Chhay Chhun is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of KidPass. Chhun leads the engineering team, oversees the company’s technical strategy, and is dedicated to building a team of world-class engineers to modernize parenting. Chhun has an extensive background in web development, local marketplaces, content platforms, and project management at Time Out New York, Forbes, The Economist, and Harvard University. As a parent and an educator, Chhay founded KidPass out of his passion for building technology that can help families and kids’ activity providers.
Chhun was born in Thailand to Cambodian parents trying to flee the nation due to the Khmer Rouge. Due to these devastating circumstances, he spent his early childhood in refugee camps. After migrating to the Parkchester area of the Bronx with his family, his father started working as a tailor while his mother worked in a sweatshop to make ends meet and give their children quality education. Chhun recalled, “My parents had to pay for school back in Cambodia, they have a grade school education. So for them, a free education in the U.S. was surreal to say the least. Even though they couldn’t help with the actual work, they always made sure that we prioritized school and got good grades.”
He recalled his childhood in the Bronx, “I didn’t even know what kid activities were. Kids played in the streets or you joined Little League. I was lucky enough that my dad pushed me to go to a martial arts school.” Due to his personal experiences growing up, he wanted to give kids an edge over the others by providing them with courses and other kids’ activities that can help surge their potential.
In 5th grade, Chhun went to C.S. 102 in the Bronx, and his teacher suggested he apply for Prep for Prep, an organization that identifies New York City’s most promising students of colour and prepare them for success at independent schools throughout the Northeast. Once placed, they support the academic and personal growth of their students through college. Due to this opportunity, he graduated from a prestigious prep school and then went on to earn his B.A in English at Harvard University.
After graduating, Chhun worked at several places, including Harvard University, Forbes and Time Out New York, before founding Kidpass. One day while conversing with his then-friend and now co-founder-Solomon Liou, they came up with a solution to combat the dilemma of millennial parents to balance a full-time job and raising a well-rounded child with a busy schedule and tight budget. Liou’s wife was pregnant at the time, and Chhun was about to get married and planning to have kids. This concept soon culminated into KidPass to aid new parents like Liou.
Chhun says, “I had worked at Time Out Kids, so I got some exposure to the kid space. We started kicking around the idea of KidPass to each other, and it clicked one day when we said it should be a subscription model.”
Explaining the dilemma of millennial parents, Liou says, “I think as a millennial, parenting is one of the biggest challenges for our generation, yet very few companies are doing much to address it. Almost everything we do today – whether it’s booking a table, a taxi, or a doctor — is one click away. However, trying to find kids’ activities today still requires word of mouth and the yellow pages – almost nothing is digitally accessible.”
The duo wanted to modernize parenting and make it easier through KidPass, which helps parents find events, camps, classes, museums and more. The platform helps children discover and enrol in online courses and provides tools and training to their network of thousands of instructors, enabling anyone to effortlessly bring their classes online with just a laptop or phone, thereby revolutionizing modern parenting as well serving as an excellent tool for employment.
KidPass allows teachers to control their schedules and offer classes on topics they are passionate about—everything from math and foreign language to art, dance, music, sports, and theatre. Instructors offer drop-in extracurricular classes and semester-long academic classes, making it easy for parents to create their children’s own highly personalized class schedules. While this is an excellent initiative for kids, they also provide great job opportunities to instructors. Top instructors earn over $80 an hour and up to $10,000 a month on the platform.
Liou explained, “We’ve brought hundreds of local businesses online through our platform and have seen our customer base grow 10 times in just six months – all organically. Doing fun stuff with your kids shouldn’t be a chore, and I think with KidPass we’ve solved that.”
The company instantly became a success, and the advent of the pandemic has only helped accelerate their cause further. KidPass is now the most extensive website for booking online kids’ classes. Online class enrollments have been up more than 2,000% since February 2021.
The company has also introduced corporate partnerships with leading innovative companies globally to support the diverse family needs of their employees. This brilliant initiative allows employees to discover and book kids’ activities and child care services, saving time and money while solving one of the biggest challenges for modern working parents. The platform has also helped Chhun connect with his baby daughter Zoey while giving her a well-rounded childhood.
Talking about his role as a father and CTO, he says, “Being a dad is an additional role I need to grow into while continuing to be the best partner I can be to my wife. And that’s while we figure out how to be the best parents we can be—also while I’m trying to be the best co-founder and CTO I can be for KidPass. I accept that being a dad is something I have to try and grow into every day.” He concludes, “I’m grateful to have the chance to watch her grow and witness her developmental leaps, no matter how small.”