Carepass Mobile App - Safe, Flexible and Affordable Child Care On-demand
Carepass creates a child care safety net by connecting unused capacity at licensed child care centers with parents seeking drop-in care
Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)
The most significant update since we first submitted is that we have advanced past the prototyping stage and are just now commencing piloting. As of today, we have five child care centers "pre-registered" with Carepass and scheduled to begin accepting their very first Carepass Guests in two weeks. We have also hired our very first Member Success Team associate to help lead the charge in engaging, registering and supporting child care centers in the Carepass network.
In terms of how our idea evolved, we owe a debt a gratitude to our Singapore-based mentor, Min-Lin Lim, who invested hours of her time both over the phone (when it was VERY late in the evening for her) and via email. During these sessions, we covered a lot of ground, but her most meaningful contribution was in leading us on an introspective exploration of who Carepass is serving and how it is adding value, and then helping us better articulate that internally and externally.
Whereas before, we were a just a mobile app for drop-in care, Min-Lin helped us discover that the ramifications of Carepass and the marketplace it is creating go far, far beyond that. Carepass advances financial inclusion, democratizes high-quality child care and, in effect, creates a desperately-needed child care 'safety net' for families - particularly under-resourced ones - when they inevitably find themselves in a child care bind.
Per her recommendation, we have already tested incorporating this higher purpose into our messaging, pitch, etc. and, so far, it is resonating very well with parents and child care centers alike. As such, we are beginning the process of updating our marketing assets, fundraising materials, etc. (and this submission!) to reflect this newfound, broader purpose.
Name or Organization
Legal entity: Carepass, Inc.
Founding Team: Stefanie Mederos (General Counsel), Tony Hill (CEO), Igor Royzis (CTO)
Carepass is currently based in Miami, FL, but our plan is to scale nationwide and globally.
What is your stage of development?
Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.
When users open Carepass, they are immediately presented with all child care centers in their geographic vicinity.
Users can search for and browse registered child care centers in list view or map view.
A sample Care Provider Profile, which displays general information, contact info, license information, hours of operation, hourly rates, ratings & reviews and more.
Another sample Care Provider Profile.
Sample Kid Profile, which stores important information about a Carepass Guest, including age, gender, allergies, dietary restrictions, activity restrictions, likes, dislikes and more.
The Book Now functionality lets parents specify (i) which kids need care, (ii) when they need it, and (iii) in what geographic area, as well as (iv) pre-select any required services (such as security cameras, food served, etc.). After that, Carepass serves up a list of centers that match all of those requirements.
Carepass estimates fares for parents in advance of confirming a booking.
Bookings History screen
Carepass logo, trademark pending
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
Carepass connects unused capacity at licensed child care centers with parents seeking safe, flexible and affordable drop-in care. Best of all, its intuitive mobile app make the process as fast and effortless as getting an Uber.
For under-resourced families, in particular, Carepass fills a critical need by creating an always-on "safety net" of affordable back-up care whenever they need it most. For parents, this means no more missed work, for instance, due to child care plans falling through. For kids, it means better care, provided by professional caregivers in kid safe environments.
Select an Innovation Target
Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources.
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
Around the world, family demographics and workplace dynamics are evolving at a breakneck pace. Parents' options for child care, meanwhile, have remained frozen in carbonite. The vast majority of families continue to depend on some combination of daycare, nannies, and sitters to balance work and life. But, as all parents know, when one of these options fails, it can lead to missed work, cancelled meetings, and/or other serious repercussions. This takes a particularly hard toll on under-resourced families.
Carepass attacks this problem head on by stringing together a network of existing, licensed child care centers, and opening up their excess and unused capacity to parents who need short-term child care, all with a few swipes of their smartphone.
The implications of this are massive and far-reaching. First and foremost, families of all socioeconomic backgrounds gain an unprecedented safety net, in the form of safe, flexible and affordable child care anytime, anywhere. Second, in emergencies, parents no longer need to rely on dubious sources of child care. Carepass connects their children with licensed, regulated and inspected centers, operated by trained, professional caretakers. Third, by distributing the cost of care over multiple children, Carepass lowers the price of care per child well below that of hiring a sitter. Lastly, Carepass offers welcome relief to beleaguered care providers in the form of an out-of-the-box new revenue stream entirely on their terms.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
When parents' trusted sources of child care go down, their back-up care options range from sub-optimal to plain nonexistent. For families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, this can lead to missed work and/or other obligations, potentially endangering their finances and employment. For under-resourced families, this problem is particularly acute.
Carepass solves this problem by creating a safety net of safe, flexible, and affordable child care that parents can rely on whenever they need it.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
At a high level, Carepass connects unused capacity at licensed child care centers with parents seeking on-demand drop-in care. In so doing, parents enjoy access to a nationwide network of safe, affordable and flexible child care centers, while those very child care centers gain an entirely new, plug-and-play revenue stream and marketing tool. It’s like Airbnb for the child care industry.
