As the founder of Pearachute and a mother of two, Desiree Vargas Wrigley is the definition of hardworking. The first of its kind, Pearachute delivers an easy solution for parents seeking children’s classes in their area. Desiree dives into what motivates her and what lies ahead for the company.
What is your business, and what problem you are solving?
Pearachute is a monthly membership club that makes it easy for parents and caregivers to discover, book, and drop into the best kids classes in your city all at the touch of a button. Parents can choose between hundreds of classes each week that their children might enjoy.
We're solving two big problems. Parents of young children want to introduce them to a variety of activities while they're young. But it is unaffordable and unmanageable to have your three-year-old in swimming, soccer, art, and dance. Pearachute brings parents discovery, convenience, and affordability, making it easy for them to explore all of the amazing activities and classes their cities have to offer.
For activity providers, many are passionate founders but do not have the bandwidth or resources to heavily invest in marketing. At the same time, some lose as many as 70% of their customers from season to season because young children (and their parents) want to explore different activities. Pearachute fills open spots, boosts revenue, and helps providers monetize customers all year long.
What inspired you to start your company?
As the mother of two young, energetic boys, I found myself struggling to entertain them in a way that brought us closer together. The park is great when it's warm, but eight months of the year in Chicago, we're looking for ways to fill our weekends, evenings, and occasional days off.
At the same time, I realized there were amazing things happening in our city in terms of events, classes, family activities, but there was no easy way to find and book them. The kids’ classes industry is quite outdated. However, when I looked at what ClassPass was doing in the boutique fitness space, I realized there was an opportunity to apply this model to children’s classes.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to inspire children's curiosity and passion by empowering parents through convenience and choice.
Our vision is to be the number one provider of family activities and entertainment in the world. From first birthdays to sleep away camp, we want to be the trusted resource for how your family builds meaningful memories.
Who is in your core team? How did your team come together?
Our team is comprised of 14 passionate, positive, inspiring people. 12 of us are women, eight of us are parents. The team is divided up between tech, operations, supply, and customer acquisition.
Most of the team joined from similar companies. However, two of my team members were initially customers, but loved Pearachute so much they wanted to work with us!
What's Pearachute's edge?
One of the things that Pearachute does best is that we really understand our customers. This is because we are customers ourselves. I think that shows in our brand voice, the way we build our product, the strategy we have for expansion, and how we target our users. I also think we have a bigger vision than simply "ClassPass for kids." Our sights are aimed at the much larger space of family entertainment (currently a $70B/year market), which means our product will naturally become more transactional over time.
What are your interests and passions outside of Pearachute?
When I'm not working, I am 100% focused on my family. I coach my son's AYSO soccer team and plan fun things with our family friends. When I do sneak away for some “me time,” I enjoy zumba and running.
If you had a year to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
I would spend the first three months traveling with my family, showing them my favorite places and exploring new ones. I'd spend the next six months living in an area of the world where we could bring meaningful value. My husband is very handy and I really enjoy mentoring early-stage entrepreneurs. I'd make sure we were somewhere in a developing area of the world where we could both contribute for six months and where our children could begin to appreciate happiness with less. And then I'd bookend the trip with somewhere the boys really want to go, perhaps Legoland in California.
Do you have a favorite book?
Such a hard one. I think for improvement, Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. It forces you to look at the role ego plays in parenting and gives you room to love and support your children for who they are.
For pleasure, I really enjoy the escapism of heroic fantasy as a genre. Maybe it's the Hero's Journey element of entrepreneurship mixed with the fantastical. Or maybe it's simply the ability to enter a world so separate from the often stressful world of entrepreneurship, but one of my recent favorites is Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
With equity crowdfunding, we can bring a much bigger audience into our story. We can create champions out of strangers and bring our customers in as investors.
As someone with a previously successful campaign, what about equity crowdfunding appeals to you?
I am a passionate believer in the power of the crowd to create both small and large change. As founders, the stories of our companies are often very private. We limit information to our investors and boards. But with equity crowdfunding, we can bring a much bigger audience into our story. We can create champions out of strangers and bring our customers in as investors.
There's so much incredible opportunity to share, connect, react, and grow. I brought Pearachute back on Republic to bring the next stage of our story to light and to give a new pool of customers the ability to be a part of our outcome, as well.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
It's never a single moment. Instead, it's a series of moments that affirm something wonderful. For me, my wonderful "moment" has been realizing the love and the bond that has formed between the two little humans my husband and I brought into the world. I am deeply close to my sister, and being able to see our two boys embrace, support, console, and encourage each other at such young ages makes my heart ache with a joy I've never known.
Once I had the idea for my first company, I experienced a level of passion and drive that sustained me like air or food.
Why not a 9-5? Why choose uncertainty over comfort?
I have had a 9-5 job that I loved very much. I worked at the Kauffman Foundation and discovered what it felt like to find meaning in my work and see the impact of my efforts.
However, once I had the idea for my first company, I experienced a level of passion and drive that sustained me like air or food. It was a fire in my belly that made every day exciting. Living with purpose can happen in any career. For me, my purpose is building businesses that need to exist and that bring people joy.
Who inspires you?
Like most founders, I take inspiration from so many people. My children inspire me to push harder, to make Pearachute better, to create a life I am proud of. My husband inspires me to grind through the hard and appreciate the good along the way. My mom inspires me with her infectious positivity, and my sister inspires me with her charisma and intelligence.
I'm also inspired by founders like Howard Schultz who builds companies that maximize stakeholder value, creating brands we love while being mindful of the impact on communities and the environment.