On the up · 17 August 2018

ClassForKids CEO designed a system to save both parents and businesses hours of time

Nikki Th’ng, co-founder of ClassForKids

ClassForKids, is a secure, cutting-edge online booking and payment system for children’s activities. Nikki Th’ng, CEO and co-founder of the business, says it’s popular with parents model has attracted some top investors.

What is your business?

By using any device, parents can quickly organise, book and pay for their child’s clubs and classes all in one place and at the touch of a button. Children’s activity providers can also access the platform on the go, via any device to professionally run and manage their business online.

From taking bookings and payments, to communicating with parents (via accurate automated messaging), to issuing invoices, managing registrations, class schedules and waiting lists, ClassForKids helps to speed up the payment process while providing full financial reporting to help businesses grow with confidence.

Where did the concept come from?

The idea came from a ‘chance remark’ that I overheard in a local park back in 2013. My partner Lisa was talking with a friend about the difficulties of finding kids classes in the local area.

It took me back to my sports coaching days, when I was a tennis coach. Noticeboards, word of mouth and newspapers were the promotional norm and paper registration forms and payment by cheque was also common.

My immediate thought was – ‘Has this industry really not moved on since Icame away from it six years ago? There must be an easier way to do this?’ Within a year I had secured funding to begin building the solution.

How did you fund your business?

Private investment from a range of sources (profit from FACE my previous business and Business Angels).

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?

I hated computers when I was younger! Launching from an idea to a real technology business was a huge challenge.

Having a young family and an existing business meant that at the same time as raising investment for my new idea I was selling my existing business whilst juggling family life. I really didn’t have any experience in software, so the learning curve was very steep.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Becoming the youngest racquets manager at Esporta, devising and starting up FACE in 2007 my previous business (a mobile car repair and valeting specialist) and then eventually selling for a profit. Finally,starting ClassForKids and offering a tech-led solution to kids activity owners.

What marketing strategies have you used?

I’m a big believer in testing assumptions early. As we were deciding on product direction we actually ran a series of campaigns to test demand before we had even built anything.

We created a lot of buzz and the huge response helped us to build the right solution and also gave us a captive audience when we did actually launch the first version of the product.

We use social media quite successfully and love to share updates on our staff and our culture. Unsurprisingly, we find we get a lot more engagement by sharing real stories than we do from just talking about our product benefits.

In five years’ time, I’ll be…

Running ClassForKids – a global marketplace for kids’ activities.

Who are your business heroes and why?

Coming from a sporting background my heroes tend to be more from the world of football and tennis than business.

Alex Ferguson would be my favourite sporting manager and I’m sure would have been an asset to any business. His direct approach, being able to get the best out of all staff and track record of success is incredible.

I do read as much as I can and closely follow the wider tech scene to look for inspiration and ideas. I feed off success stories like the Netflix company culture, Intercom reinventing live chat, and Stripe’s disruption in the payment space.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

You will have invested a lot of energy just to get your idea off the ground but really that is just the start of the journey. Building a team, creating and maintaining the culture, while growing the revenues is the next challenge.

In reality everything is open and you will be judged on the decisions you make regardless of the initial plan so confidence and relentless passion is a must!

What’s your favourite way to spend downtime?

Wine, Jacuzzis, tennis, and spending time with my family……not always at the same time!

Last series you binge watched?

Mad Men

What three things can’t you live without?

Work, family and a glass of good wine… the order varies!

What app do you use the most?

Met-Office weather app. I think most people in Scotland check in on this daily in the futile hope of a sunny forecast for the weekend!

Also Trainline… I don’t really know why as the train times have never changed since I started getting the train four years ago. I think it was Einstein who said ‘I never bother to remember anything I can look up in a book.’ and that would be the only tenuous similarity between us that I would ever suggest.

Finally, Slack…at work this is our main communication channel, and we share everything from meeting notes and ideas to jokes and banter.

What song is always on your playlist?

Probably one of the classic Oasis songs or Radiohead. My music taste pretty much stalled at age 19 so I’m more than happy for our staff to take control of the playlist in the office.

 

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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