Young Entrepreneurs: Desiree Vargas Wrigley of Pearachute
Young Entrepreneurs: Desiree Vargas Wrigley of Pearachute

A ClassPass-inspired app geared towards children proves to be just what parents need.

“There’s a big difference between people who can come up with ideas and people who can execute them,” says Pearachute founder and chief strategy officer Desiree Vargas Wrigley. “Money isn’t a barrier. Usually, it’s about time, commitment and dedication. Before you worry about raising money, you need to find out if there’s even a demand for your product.”

Wrigley, a second-time founder, knows what she’s talking about. After creating one of the first crowdfunding platforms ever, GiveForward, Wrigley has a good sense of what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur. GiveForward has raised over $190 million dollars for hundreds of thousands of families since its inception in 2008.

With her latest venture, Pearachute, Wrigley is in the process of launching an app designed to create moments of joy for both parents and children. Inspired by apps like ClassPass, Wrigley saw an opportunity to create a similar app for parents and their children.

“I was spending my time at home with my kids when we signed up my oldest, Griffin, for soccer when he was two and half years old. We found ourselves having to cancel a lot, but you had to call and get in touch with someone and it was just tough. I wanted it to be easier.”

Hence the idea for Pearachute, an app that allows parents to sign their young children up for one-off activities and classes. And, of course, they made it easy to cancel.

With a good idea on hand, Vargas spend the first six months of her business trying to gauge whether or not there really was a demand. It was a hit. Officially launching in January of 2016, Pearachute now offers 3,100 class and activity spots for kids in just Chicago alone. They’ve also launched in Dallas and Kansas City. It’s hard to say exactly how much at this time, but Pearachute hopes for major expansion and growth in 2017.

“We’re a few years away from it, but we are considering franchising,” says Wrigley. “A lot of the marketing and centralized resources can easily come from headquarters, but local representatives are important to help navigate the nuances of each market. I think that having a local owner would be really powerful.”

They’ve also found that Pearachute helps local businesses to actually maintain clients who are already considering leaving. By allowing parents to not commit to long-term activities for their children, but rather to have more control about how often and when, Pearachute keeps parents and children in the local market’s activity and class ecosystem.

One of the most unexpected, and welcome, surprises for Wrigley in the past year has been how much easier it is to launch a business the second time around. “Each time you go through this journey, you learn more about yourself as a leader. You’re also more aware of the dangers and can navigate them a lot better. This time, I’m less self-conscious and much more calm.”

Wrigley’s biggest message? Anyone can become an entrepreneur. All it takes is an idea, commitment, and the willingness to fail.