Today we’d like to introduce you to Kara Trim and Teresa Ish.
Kara and Teresa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Teresa: When our oldest kids left the year around care of daycare, and we realized how much of the school year kids are not in school, and yet, for some reason, our bosses didn’t let us skip out on work! And oh my goodness, it’s only early December and we’re already starting to plan our summers.
Kara: Searching for camps that worked for our schedules, our commutes, that interested our kids and allowed them to be with friends was a huge challenge, and then to add the cost of top of that! It was taking us hours to figure out something that worked.
Teresa: We looked around at our friends, professional women with busy lives, we saw that we had yet another task to add to our mental load. It was just one more logistical issue we had to deal with to make sure our kids were cared for and enriched when they weren’t in school. We knew it had to be easier, and the idea of Camp Sidekick was born.
Kara: We are quite privileged. We had jobs that were flexible enough that we could occasionally leave work at 4:30 to pick kids up at a camp that ended at 5, we had reliable transportation that let us go a little bit out of the way to get them to the camp they wanted, and most importantly, we could afford to pay for a full summer of camp. As we thought about who would use a site like Camp Sidekick, we quickly realized that we could use Camp Sidekick to provide a valuable service to families who weren’t in the same position that we were in.
Teresa: The summer slide impacts kids who don’t have access to enrichment over the summer. They lose months of academic progress, putting them further behind their peers every year. So summer camps needed to be affordable, accessible and work with inflexible work schedules to ensure that no kids were disadvantaged because they didn’t have access to great summer camps.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Kara: Our two biggest challenges are the tech and the financing. Neither of us have run online platforms before, and getting the search and database right are going to be key to offering families the level of service we want to provide. Also, every camp manages its registration process differently, making it harder to streamline registration once someone has found the camps that work.
Teresa: Yeah, it kills me that I have to enter in my kids’ doctor’s information every single time. It’s also been a challenge convincing investors that a platform like this solves an important problem. Most of the investors we’ve spoken to are men, and in most cases, it’s women who are doing the emotional labor of managing summer camps. I just don’t think the investors realize how much time it takes to manage all the school days off, and how desperate most moms are to offload this task.
Kara: Every time we talk to the parent that takes on this responsibility, the response is overwhelmingly positive, so we know that we’ve got a strong user base.
Teresa: I really struggle with making time for CampSidekick. I’m the primary wage earner in my house, I manage projects in three countries all on top of having a family, it’s not easy. I started a non-profit with a friend when I was in my 20’s, and it’s just so different being an entrepreneur this time around. I’m so appreciative that I have Kara to do this with.
Kara: I left my full-time job in January of 2019, and it’s really allowed us to start building the business. I now have time to build our social media presence, work on populating our camp database, and perform outreach to camps. We are slowly starting to see some traction.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Camp Sidekick – what should we know?
Kara: I think three things set us apart from other businesses, a detailed, flexible camp search, our narrow focus on school days off camps, and our social impact. We are focused on building a camp search with the flexibility to meet a range of needs and serve all families.
Teresa: We exclusively focus on camps because camps provide childcare and a learning environment. Kids activities are great, and my kids are enrolled in several, but a 2 hour long class or practice doesn’t allow parents to work full time. For us, it’s not only about providing great experiences for kids but also ensuring parents can go to work, provide for their family and know their children are in a safe, supportive, and education environment. Most children in Colorado live in households where both parents work so it is essential that child care continues to work for families when those kids enter school.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Kara: Our biggest supporters have been our friends and families. Without them, we definitely would have given up a few times but they gave us encouragement when we needed it and support to pursue this. It also really helps to have a co-founder. Someone else who understands the challenges and you can bounce ideas off of without judgment.
Teresa: I also want to give a shout out to all the people that run and staff summer camps. They’ve got to manage a business, as well as meeting the needs of kids and families. If they didn’t exist, we’d really be in trouble.
- Searching for camps is free ($0)
- We offer planning services that range from $25 to $65
- Website: www.campsidekick.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/campsidekick/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CampSidekickCO
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/SidekickCamp
Washington Street Community Center (all group shots)