Previously, I have covered other momblogger and moms online activity including a roundup of new mom sites. These sites offer experiences for moms and some try to "capture" a community behind a virtual fence.
I had a great conversation this week with Andra Davidson, Co-founder and President of MothersClick a great new site that just emerged from private beta this month. This service is meant to facilitate mothers' groups online and offline. That they are trying to facilitate an existing behavior is great. Too many start-ups have grand visions for technology that will change our lives fundamentally versus enhancing some existing dynamic.
My original post evaluated these sites on their "openness" and gave a "fencepost" rating. MothersClick qualifies as:
"# (one fencepost) - this means the service is open in that you can have a blog anywhere and still get value out of the service."
While they do offer blog templates to those without them, it is not a prerequisite to using the service for it's core value which is group support. Moms can set up a group and define what it's focus is based upon Group Tags - these are system-specific tags (meaning that Technorati does not recognize them yet). In fact, MothersClick makes ample use of the tagging concept as they also have Q&A tags and Blog tags, as well.
Users can locate groups via a Google Maps mashup. Since the service is intended to extend the existing mothers group concept, this geography interface makes a lot of sense. Like VOX, there is a certain level of privacy available. Moms must be invited to join a group and group pages can display public information or restrict content such that only group members can see. On VOX, we have the choice of publishing content to no one, only family, friends or to the general public.
Andra told me that they have definitely bootstrapped to get this far. They are focused on developing the membership for the moment and she suggested they have only begun to think about monetizing the service. Some groups are formed around regions - Moms Group of Santa Cruz - and some are formed around other affinities - e.g. playdates, health and fitness. Both types lend themselves to some very useful and targeted sponsorships and advertising. Reebok could sponsor a collection of health groups. Local advertisers could sponsor the local group. There is a powerful opportunity to apply local advertising. A question remains as to whether MothersClick will split that revenue with groups (e.g. BlogHer). If not, they will have to consider the dual service model where some level of service is free and does feature advertising or if users can pay for a higher level of service sans the advertising. But that is down the road.
I got the sense from Andra that MothersClick is a labor of love not just a Web 2.0 play. Now mothers' groups have a fairly organic way to extend their activity online. What will be interesting is when the groups will start to social network creating group clusters.
keep an eye on MothersClick.