Hi Moms and Dads, especially my fellow high-risk pregnancy warriors! My name is Billy Gozum, an Irvine mom of two girls. I just launched Urban Tykes to help parents stress less about family travel by building a tribe of parents helping parents. Our online platform lets parents of young children travel lighter when they rent baby gear from parents local to their destination. And parents are able to fund their next vacation (or add to their nest egg) when they list the baby gear they already own on our site and rent it out to families visiting their city.
Urban Tykes was born out of my personal struggles–I hated having to bring so much stuff that my daughters didn’t need until we got to our destination, and seeing my friends’ social media feeds of beautiful family vacations made me stressed out over budgeting for our own family trips. I started Urban Tykes because I want parents to enjoy their vacations more–to stop vacation envy by giving them an avenue to earn extra income, and to overcome travel anxiety by helping them leave their bulky baby gear at home.
So how does Urban Tykes work?
It’s like Airbnb and Doordash combined, but for baby gear. Parents who want to rent out their baby gear can go on our site and create a listing where they set the price and their calendar availability. We also encourage them to bundle up their gear to be more helpful to families who are traveling! If they have a stroller and a crib to list, maybe they have a play pen, a bottle warmer, or a baby tub they want to throw in! We train them throughout the entire process of being a lister and provide top-down support through every step.
For parents who want to rent baby gear, they just do a search for the dates they need and for the area they’re traveling to, and then they can book from any of the listings that match their needs. If they can’t find what they need, we can help them build a custom request and connect them with locals who have the baby gear they need! We take care of pick-up and drop-off at their hotel or rental home so they can worry less and enjoy their vacation all the more.
Because we’re building a community of families helping families, we’re earmarking a portion of our revenue to help causes that address food insecurity, homelessness, and under-education among children.
Tell us more about yourself!
I’m a first-generation immigrant, born and raised in the Philippines. My experience growing up in a developing country is so different from that of my daughters’ upbringing so my husband and I make a point to keep their ties to their Filipino heritage close to their hearts despite the distance. My husband and I are huge advocates for traveling with kids. The glimmer in their eyes when they see and experience things for themselves is so irreplaceable and makes the travel struggle bus so worth it.
My background in tech and my years as a student and community leader gave me the push to start Urban Tykes, but it’s not without its challenges. As a female immigrant founder, I hope to inspire other women to pursue their passions, to build each other up, and to help each other be seen and heard.
I never pictured myself as a mom, but my daughters are the best present that I never thought I needed. People talk about parents being a kid’s first teachers, but there hasn’t been a lot of acknowledgment that children teach us parents so much as well. I’ve learned to pick my battles and to overcome so much of my fears for the sake of and because of my kids! I never thought I’d be ok with wiping down a pacifier that fell on the ground and sticking it back into my kid’s mouth and yet here I am, realizing that some things really just have to give (sometimes, haha).
What do you love doing on your down time?
I love to cook! Lately I’ve been dabbling and succeeding in baking, and it’s my time to bond with my oldest daughter who wants to be an accomplished junior baker herself. We also love to travel! We’ve taken our kids across several continents and over 100,000 miles and yes we do it with a lot of stress and sometimes some bickering, but it’s always worth it whenever we go.
What have been your memorable moments thus far while building Urban Tykes?
This year, we were selected by NPR to be one of only sixty fellows out of 1,000 applicants at their How I Built This Summit. Their theme this year was kindness and collaboration, and all of the fellows shared that common thread of wanting to build communities that encourage more empathy. It was a great opportunity to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and to learn from accomplished founders like Sara Blakely of Spanx and the creators of Instagram.
On the sobering side, I’ve had to keep working on the company while on bed rest when I was pregnant with our second daughter. It was tough on everyone–my husband, my oldest daughter, even our dog. It was one of the most trying times for all of us, but it also strengthened us. My nine weeks in the hospital taught all of us to make the most of each moment we spend together and to make the best out of the hand we’re dealt. I also learned to be more accepting of help, to appreciate the smallest of wins, and to be more empathetic to others.