Email boxes are flooded with deals for food, shopping and travel, but two new sites want to remove the clutter and boredom to provide kids and couples with ideas for fun activities.
Kidsy.co, which test-launched last month, provides activities for families with children and the ability to organize play dates with your friends or people in your neighborhood. The service is free to users and Kidsy takes commissions from the vendors on the site if a user books an activity. Some of the vendors offer deals specifically to Kidsy users.
The site offers free and paid activities in New York and New Jersey but plans to expand "quickly" to other cities such as, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington.
The co-founders of Kidsy, Michael Tai and Raj Banik, say they are "highly selective" in curating the activities on their site and have partnerships with top Manhattan vendors such as Freshmade NYC and Citibabes. The co-founders, friends from Columbia University, reached out to parents and influential New York City parenting bloggers to find attractive ideas for families.
Tai, whose background is in private equity, said there is too much "clutter" in the online deals marketplace.
"Because we're a targeted vertical, merchants have reached out to us, even though we're relatively new," he said.
Tai said the site already has thousands of users with a high percentage of repeat visitors, although he declined to reveal the site's metrics.
He doesn't have any children, but Tai said he struggled to find activities while babysitting their nieces and nephews.
"You would think because there is so much going on, it would be easy to find activities, but it's the opposite because there is too much going on," he said.
The activities on the site range from the best playgrounds in New York City to particular exhibits ideal for children at the Museum of Natural History.
Elena Mauer, deputy editor of TheBump.com, said Kidsy.co is a great resource for families, especially for new parents who are "exploring a new world."
Kidys.co's targeted demographic is for families with kids younger than 6, although the activities work for a broader age range.
"They don't want to stay cooped up at home," Mauer said of parents. "They want activities their kids will learn from and that will keep them involved, especially before they go to school."
Mauer said some parents might have to warm to the idea of organizing play dates with other users they haven't met, preferring instead to stick to other families in their networks. Kidsy.co does allow users to invite their friends with kids to play dates in addition to the ability to find new acquaintances.
Tai acknowledges parents are "generally very cautious" about potential playmates, but the majority of the parents they interviewed said they would be willing to meet with parents they don't yet know.
Another site that launched this year is HowAboutWe for Couples, which, unlike Kidsy.co, is available to members via paid subscription. Offering date activities for couples, HowAboutWe.com's price is $18 a month after a one-month free trial.
Anybody can get HowAboutWe.com's daily newsletters that advertise date ideas, which include wine-tasting, picnics and beer-making instructions. Members also get free access to the site's concierge service.
"When we first started the company, our central question was, 'How can we create a dating site we'd actually want to use and share with our friends?' Now, our central question is: How can we help people fall in love and stay in love?" said Brian Schechter, co-founder and co-CEO of HowAboutWe, which began serving singles as a dating site nationally, HowAboutWe Dating, in 2010.
Schechter said the site doesn't "try to squeeze margins from our couples or our partners."
"We forge our vendor partnerships based on great date experiences. If we think a vendor could create a wonderful date, we work with them to ensure the quality is high enough to bring to our members. In return, our partners get access to paying customers," he said.
HowAboutWe for Couples is available in New York and just launched in San Francisco.
Schechter hopes to expand across the United States and beyond. The company, based in New York, has 60 full-time employees.
Heather Morgan Shott, site director of The Nest.com, said she subscribes for date ideas with her husband of 10 years. She said they like to "make our dates count" because they keep busy with their 2-year-old.
"Before, we went out five days a week. Now it's every other week," she said. "We like interactive date nights, not just sitting in a movie theater, not interacting."
Morgan Shott said she hasn't tried HowAboutWe's dates yet but enjoys reading their newsletter in her inbox.
"I think it's a creative resource for couples who have been married to come up with new ways to experience the city," said Shott, who lives in New York City.
To our readers: could you or someone you know use ideas for kids' or couples' activities?