When Sophia Chang couldn’t keep up the tons of school notices and emails, she started her own club to make managing her kids’ school activities easier for herself…and parents everywhere. It’s called the Qlubb, and here’s how it can help you tackle all those to-dos.
Sophia, what is your background?
I’m an engineer by schooling. I worked in investment banking in NYC for several years. It was great fun, but at heart I’m an entrepreneur. In the early 2000’s, I came out to California to a do start up. Part of being an entrepreneur and an engineer is that I like to do stuff with my hands. But then we had kids, and very quickly I got caught up in the world of PTA’s and school boards.
I realized how old school some of the ways the parents were communicating. As a working parent, I can’t go through 30 emails, and I can’t be at school to find the sign-up sheet. I was on the board at preschool and I was also a room parent. I found that parents were embracing technology more, so two years ago, we started Qlubb, a bulletin board for parent groups. It’s worked great for my kids’ girl scouts groups and PTA’s.
How did you take it from something you were doing on a local level to a more national level?
It was serendipity. We were doing a nanny share, and the guy we were sharing with was an amazing technologist. I have a tech background, so between the two of us, we architected the system. We built the prototype quickly, and tested it out in the school. I got angel funding for the idea in 2008, and then we were able to grow out the team. Today, Qlubb has 75,000 parent leaders using it. It’s been mostly word of mouth.We roll out a new version every couple of weeks. Every six months we roll out a larger product. Most of our success has been to grass roots marketing efforts.
How did the name come to be?
At the time, everything was taken. We had to make it a short name. Since every Qlubb has its own URL, we didn’t want it to be long. Every possible way to spell “club” was taken. We had to launch, and the letter Q was easy, and it was one syllable, and it was available! There was no genius behind it. [laughs]
I like that Qlubb is straight to the point for moms who are doing so much.
For me, between parties and coordinating volunteers, I can’t be at school to sign up. I want to know stuff a day or two before, not a week before, because I’ll forget. I like to have it right then and there. I’m a night owl, so at 2:00 AM, I will check to see what volunteers they’ll need. Everyone’s busier these days, and things slip. You need a place where you can find everything in one spot, and to know that you’ll be reminded when something is coming up.
Let’s talk stats for a second.
Sure, Qlubb has over 75,000 members and 15,000 groups. We get half a million page views a month, and we’re nationwide. We are have a strong presence in coastal regions, but also in places such as Texas, Florida and Georgia, too. We recently created a fundraising platform which is a partnership between merchants and the schools. It’s really exciting because this will create the opportunity for significant fundraising for the schools.
Between Qlubb and your kids, how do you find your balance?
My kids are 8 and 5, and I’m the room parent for the 5 year-old. I’m never off, except that I work 6 hours when they’re at school, and then I make sure the time before school and after school is theirs. Then I work another 3-4 hours, and it works great. Some of development team is off shore in India, so I have to be up to talk to them. I get my 10 hours in, but I have my flexibility.
What does your hubby think of Qlubb?
He’s very proud of me. He’s also very busy, so he doesn’t feel left out. You’re all in the same boat together. I wish I had weekly date nights, but we have monthly Tivo movie nights! Is that bad? [laughs] I think that if I didn’t have something to call my own, it would be hard for me to be a well-balanced parent. My daughter once said to me, “Mommies don’t work. Mommies stay home; they’re not bosses.” It’s very hard. The maniacal part is that I want to be in the classroom, and I feel like I have to do both. I’m a helicopter mom but I’m also a working mom, and you theoretically can’t be both. But you keep trying and you make it work.