: June 2013

Management team: Valerie Schimel (CEO/founder), Aleesa Adams (VP operations), Molly Blanco (VP development)

No. of employees: 4

Financing: $230,000 seed round from friends and family.

Recent milestones reached: In June, MunchkinFunClasses.com went live, made its first round of sales and already has added nearly 50 partnering businesses to its network, including Actors’ Playhouse, Gymboree, My Gym, Play-In and Soccer Shots. The company has generated more than $2,500 in partner revenue.

Biggest startup challenge: Marketing. Parents and businesses are very enthused and loyal – once they find Munchkin Fun. “We need every mom, dad and grandparent in town to sign up for our newsletter at munchkinfun.com/newsletter,” Schimel said.

Next step: Increase the South Florida footprint. Munchkin Fun plans to saturate the Miami market this year and expand to Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton by early 2014. The company is about to close production on its first signature programming guide.

Mentor’s advice: Guerrilla PR is the most effective way to get the word out, said Dennis Scholl, VP/Arts for the Knight Foundation. Scholl, who has been involved in 10 startups, has been mentoring Schimel since Munchkin Fun was merely an idea. “People will be interested in her business but they are more interested in who she is — a mom entrepreneur. She has to be the face of the company. She has to put herself out there.”

They have spent a lot of time talking about ramp-up. “Her biggest challenge is not going to be being successful in South Florida, ... it will be her second and third locations,” Scholl said. But he’s confident, citing her razor focus on execution. “She is generating loyal customers. Her beta works. It’s a marketplace that she is personally invested in... This is her baby — she will make it sing.”

Website: munchkinfunclasses.com

Nancy Dahlberg

To have your company considered for Startup Spotlight, email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com. Read past Startup Spotlights on the Starting Gate nlog -- click on the Startup Spotlight category..

Read more Business Monday stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Marcell Haywood

    BUSINESS MONDAY CEO ROUNDTABLE

    Taxi alternatives could improve service

    Today marks the launch of the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable, comprising more than two dozen CEOs and senior executives in companies large and small from the region’s key industries. The goal: To provide a temperature check of local economic conditions and business opinions on current topics. Look for a selection of responses each week in print; to see all responses, go online at MiamiHerald.com/business. And keep an eye out for our live CEO Roundtable event later this fall.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">FSU LINE:</span> Pictured is Guy Harvey artwork on an athletic clothing line. Artist Guy Harvey has developed his brand into a business empire.

    ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    Guy Harvey fishing new waters

    With more products, a new generation of fans and marketing that focuses on the man behind the brand, marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey is stretching his cast.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">WAITING ROOM:</span> A horse waits in the stalls at Thebas Farm, one of a group of Polo horses heading for Amsterdam. Worldwide Livestock, owned by Alex and Tony Alessandrini, is overseeing the shipment of the animals. July 1, 2014 in Miami.

    Company profile

    Worldwide Livestock Services manages import, export of livestock through MIA

    Horses, cattle, pigs and more: World Livestock Services has carefully shipped four-legged creatures and flocks of birds through Miami International Airport to points throughout the globe.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category