We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Quinn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I started Testingmom.com, I knew a lot about what pre-K to 1st graders needed to know to do well on tests for gifted programs and school admissions, and I just wanted to share that information with other parents. I understood how difficult it was for parents to find out what was on tests for little kids – schools won’t share that info and it wasn’t easily available at that time, so I started the business with that in mind. There was a need and I wanted to fill it so I could help other parents. It was that simple. I’ve since expanded the mission – we now help families with children from pre-K to 8th grade, we do online tutoring and virtual academic and enrichment classes, but the thought process at the beginning was very simple. I think many businesses start out small like that and then grow as their customers’ needs become more obvious to the founders.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At TestingMom.com, we are all about helping parents help their kids succeed in school. Our tag line is “Involved Parents – Successful Kids.” Even though we are an online program, we are available to our parents anytime they have questions or concerns. We have a very experienced group of experts called “The Parent Success Team” that answers parent questions about testing, their child’s educational options, and more. If our Parent Success Team can’t help them, then the question is sent to me and I will help them. With most online platforms, there are no humans to talk to. We’re just the opposite. We want to help and guide our parents. The other thing I’m proud of is that we listen to our parents and give them what they ask for. Before the pandemic, we weren’t doing online classes for kids, but it became clear to us that this was needed. I started teaching writing online. We brought in teachers to do math and vocabulary classes online. At first, we just did it for free because it was needed by our members. But the demand became so great that we had to hire teachers and put some real investment behind it. Now we offer these classes, and we charge for them, but we keep our rates as low as we can so that price isn’t a barrier to participating. And we keep the price of membership in our site very low as well so that we can serve more families. I’m very proud that we listen to our members’ needs and do our very best to serve them and their children.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are so many fun things to do in San Diego! I’d take my visitor shopping in La Jolla, hiking the various trails near my home, we’d go to Little Italy, the beaches and streets of Coronado and Del Mar, the Zoo, Safari Park, Balboa Park, shopping at Suzan’s Silver & Boutique (my favorite little store in Solano Beach), and then to the various restaurants I love like The Winery at UTC Mall and Eddie V’s in La Jolla.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother was instrumental to my success. She was a Ph.D in Early Childhood Education. When my son was about 3, a doctor gave him an IQ test and he scored in the low 40th percentile. I was told he would never be very smart and I should look for special education for him. My mother guided me in how I could work with him and build his cognitive skills. I worked with him for about a half-hour every day for over a year, keeping it fun and playful, and about a year later, he scored in the mid-90th percentile on the IQ test. That’s when I learned the power of parent involvement. I wanted to share what I knew about working with young children with other parents who didn’t have a mother with expertise my mother had. Without my mom’s help and encouragement along the way, I could never have gone down this path. She was also an incredibly hard worker, a writer, and someone who just did whatever she was inspired to do career-wise. I wanted to be like her.