Sherry Lombardi and Kerry Bowbliss, Hulafrog, Women Entrepreneurs
Hulafrog is a search engine to find local things to do for kids and more. I have seen a bunch of decks come into my email box about aggregating local things for kids. The idea and concept is a no brainer and it is surprising that it has not been around for years. Outside.in was about creating content for local neighborhoods which might have been a little before its time. I remember almost 18 years ago Fred talking to me about a concept that had been pitched to him that was a mixture of Outside.in meets Hulafrog. My response was way too early. We needed the people who were using computers and technology daily to graduate from college, get married and move to a neighborhood with their family and start creating content. At that point there were not that many people in our age group doing that. Now is the time.
The two entrepreneurs behind Hulafrog met when they moved in two houses from each other in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Both have had an interesting successful career path but as they had children life changed. They met each other and clicked immediately. They began to brainstorm about a product that they wish they had, again women building companies that fill voids in their lives, and hence Hulafrog was born.
Sherry grew up in Sturbridge, Massachsuetts. Her mother was a stay-at-home Mom who came out of the finance world. As the kids got older she went back to get a graduate degree in accounting and finance. Her father was in the engineer and after her parents got divorced her went into the radio business which was something he really wanted to do. He was very creative and entrepreneurial.
After graduating from high school Sherry went off to Syracuse University where she majored in advertising. Someone gave her the advice before graduating to take a job in a big company and learn how to sell. To me, the key to life is all about sales. She took a job with Lexus Nexus. It was just as the internet was starting to become part of our every day life. She stayed three years before going to work at Poppy Tyson which was at the time one of the number one Internet agencies. it was 1996/97. She began as the head of account services and over time took over the NYC office and became a general manager. Think about that only three years after college it was those kind of opportunities that were taking place because it was people in their twenties who understood the power of the Internet.
Sherrys next gig was co-founding her own marketing/analytic company called Primary Knowledge and stayed for two years before she got married and had kids. After having kids she started her own consulting company so she could have more flexibility in her life. She was in the city but they decided to move out to Atlantic Highlands NJ.
Kerry grew up in Bergen County, NJ. Her Mom was a special education teacher. Her father was the media director of J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency. After graduating high school Kerry headed out to Washington University in St. Louis. She decided after two years that instead of going to Florence for her junior year she'd try another school and transferred to William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA where she majored in history and sociology. Two years at each.
Her time abroad was after school where she backpacked through India before moving to the DC area taking a job with the USA Foundation and a natural gas company so she could figure out what she wanted to do. Both companies were small and entrepreneurial. She got her feet wet doing content, marketing and serving the members. I really like that she did this. She wasn't sure what turned her on and the only way to find out is trying different things. In the end she decided to back to school and get her MBA. Before showing up to school she had moved into an internship with an institutional investor. She began calling CEO's and learning so much through them that she realized that this experience was probably better than getting a MBA so she stayed there for four years instead of going to school getting involved in corporate finance, real estate and other parts of the business.
Kerry was recruited by CMP Media to take their financial tech publications on line. It was 1999. She stayed there until she began Hulafrog. She was ready to try something new and Sherry came into her life and everything changed.
They both had big careers, lived in the city and then moved to the suburbs. As they both put it they wanted to be the end user of what they were building. When you have young kids everything you do takes place within 5 miles from your front door. One of the challenges is the content you are looking for such as events, resources, where to have a birthday party, piano lessons, art lessons, ballet lessons, weekend soccer events grows from the original Mommy and Me classes into a continuing pipeline of needed information. Their backgrounds fit perfectly together. They believe that this is a local business with national potential. I am a fan of the local roll-out that can be reproduced nationally at the local level. Surely other communities need this besides their own.
They are both impressive women who are smart, charming and women you want to work with. I just enjoyed talking to both them about their vision and their concept. If you are a parent, be looking for Hulafrog to show up in your community soon.