At a more pragmatic level, what this means is that Carepass is building a marketplace. One side of the marketplace will consist of parents who, for any number of reasons, need back-up or supplemental care. On the other side of the marketplace - the trickier side - Carepass is enlisting existing, LICENSED daycare centers (of which there are over 300,000 in the U.S.) to register with Carepass and become part of its network/community. Once registered and approved, the owners or directors of these child are centers specify (in their private administrator portal) which days and hours they are willing to host Carepass "Guests" (i.e. children) and what their hourly rates are for that care. To be clear, a child care center will be matched with Carepass guests ONLY during time slots they have pre-approved.
The Carepass mobile application, then, is the interface that brings both sides of the marketplace together. The app (which is complete and undergoing final testing as I type) will out-of-the-gate offer a robust feature set, including: GPS-based and filter-based care provider search; detailed care provider profiles (managed by care providers themselves); in-app booking of care (instant or in advance); secure drop-off and pick-up (synced with caretaker); and, best of all, auto-transact (meaning, the moment a child is picked up, the amount due is automatically calculated and charged to the parent's credit card on file).
The end goal of all this is to empower parents with a digital passport of sorts, which lets them access and rely upon Carepass' network/community of member child care centers for drop-in care whenever they need it, ultimately creating a "fourth" category of child care - beyond daycare, nannies and babysitters - which is more flexible, inexpensive and, in many ways, safer than traditional alternatives.
For low-income families and children in particular, Carepass has the promise to dramatically improve the quality of backup/supplemental child care, offering kid-safe, social, and stimulating child care at a fraction of the cost of a nanny of at-home babysitter (due to the distributed cost of a caretaker across multiple children), completely on-demand.
To achieve this vision, Carepass will need to undertake an aggressive national campaign to enlist existing, licensed child care centers and family child cares into its network. In parallel, to populate the demand side of the marketplace, Carepass will need to engage in sophisticated local and national social media strategies to cultivate brand awareness, adoption, usage, and word-of-mouth advertising from parents. Both of these objectives will require an expansion of Carepass' current team, as well as capital infusion to fund multi-state expansion.
Ultimately, the vision of Carepass is to create a platform which, though nationwide in reach, is actually built upon and focused on local communities - A platform which acts as an online forum for parents to communicate and collaborate with local child care centers to organize and host the sorts of care that both parents, and their children, want and need, at a price they can afford.
Benefits of Carepass: flexibility, peace of mind, portability and cost.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
PARENTS: Gain access to a local (and, some day, national) network of licensed child care centers. This first-of-its-kind service means that, whether its a last-minute emergency or something planned in advance, parents can ALWAYS secure safe and affordable child care.
CHILDREN: Gain access to kid-safe environments that are supervised by professional caretakers and more socially, cognitively and physically stimulating than, for example, being babysat at home.
CARE PROVIDERS: Gain access a new, plug-and-play source of income. Owning a child care center is equal parts gratifying and grueling. Low margins, seasonality, employee turnover, are just a few examples of the challenges center owners deal with daily. By joining the Carepass network, care providers can take otherwise idle overhead – like their building, classroom, playground, and caretakers – and monetize it. In addition to extra income, Carepass helps care providers weather seasonal slumps like winter and summer break.
CARETAKERS: Gain access to more work at higher hourly wages. It’s no secret that caretakers/employees at child care centers don’t earn very much money and, as such, rely on babysitting on the side to supplement their income. Carepass creates extra demand for their services, at a higher price.
The three founders of Carepass are parents with extensive experience dealing with child care center owners, operators and caretakers. One of Carepass' advisors (and fans) owns a child care center.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
In the short term, Carepass will provide instant relief to parents who find themselves in need of reliable, trustworthy and affordable back-up or supplemental care. This in and of itself will be disruptive (in the most positive of ways) to parents of all socioeconomic backgrounds as well as to the 300,000 child care center and family child care owners who struggle to make ends meet. Carepass will convey upon them a welcome cash lifeline completely out of the box, and at no cost.
Over the long-term, Carepass' value proposition and positive societal change will expand well beyond its initial focus on backup and supplemental care. The clearest example of this is Carepass' goal to evolve from a pure-play marketplace to a full-blown community, where the mobile app becomes a forum through which care providers and parents communicate, socialize and even collaborate. So, rather than just being open to receive Carepass guests, child care centers would begin hosting and promoting themed events for children in their vicinity (ex. Friday Night Disney Films, Saturday Sports Day, Sunday Arts & Crafts). In this manner, Carepass would evolve from a child care option of last resort to a child care "destination," connecting parents and their children with unique and healthy experiences in their very own neighborhoods.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
Families of all socioeconomic backgrounds will find value in Carepass; however, without a doubt, under-resourced families stand to gain the most for myriad reasons. First, low income jobs also tend to be the most unforgiving in terms of work flexibility. When parents in these sorts of jobs find themselves in a child care bind, they are at the greatest risk of having to miss work, costing them money and, possibly, their jobs. Carepass addresses this problem head-on, offering high-quality care at a moment's notice.
