Business

Former Yahoo execs’ startup makes it easier to plan family vacations

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I feel for anyone who has ever tried to arrange an activity that is fun for the whole family. It’s not easy! Generally speaking, pre-teens have fundamentally different ideas about how to spend their downtime than their middle-aged parents.

A Los Angeles-based startup called MiniTime is launching today to solve that problem.

MiniTime is designed to be easy to use: register to the site (or browse anonymously), select your kids’ ages and preferred destination, and in seconds you’ll be able to review a short-list of recommended places with reviews from MiniTime users.

Founders, Nimrod Lev and Oleg Sandler, have been building the technology to make it easier to plan family vacations for over a year. Prior to starting the company, they founded JCupid and kSolo, which were acquired by JDate (the dating site for Jewish singles) and FOX interactive Media respectively. The company appointed John Smelzer as CEO; the entrepreneur previously ran an online ad network that was acquired by Yahoo.

Above: MiniTime CEO, John Smelzer

The team applied its experience in online dating and digital media to develop an algorithm that ranks hotels and attractions for families with kids in specific age ranges. It takes into consideration kid-friendly amenities, proximity to activities that are fun for kids, the price, and reviews from families with kids in the same age group.

It’s not dissimilar to the algorithm that is used by sites like OKCupid to match its users. Over time, the algorithm gets smarter to produce more relevant rankings.

The algorithm is the company’s competitive differentiator – it faces heat from sites like FamilyTravel.com, Disney Family, and Ciao Bambino. In addition, travel booking monoliths like Expedia and Travelocity may not specialize in vacation type, but are go-to destinations for most people. In addition, Lastminute.com, the popular international travel site, is focused on building out its “activities” section.

MiniTime has pulled in $1 million in funding from Ross Levinsohn, the executive who served as the interim CEO of Yahoo until Marissa Mayer took over.

To get a better idea about how the service works, check out the video below.

Image via Shutterstock


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