Alumni Provide Childcare Options with the Click of a Mouse

Posted: October 28, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Laura S. Jeffrey

Eric Smeby’s idea for his MS in technology management capstone project was not the winner. But the idea launched a partnership with two teammates in what may become a lucrative side business. Smeby and his team developed a web site,, to help parents in Virginia research childcare options. They created a business plan that included financing and implementation.

Smeby’s team was topped by a group who proposed installing large, flat-screen television monitors at Metro stops to show advertising. “But we were given a fair amount of constructive criticism from the executive board” that determined the winner, Smeby says. After they graduated in the summer of ’05, Smeby and two teammates, Jimmy Jones and Seth Pickett, decided to turn their idea into reality.

Presently, the web site is in the testing stages. (Smeby invites Mason faculty and staff to go to the site, check it out and provide feedback.) The Mason alumni hope to start advertising the site by January and eventually expand it to assist parents nationwide in their childcare search.

Smeby, Jones and Picket all work full time, and Smeby already runs a national roommate-matching web site ( He and his wife do not have children yet, but “a lot of my friends are starting to have babies,” he says. “Many of them told me they wished there was something like my roommate-matching web site to help parents research daycare options.” These conversations sparked the idea when Smeby and his team members were brainstorming project ideas for the capstone class.

Smeby says he and his partners plan to seek advertisers for their web site, but they hope to generate most of the revenue from individual as well as corporate daycare providers willing to pay to enhance their site listings with more detailed information.

“Parents we know are very excited” about the web site, Smeby says. “Finding care is such a stressful and time-consuming process. Anyone who has gone through it understands the value of our site.”

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