Like many companies, the concept for PodKeeper came about because the alternative – group “reply-all” emails in this case – was not meeting people’s needs adequately. Steven Sacks tells StartCharlotte how it happened.
Nikki Sacks, who co-founded the company with her husband Steven, was helping her son’s preschool class plan a party when she first encountered the flurry of back-and-forth emails related to classroom and extracurricular activities.
“The email chains were meant to help communication but they just made things worse,” Steven Sacks said. “Nikki realized ‘If all of this is one child’s class event, what will happen when he gets older and there are more events?’”
PodKeeper, a family organizer and group calendar app , serves to replace inefficient group emails. Parents — the company’s main target — create a “Pod” for each of the groups in their lives, such as their kid’s sports teams, classrooms, PTAs, scout troops, and more. In the Pod they can keep all the group members up-to-date, have conversations, organize a group calendar, create and RSVP to events, share files and make sign-up lists — all in one centralized location.
The target audience for PodKeeper is parents with children ages 3 to 15. There are 80 million parents that fit this demographic in the United States, 25 percent of the overall population. PodKeeper is currently in all 50 states and several countries. The 50th state, Alaska, was just added, with thanks to the efforts of PodKeeper’s first Kid on a Mission video series.. Watch the videos here.
“Even though we live in a world with lots of communication tools, there wasn’t one encompassing option that addressed parents’ specific needs,” Steven noted. “That being said, PodKeeper is so easy to use that we’ve seen it used for church groups, sororities, fraternities and more.”
Steven’s background is in product development, in both startup organizations and large corporations. Most recently he worked on the innovation team at Bank of America. He also coaches his son’s soccer team, and has shared Nikki’s frustrations with trying to communicate multiple topics in an email chain with too many people.
“We are the right team to build this,” he said. “I’ve been building online products for all of my career, and I know how important it is to create meaningful relationships with customers so we can actively address feedback and tailor the product to their specific needs.”
Right now, the PodKeeper team is small – just Steven, Nikki and two part-time technical developers, and they have been entirely self-funded to date. Steven said that starting small was the right move for the team, but they have plans to expand once they secure funding. Their capital raise begins this month.
The team built the PodKeeper platform out of RevTech Labs, a three-month program at HQ Charlotte that helps early-stage mobile, software and web startups. This past spring, they were one of 11 finalists for a NC Idea grant and the only one from Charlotte.
Through HQ Charlotte and RevTech, Steven and Nikki are both involved in the startup community in Charlotte and believe the city is a great place to launch a tech startup.
“People here are very accessible and open to sharing their experience and advice. It’s a friendly entrepreneurial environment,” he said. Steven acknowledges the work Charlotte has to do to keep up with other cities, adding “there’s a disconnect between the startup ecosystem and the people of Charlotte: that the people of Charlotte aren’t aware of the specific companies and what problems they solve for consumers and businesses. It’s my wish that both large companies in Charlotte and the city government help to put a spotlight on specific startups to help promote them.”
To learn more about PodKeeper, check out their website.