A mother's start-up for parents with young children a winner in pitch contest at Women's Forum Singapore

Ms Sumedha Khoche created a Web platform that caters to parents looking for interesting activities for their children aged up to six years. PHOTO: SIPA PRESS AND LAURYN ISHAK

SINGAPORE - Ms Sumedha Khoche, who had a daughter in 2016, found that there were very few activities or programmes for young children that offer a look-see or trial before parents commit to a package.

A couple she knows paid $500 to enrol their son for art lessons only to find the four-year-old losing interest after three sessions.

"Finding good services and activities was not easy," said Ms Sumedha, 37, who was a regional brand manager at Procter & Gamble.

"Most places that offer a one-off session charge a lot more, so parents often feel compelled to buy the package to save money."

So Ms Sumedha, who also worked for a start-up before setting up her own last October, channelled her frustration into creating a Web platform that caters to parents looking for interesting activities for their children aged up to six years.

KinderPass, as it is called, is subscription-based and offers an on-demand service. For example, parents can search the site for something they can do with their children, say, on a Saturday morning, and book the activity. Parents can also cancel or reschedule an activity.

"We give parents the best of both worlds, flexibility and savings," said Ms Sumedha.

For her brainchild, she was one of the winners on Friday (Sept 14) of the women-led start-up pitch contest organised by Women's Forum Singapore.

She said she intends to develop a mobile app next and expand into India and other Asean countries.

In the contest held at Facebook Singapore, 10 women-led start-ups presented their business venture and expansion plans before a panel of judges.

Said Ms Sandhya Devanathan, one of the judges who is country director of Facebook Singapore: "Every day, we see the amazing ways women entrepreneurs overcome the odds to build businesses on our platform that not only transform their lives, but also have a positive impact on the economy and their communities. When women do better, economies do better."

Four start-ups, including KinderPass, were named winners, with the top prize awarded to Eainchat, a leading digital food media platform in Myanmar.

Co-created by Ms Hsu Hnin Htike, 24, just a year ago, Eainchat offers step-by-step video tutorials on cooking not just Myanmar food but also dishes from other countries. She said she hopes to create a mobile app so that more people can access her videos.

The other two winners are Fast Track Trade, a Singapore-based digital trade platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, and Myanmar start-up My Health Care, which matches people with health concerns to healthcare service providers who answer their questions online.

Ms Clara Gaymard, executive president of the international Women's Forum for the Economy and Society who was on the judging panel, said she was inspired by the women and their projects.

"I am so impressed by the quality of the projects, by their energy, by their courage, by their resilience. They are building the world of tomorrow. They are taking care of others. They are meaningful businesses," she said.

"This is really the spirit of the young women willing to be the drivers of the future."

About 700 delegates from across the world attended the first Women's Forum Singapore, a three-day event which ended on Friday. The Straits Times was a media partner. The Singapore forum is part of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society, which aims to foster women's leadership for social progress and economic impact.

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