It’s not always easy to leave behind a career to follow your passion, especially when you have two kids. But when you have an idea as innovative and valuable as Lauren Pohl’s, then the sacrifice is worth it.
Lauren Pohl is the CEO and founder of the website Kidz Central Station, a parents’ go-to guide to finding and enrolling children into close to 10,000 activities offered throughout New York City. Pohl, who started her career as a corporate lawyer at a large firm, understands the struggle of being a working parent in NYC.
Four years ago while on maternity leave with her second child, Pohl began searching for cooking classes for her eldest daughter, Lucy. But instead of finding an engaging class, Pohl was left frustrated and overwhelmed at the prolonged process. She had limited time and a busy schedule. Yet instead of throwing in the towel, she saw an opportunity to solve the problem that she, and so many other parents, were facing at the time: Easily locating stimulating and fun activities for their children.
“I thought: ‘Why isn’t there something like OpenTable, but for the kid’s activity market?’” Pohl recalls.
Out of fear of sitting at the same desk at age 40 as she did when she was 25, and reading about the person who developed an exact idea she had once thought of, Pohl decided to quit her job, take the risk, and create a start-up.
Kidz Central Station is shaped as a centralized website that allows every parent, from the super-busy parent who is always working to the stay-at-home parent on a budget, to search for an activity by type, price, age, and day/time of day. In addition, they can compare options, read reviews, and directly book if they choose. Activities range from traditional favorites like soccer to more creative activities like chocolate making classes.
“The website was custom built from our ideas,” Pohl says. “We have a Google-like function coupled with a booking mechanism, which is what distinguishes us from most of the sites out there now.”
The brains and muscle behind Kidz Central Station involve a small staff that not only keep the website running, but are all parents as well, and share the same drive as Pohl to provide a service that makes their lives a little easier.
Although every role within the company contributes to the success of Kidz Central Station, the website developer/CTO carries the bulk of the responsibility as they are constantly adding new features and improving the technology. “If I got hit by a bus, the company will continue, but if Aaron, our developer, got hit by a bus we would be in big trouble,” she explains.
Pohl understands that technology is constant and rapidly changing, and Kidz Central Station is keeping up with the times: “We are in the process of building an app,” she says. She is also in the process of scaling the business and venturing into new markets. “Last year we launched a site in the United Kingdom called Kidz Central UK,” she adds.
Balancing being a good mother to her kids and running a start-up business has been taxing, but she wouldn’t change a thing. “I would have to be a lawyer again, so giving up is not an option,” she says with a laugh.
Although Pohl can’t always devote 100 percent of her time to her kids, both 7-year-old Lucy and 5-year-old Bryce take pride in their mother’s newest baby. Lauren recalls, “We did a big event at the Plaza Hotel in June, and my daughter was walking around saying: ‘I’m the daughter of the mother.’ She was so excited.”
In the end, Pohl just wants parents to know she understands their challenges. “Not only do I use my own website to schedule my kids’ activities,” she says confidently, “but my children only participate in programs that are on the website.”
Pohl offers a little bit of advice to parents who struggle juggling their career and parenthood: “Take some time for yourself. We live in such a crazy world where everything is instantaneous and often times, we end up making better decisions if we reflect on things.”
We all know that raising a child in New York City can be difficult, especially when you have to juggle planning their activities, going to work, and doing the hundred and one other things on your to-do list. Kidz Central Station makes it easier for families to enjoy the enchanted city where kids can discover, grow, and learn.
To learn more, visit kidzcentralstation.com!