Name: Michelle Muncy
Job: Founder and principal owner
Business: ChildSharing Inc. What she said then:
In June 2010, Michelle Muncy of Atascadero received a Technology Business Award from the UC Merced Small Business Development Center.
Muncy founded ChildSharing Inc. in May 2008 to offer co-parenting classes for divorced or separated families required by a court to take such courses.
Last year, it employed three full-time and nine part-time workers.
What she says now:
By undercutting the prices of its few online competitors and developing material with input from state and county court systems, ChildSharing Inc. has seen a strong demand nationally for its classes.
Now it has expanded to offer anger management courses using the same model.
“We’re redesigning the infrastructure of our website,” Muncy said. “That’s been our biggest barrier, to be able to add new classes.”
Later, she expects to add parenting skills courses for child protective services programs, as well as “two-hour bonus classes” for teen parents and custodial grandparents.
With a 30 percent annual growth rate, the classes are accepted by 500 counties. But San Luis Obispo County isn’t one of them.
Prices for its online classes range from $40 for four hours of parenting instruction to $130 for eight hours of anger management. ChildSharing also allows courts to tack on their own fees.
The company offers discounts and free classes for indigent individuals.
“We lowered the price point. We offer multiple languages,” Muncy said. “We’ve tried to remove all the barriers for parents to excuse themselves from taking this required class.”
Starting as a home-based business, ChildSharing incorporated in Nevada but operates in a basement office on Olive Street in Paso Robles.
It now has four full-timers and five part-time employees, including programmers in Colorado, a saleswoman in New York and staff in Georgia.
“Because it’s an online-based business, we can run it anywhere. We don’t need a big fancy office,” Muncy said. “We’ve been in the black since our second year of business.”
More than 6,000 parents from every state have completed its courses.
They’ve also filled out surveys designed by ChildSharing. These lead Muncy to believe the classes are not just profitable, but valued by those taking them. She expected parents to be “bitter” or “angry,” but found the opposite.
By being able to get the required information on their own time and at their own pace, those taking the classes seem receptive.
“Our feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Muncy added. “To me, it seems like they’ve opened up and are ready to learn.”