Second, Carepass is significantly more affordable than, for example, hiring a sitter, since the hourly cost of a caretaker is spread across multiple children. The national average hourly rate for a babysitter is $14.00 - higher than most states' minimum wage. With Carepass, parents would be paying half of that, or even less.
Third, the benefits of looking after children in a center - as opposed to at home with a sitter - are manifold. To begin with, centers are kid-safe and have certain security measures in place. Secondly, child care centers and their caretakers offer a significantly more stimulating environment - physically, socially and cognitively - than the average low-income household. So, through Carepass, low-income children get access to invaluable learning opportunities that might otherwise elude them at home.
Ultimately, Carepass helps democratize high-quality child care by bringing it within reach of families that, today, can't attain it.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)
Carepass is both innovative and disruptive because it literally is creating a brand new source of child care.
Think about it, for generations, parents have had to rely on the same mix of child care options: daycare, friends & family, sitters and nannies.
Carepass changes this equation. Now, if a parent find him/herself in a child care bind due to work, health, etc., all they need do is flip open the Carepass app and, literally within moments, they can secure safe, affordable, and high-quality care.
It is the largest leap forward tech-wise for child care since Care.com.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
In the United States, there are approximately 50 million children under the age of 11, over 20% (or 10 million) of whom live in poverty. Fortunately, given the ubiquity of smartphones (almost 80% of US adults own one), along with the popularity of major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Carepass is confident that it can deploy fairly standard digital marketing and social media strategies to build its brand and promote word-of-mouth advertising at relatively low cost. Carepass, after all, is a concept that is fairly easy to grasp and, for millenials in particular, slots well into now well-understood business models like Uber and Airbnb.
The real challenge for Carepass will be in systematically engaging and registering the approximately 300,000 licensed child care centers and family child cares in the United States - the vast majority of which are sole proprietorships with little to no technology in place. Preliminary field marketing (albeit limited) suggests that phone and email marketing is not an effective tool to engage them. After all, child care centers get solicited on a daily basis. Field marketing, however, has proven to be effective. This means that Carepass will likely need to invest in regional 'Member Success Teams' to identify, engage and manage child care centers. Though expensive, such teams have the invaluable benefit of putting a human face on a new and disruptive idea, which will greatly help with adoption by the child care industry.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
For the last 12 months, the Carepass team has conferred with - and been directly advised by - a number of professionals in the child care industry. These industry-specific contributions and insights informed the development of the Carepass app and overall business model from the outset.
Today, Carepass has a fully-functional prototype, built entirely in-house and self-funded, which is currently undergoing final QA (quality assurance) testing. Already, we have secured and pre-registered five centers to participate in a 30-day beta program which commences in two weeks.
After the beta phase, and any subsequent product/business model modifications deemed necessary as a result, we are tentatively planning on a formal launch in Q2 of 2018. Initially, Carepass will rely on a small cadre of Member Success Team associates to begin engaging and registering South Florida child care centers into the Carepass network. Flanking this effort will be a social media-heavy digital marketing strategy focused on targeting parents and pushing downloads of the Carepass app. Further down the line, a number of compelling partnership opportunities have already been identified which Carepass intends to pursue.
From a technical and operational perspective, Carepass has the team and resources to fund a small-scale launch which, albeit slowly, has a clear path to net positive cash flow in as quickly as a year. The risk of this approach is the slow speed with which the Carepass network would grow locally, much less beyond the state of Florida. Even a nominal cash flow injection early on would allow Carepass to formally launch in more than one city at first, and have a multiplier effect on initial growth of both registered centers and registered parents, propelling Carepass to reach critical mass and break-even all the sooner.
Ideally, and this is, in fact, Carepass' strategy, shortly after we can measure enough traction to demonstrate product-market fit, we intend to formally begin seeking a seed round of financing. Those funds will almost entirely be focused on marketing, business development and operations, allowing Carepass to launch in U.S.'s top ten metropolitan areas, and spread outward from there.
As alluded to above, and elsewhere in this submission, Carepass' two biggest gaps are (i) in marketing (where our leadership has limited experience) and (ii) in capital resources. To date, Carepass has been entirely self-funded by its founders. However, in order to build a true world-class team and fully execute on its vision to become the "fourth" category of child care - not to mention not lose its first-mover advantage - Carepass will require significant outside investment.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)
Carepass' business model is exceptionally viable. To begin with, the product is already built and its first customers are already pre-registered to begin hosting Carepass Guests in less than a month. So, at this stage, any execution risk that the app might not make it to market has been eliminated. Carepass is ready for launch and the countdown has started.
