Scarsdale Parents Create Website Aimed at Children’s Services
Renee and Josh Levine help foster community between local businesses and parents with the launch of ParentNation
It takes a village to raise a child. This old African proverb is the foundation of new website, ParentNation, founded by Scarsdale couple Renee and Josh Levine. The site is a vigorous online community focused on helping parents find local children’s services that are “mom approved.”
When Renee, a mom of two, was planning a birthday party for one of her daughters, she took to the Internet to find a party venue. One Google search led to another until she grew frustrated that she could not find a website with “subjective experienced feedback from parents,” she says. “Why isn’t there a site focused on kids’ businesses for parents, like there is a TripAdvisor for travelers?” she wondered.
Renee and Josh
She and her husband created their website, ParentNation, from scratch. Renee’s background in marketing helped her design the website with user experience in mind. Josh, the CDO (Chief Dad Officer), has a background in television commercial production, and manages the operational and financial aspects of the site, including corporate development and investor relations. It took about a year to get it up and running.
The website’s capabilities include a combination of those similar to Facebook, Angie’s List, Groupon, and an online forum. The site was created “to help connect local businesses with parents and to help take some of the mystery away from making decisions,” says Levine. It is “grounded on the values of authenticity, genuineness, and reliability,” she adds.
When parents join, they can search for local services, such as children’s daycare centers, hair salons, pediatricians, and learning centers. Members can read and write reviews for businesses, connect with friends and other community members to see what they recommend, and receive special offers. The Levines believe that information about children’s services should be readily available and uncensored.
When researching businesses geared towards children, “parents want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly,” says Levine. ParentNation’s goal is to help parents make better decisions when it comes to their kids while helping them save time. The site’s slogan is, “We’re in this together.”
Membership for individuals is free. The first 100 members per state will be considered founding parents and will receive a badge on their profile page. Local businesses can also join to promote their companies and market themselves to parents. Businesses can join with either a basic membership or a pro membership.
Basic membership is free and offers a simple profile. The pro membership is $9.95 per month and offers an enhanced profile, including the ability to directly communicate with members, special deals, the ability to track activity on a customizable dashboard with analytics, and more. The pro monthly membership fee will be waived if businesses join by the end of the year. Businesses that have already joined include pediatricians, hair salons, party venues, children’s classes, and toy stores.
Since the launch of ParentNation in mid-September, more than 1,000 businesses and members have signed up, with new members joining daily. After spending months designing the website Levine is understandably worn, "like I just had quintuplets," she says.
Overall, the response to the website has been very positive. “As soon as parents see the site, they ‘get it’ and appreciate the purpose it serves — to collect, store and make easily accessible other parents’ experiences with local businesses for their kids — and have been eager to add their own. Local businesses up against the Internet giants have been especially responsive to ParentNation, which serves to highlight their unique benefits and differentiators, and positions them as the local experts within their community,” Levine explains.
The Levines initially plan to focus the website on Westchester and the tri-state area. They eventually intend to expand to other surrounding areas to create an even bigger community, since Levine feels, “parents are universal in their need to save time and wanting the best for their kids.“