By: MARIE SZANISZLO
Having children can be both an enormous blessing and, as Kimberly Thompson discovered after she had identical twin girls in January 2014, a minor curse. Before then, Thompson and her husband, Panos Panay, used to go out to dinner at least once a week when they weren’t working on their startup, Sonicbids, which connects bands to promoters. But after they sold the company in 2013 and the girls came along, “it was like somebody ripped the rug out from under me,” the 41-year-old Watertown mother said. “In the first six months, I think my husband and I went out to dinner once. Spontaneity just went right out the window. If we wanted to go anywhere, we had to do a lot of planning.”
It wasn’t until last December that the idea for a different kind of childcare — PopUp Childcare — came to her while she was running a half-marathon in Gloucester and her husband was watching the twins.
Two weeks later, she registered the domain name, and in January, she began working on PopUp Childcare in earnest after bouncing the idea off many of her friends who have children.
Thompson plans to open her first “PopUp” this fall at the Arsenal Project, a Watertown mall where people will be able to drop off their children while they shop.
The 3,000-square-foot space will have reading nooks and areas for structured play, arts and crafts, and other activities for toddlers to 12-year-olds.
Thompson, who recently was named a finalist in the MassChallenge startup accelerator, is just beginning to hire childcare providers, who must be at least 21 years old, with prior childcare experience or credit course work in child growth and development.
Candidates must submit their resume and go through an in-person interview, as well as reference and criminal background checks, and be certified in first aid and CPR.
Thompson envisions opening PopUps at events such as marathons and weddings, as well as hotels, convention centers and movie theaters.
“They’ll pop up, as needed, and then come down,” she said.
Beginning this fall, parents will be able to go to popupchildcare.com, search or receive notifications for nearby PopUps, then book a slot and drop their kids off.
In the future, the company will have an app that will be somewhat similar to the ridesharing company Uber, allowing parents to instantly find out where the nearest PopUp is.