Going forward, the primary wildcard we face is child care center adoption and usage rates. That is to say, the percentage of child care centers that will register with the network and the frequency with which they will host Carepass Guests. As one can imagine, these are the two variables that drive the growth trajectory of the entire company.
Our strategy for addressing both is to put customer testimonials - published and via word of mouth - at the heart of all of marketing and public relations efforts. The reason is simple: disruptive ideas typically usher in large-scale change and people, by nature, fear change. So, to overcome this fear, we need people to see other people using and finding success with Carepass. This applies as much on the parent side as it does on the child care center side. This strategy, by the way, is one that my team and I deployed in a previous venture that was disruptive for its time and industry, and it was highly effective.
Beyond usage and adoption, our only other concern is capital. To date, Carepass has been entirely self-funded. In order for it to achieve its mission of scaling nationwide, it will absolutely need to secure outside investment to fund continued product development, marketing and, above all else, the hiring and training of an expansive Member Success Team to engage, pitch, and register child care centers. Already, we have commenced early-stage discussions with a couple of venture capital firms, and interest levels have been encouraging.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)
The main vehicle for HCD was through extensive prototyping. At every stage of development - from conceptualization to design to development and now beta testing - the Carepass team was in constant contact with prospective users, updating them on progress, collecting input, aggregating feedback, and letting future users guide product development to the greatest extent possible.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
The origin of Carepass is a classic case of necessity being the mother of invention. Carepass cofounder, Stefanie Mederos, from who the idea for Carepass sprang, was a working mother of two little girls when, in 2016, while on maternity leave, realized that she was consistently having to cancel meetings and other obligations - even short ones nearby - because she was unable to secure child care. At the same time, she knew from her older daughter's preschool that - from bake sales to Friday pizza and all manner of other raffles - it was ALWAYS in search of extra income to help supplement tuition. At that moment, a lightbulb went off. Stefanie reasoned that - with the right technology-enabled solution - existing, licensed child care centers and preschools could fill that gap. When she explained her vision of an app that allowed parents to search for, book and pay for as much, or as little, backup/supplemental care as they needed, cofounders and Tony Hill and Igor Royzis (also parents) were instantly on board, and so Carepass was born.
All three cofounders come from very different professional backgrounds. Stefanie is an attorney, Tony spent the first ten years of his career in finance, and Igor boasts twenty years of software architecture experience, in addition to being a serial entrepreneur. Despite their diverse professional backgrounds, two things energized them to build Carepass and join the early childhood space: first, is their common love for children and ensuing desire to do something that can in any way make a positive difference for them, most of all for low-income families who face such a plethora of misunderstood challenges. Second, Stefanie, Tony and Igor were simply burnt out by their respective cut-throat, high-stress industries, and longed for a happier, more gratifying way of making a living. Carepass allows them to interact with and help the very people who are raising the next generation of adults (including their own kids!), which is a huge privilege and responsibility that makes them eager to jump out of bed every morning.
In terms of roles, Tony is CEO and focuses mainly on strategy, product roadmap, operations, and fundraising. As CTO, Igor leads Carepass' product team. Stefanie, our general counsel, has been invaluable in helping us navigate some of the thornier aspects of operating a child care service. Important strategic decisions are tackled as a team.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)
No, not yet. Carepass needs leadership, expertise and/or partners in marketing, digital marketing, design, operations, and fundraising. We also need to stand up a team of business development professionals (who we refer to as out Member Success Team) to canvas the nation's child care centers, pitch them on Carepass, and assist them with registration.
As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)
Currently, our greatest gap is in Marketing. If selected to receive mentorship support, we would be keen to collaborate on branding & positioning, content marketing, social media, marketing materials, and public relations. Ideally, in so doing, we could even be introduced to individuals who could join our team as we begin building a world-class organization.
Would you like mentoring support?
If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)
Predominantly in Marketing - everything from branding, messaging and storytelling to digital marketing, social media, and field marketing.
Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?
Yes, share my contact information
[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).
Tony Hill: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tony-hill-1437016/
Stefanie Mederos: https://www.linkedin.com/in/smederos/
Igor Royzis: https://www.linkedin.com/in/igorroyzis/
[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.
Screenshot of Care Provider Profile, which displays detailed information about any given child care center, including, but not limited to: contact info, hours of operation, description, rate card, license information, amenities and uploaded pictures.
Screenshot of Home screen which, when opened, by default displays available child care centers in user's geographic proximity.
Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)
As noted above, we found our mentorship to be invaluable. Among other things, our mentor, Min-Lin helped us delve deeper into the long-term, positive societal change Carepass could effect, giving us a clearer focus around our purpose, and how we articulate it, internally and externally.