Baby Does ... NYC caught up with Josh Milstein, owner and founder of Mommy Nearest and Stephanie Barnhart, a popular parent blogger and one of Mommy Nearest's ambassadors for our app series - by Baby Does NYC, 2013
Josh as CEO of Mommy Nearest what is your business background?
"I have been fascinated by entrepreneurship and start-ups for as long as I can remember. After getting my undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 2010, I spent a year working as a concierge at a hotel on Park Avenue (which, incidentally, was one of the main reasons why we built Mommy Nearest.) Yet, I yearned to do something that was a little more hands-on and build something that I would have control of from start to finish. So shortly after leaving the hospitality industry, I started building my first company, Doormates, which was a web-based app that connected neighbors. While we saw modest success from that endeavor, we shifted our focus towards Mommy Nearest after ~6 months."
Josh Milstein and his team at HQ
What impelled you to create an app aimed at moms?
"The decision to switch gears and build Mommy Nearest came from insights that I acquired over the previous 2 years. While a hotel concierge, I spent a great majority of my day helping families plan their days while out and about in NYC. Information for parents was scattered in magazines and on disorganized websites and it would have been tremendously helpful if I could have recommended a free app like Mommy Nearest to our hotel guests. Also, stemming back from my Doormates days, I noticed that a majority of our active users were parents who were in search of hyper-local information and connections as it related to parenting. Thus, by intersecting learnings from the two, Mommy Nearest was born."
Are you a native New Yorker?
"Yes, I am a native New Yorker and really can't see myself living anywhere else. Growing up, I split time between Westchester and NYC. I did my undergraduate studies at Columbia and have been a permanent Manhattanite ever since"
Parent apps are extremely popular today especially in tech capital NYC. How does Mommy Nearest perform, compared to say your main competitors?
"When we launched Mommy Nearest in April, there was no direct competitor that existed in the market. There was one mobile app based on events for kids, but no app built around resources for parents. Our app now consists of over 10,000 child friendly places, many of which have ratings and reviews from real, local parents.
At the end of the day, since we're in the business of providing information to parents, many of our competitors are websites that do similar things. We think we have a distinct advantage as a mobile app since we know a majority of parents spend a lot of time browsing for information on their mobile devices. Then again, in 2013, we all pretty much live on our phones!"
How have moms transformed the performance level of Mommy Nearest?
"Our community is everything at Mommy Nearest. As an app built for parents, by parents, we try to empower the community to leave real feedback for other parents. We believe very strongly in the power of the collective and so we encourage advice, suggestions and tips from both moms and dads. We think there is a real need for honesty in this space, especially since no one wants to be pushing a double-stroller to a place that might not be suitable for their children."
Stephanie Barnhart and her son Max
Mommy blogger and entrepreneur Stephanie Barnhart is one of Mommy Nearest's 'mommy ambassadors' performing a crucial role in data-mining and info input. Which is a fancy way of saying 'Stephanie fills in the blanks for the rest of us'.
Stephanie - how did you find out about Mommy Nearest?
Funny enough - they found me! i was tweeting about how i was frustrated that i couldn't find changing tables in nyc and they said we can help with that! they even came all the way to Queens to meet me to talk about how the app can help moms. so i've been there to give my opinions since it launched :)
What appealed to you about the app?
it's brilliant - it tells me all the things i don't know, especially as a first time mom. if i am in the city, say for a doctors appointment, and maximo needs a quick run in a park to burn some energy, or we're hungry, i can just pull out the app and see what is in the area since it's location based. i don't know all the neighborhoods of nyc, so it's perfect and quick when you have a fussy baby!
How easy is it to use? How does it work?
super easy - literally just pull it out and it locates you on the map. just like google maps or foursquare or yelp - only for MOMS. you should be using this over all of them!
We know most parents are time-crunched as it is ... do moms really take the time to conduct feedback and reviews on baby-friendly resources?
as a consumer, i only really ever write reviews if it's mind-blowingly awesome or so bad that i feel the world really needs to know. in these cases - trust me i'll take the time. and those are the only ones i want to read anyways! plus, this is word on the street - moms know their stuff - so if there are two bad reviews for a location - let it be known i will never go there. that's powerful and brands/locations should take note!
How can parents find this app?
just go to the app store on your phone and search 'mommynearest!' it's FREE!
Back to Josh - what's ahead for Mommy Nearest?
"We've got some very exciting things on the horizon for Mommy Nearest, including a mobile content strategy that will deliver the latest and greatest news and information directly to the hands of our users. We're working with our team of "Expert Moms" to scour the web for can't miss parenting tips, events, suggestions and much more.
We're also piloting a program with retailers and class providers to provide relevant, hyper-local deals and discounts for our users. Recently, we've partnered with Spirit Halloween to give our users 20% discounts on Halloween costumes and will be doing more of that in the coming weeks. If you have an earlier version of our app installed, be sure to update it so you don't miss out on the fun!"
Got a parent or City app you love?