If you’re a parent with a child who was born in the past few years, you most probably would have gone through the grind of finding an affordable, quality daycare. WeeCare, an LA-based startup, has an app that helps connect parents with home daycare owners, while also helping daycare owners operate their business.
Not So Affordable Child Care
While selecting a daycare for one’s child, challenges such as distance, logistics, quality and affordability arise. Affordability is perhaps the biggest challenge of them all. According to a 2017 report by Child Care Aware® of America, parents spend over 10% of their income on child care related expenses. Based on the state in which one is located and the age of the child, the figure can reach as high as 17% of the median income or also go up to 68% of the income in the case of millennials.
Child Care Aware® of America’s analysis also reveals that child care is the highest expenditure incurred by families in the United States. While the average cost is estimated at $8,600-$8,700, based on the geography and age this figure could reach $20,125. Daycares are officially more expensive than college! There is a real challenge in ensuring affordability and access to all.
While child care services are expensive, preschool teachers don’t get the benefit of the high fees. The median preschool teacher made little over $28,000. Ironically, preschool teachers cannot afford child care themselves! This makes it an unviable profession for the long term.
WeeCare has come up with an elegant solution to solve the challenges facing parents and caregivers.
WeeCare is creating a marketplace by connecting the demand side (parents) with the supply side (caregivers) and empowering both sides. WeeCare helps parents access affordable licensed daycare centers. On the other hand, WeeCare is empowering educators and caregivers with the necessary tools to open their own home daycares and become entrepreneurs, helping them realize greater value for their services (earning upto $90,000 a year) and manage their operations more easily.
The process starts off with a registration on the platform for parents and caregivers. For caregivers, WeeCare has a strict vetting process to ensure the safety of the child as well as quality of the daycare operations. After successfully meeting the necessary requirements relating to the specifications of the location (available area), state health and fire safety requirements and background verification, the daycare provider is on-boarded. A background verification is carried out of not just the applicant but also the family with the Department of Justice, FBI and Child Abuse Index to ensure there are no criminal records. These daycares are also licensed by the relevant authorities.
Parents can use the WeeCare platform to find and locate an affordable licensed WeeCare daycare near them. The listing gives detailed information about the daycare such as details of the teachers/director, weekly fee packages, deposit amounts, daily schedules, teach to kids ratio, the location and neighborhood. Parents can then proceed to contact the daycare and enroll their child. The app enables parents to communicate with caregivers and make payments through the app. Caregivers are encouraged to share pictures of the children during the day, ensuring parents don’t miss out on special moments.
The app is designed to help daycare providers with support for everything they need from home preparation and curriculum to insurance, enrollment, lead generation and billing. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with Esther Wojcicki, a renowned educator focusing on early child care.
The app also has tools to help the care providers communicate with parents by way of texts and images. Providers can send parents images of their children, newsletters and notifications via the app.
With payments being facilitated via the app, WeeCare has linked its revenue model to the success of the daycare by taking a percentage of the total tuition earned by the daycare. This ensures a symbiotic relation between both the parties with an aim of achieving long-term success.
The Past Year….
WeeCare was started in 2017 by co-founders Jessica Change (CEO), Matthew Reilly (CMO) and Jesse Forrest (CTO). Jessica worked in investment banking and private equity before she ventured into the startup world and started a preschool. Matthew has a track record of over 7.5 years in customer acquisition, marketing and growth having held senior positions at RadPad and Honey. Jesse has focused on tech with his last role as Director of Engineering at Tradesy, an online P2P resale marketplace.
The co-founders’ previous experience in building, scaling and exiting startups as well as their specialized skill sets have helped them meticulously approach operations as well as funding. When the co-founders started raising pre-seed capital, they only had a concept. They used the pre-seed investment to get a few daycare centers running in Southern California in order to understand the product better. They started in LA and tested it out in different communities, ethnic groups and socio-economic zones as they wanted a product that worked in all areas. Their aim was to have running centers before they announced their seed round. They steadily kept scaling up and had 10 running centers with over 70 daycares in the pipeline by the time they reached their seed funding round. WeeCare currently has 52 daycares listed on their platform.
WeeCare recently raised $4.2M in their seed round led by Social Capital with participation from Fuel Venture and previous investors such as Amplify, Fika Ventures and Wavemaker Partners. WeeCare plans on using the capital for expanding to cities beyond Southern California.
However, WeeCare isn’t the only one in this space. Wonderschool, a San Francisco based startup addressing the daycare problem, recently raised $20M in Series A financing to fuel its expansion. With nearly 30,000 general zip codes across the country, the geography is large enough to accommodate more players. As the daycare market isn’t a winner-take-all market, competition would translate into greater coverage and better services, giving parents a wide range of services to choose from.