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Hapu: Creating modern tribes to produce new solutions in childcare

With the right tools and framework, families have the power to create new, flexible, affordable solutions in childcare

Photo of Ben Marr
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Name or Organization

Hapu PTY Limited /


Hapu is currently based in Australia, however, our application is focused on our launch in the United States. Our defining principles come from our background and life in the Ngati Rangitihi tribe of New Zealand's Eastern Bay of Plenty.

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD


  • For - Profit

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.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

Hapu marries tribal thinking with modern technology and product design to empower parents to create new, flexible solutions in childcare via nanny share

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Hapu's platform connects families already hiring a nanny to families looking to share. In essence it is a 2-sided marketplace between parents. Our value to our market is in tools for connecting, management and payments. As a result we are classed as FinTech which gives us a light footprint for liability and great capacity for scale.

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)

Hapu aims to apply tribal principles and solutions to the very modern problem of lack of access to flexible and affordable childcare by empowering families to nanny-share. My grandmother, Olive Rangimotumotu Marr, was a prominent matriarch of the Ngati Rangitihi tribe of New Zealand’s Eastern Bay of Plenty, and a force to be reckoned with. She instilled a powerful reverence for her heritage to my father which he passed to me. Living with one foot in the modern world and another in the rich traditions of my father and grandmother has given me a unique perspective. A perspective able to see what’s present in one culture and absent in the other. This insight has brought me to develop Hapu, an application to empower families to work together much as my father’s tribe has done for the last 1000 years. Tribe’s work together for their own common good harnessing their common purpose as a people to do amazing things. But more than goodwill and common purpose it’s the framework and the rules and protocol by which they organise together that gives them their strength. And this is the innovation of Hapu. Hapu is a new framework by which families can organise together to create new solutions in childcare that work for themselves, for nannies and for their community.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

Families need childcare but are underserved by the market. Many families create their own childcare by hiring a nanny but the cost is high. Hapu aims to connect the latter to the former increasing availability and reducing costs for all while increasing a nannies pay.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Where my father has passed to me his Maori heritage he also passed to me his artistic ability as an art director. My career is in digital product design and I’ve brought to bear that discipline and creative thinking to solving this problem. In product design sometimes it is more important to understand what your product is not, over what it is. In this instance a nanny-share platform must understand why they are not In a service economy, the most obvious solution for a business is to facilitate and manage side-1 of the marketplace. For nanny-share it might be finding and verifying nannies and finding and matching host families to sharers. But there is a hidden trap there that Care has studiously avoided. Beyond an employer/employee arrangement (exemplified by Care’s model) things get tricky. Verification of multiple families, the nanny as well as the home, create a risk liability and verification load that is a brake on any attempt to scale. If it were otherwise, Care would be leveraging their vast list of nannies and families to facilitate such a platform. If that’s the case how can we create a solution and value proposition to the user that also allows for a sustainable business model? Well, Hapu looks beyond the traditional western mindset and service economy to our tribal roots in Maori culture to create value. And rather than hand holding, Hapu’s service model provides powerful tools to families to connect and manage a nanny share on their terms. We get out of the way to let families get on with the business of managing themselves. Just like a tribe does. This approach is based on our 3 tribal principles that we have defined by direct experience in tribal life and analysis of the tribe in action. Hapu Principle 1. Defined rules and protocol govern the actions of the group: In this respect, Hapu has created key features to protect the group from the whim of the individual. In nanny-share the dependencies of families for care and for the carer, their income, creates a fine balancing act that can be disrupted if one individual decides to rock the apple cart. In order to adhere to this principle of rules and protocol, Hapu has created a nominal hierarchy in the Host as leader while ensuring income protection via 2 weeks notice for cancellations and late fee processing. Hapu Principle 2. Acknowledgement of the group beyond one’s own immediate needs:
 This is the outcome of principle 1 where the individual, cognisant of the group’s governing foundation, adheres to the principles of the group prior to any disruption understanding the limitations of disruptive actions. An example is late fee processing. Rather than a source of contention it is simply a self-inflicted penalty and the individual in acknowledging the principle ensures they are never late Hapu Principle 3. A seamless system of monetary contribution by all to fund the activity of the group: This is ‘Koha’ - a fluid system of giving money unburdened by awkwardness or anxiety. An excerpt for Wikipedia - “The koha reflects the mana of both the giver and the recipient, reflecting what the giver is able to give, and the esteem they hold of the person or group they are making the gift to - and hence plays an important part in cementing good relations, and is taken very seriously.” This principle in action is seen in Hapu’s automated sharing of payments where we’ve moved all transactions to the background similar to Uber. Once joined participants need never talk (or argue about) money. There’s confidence and transparency to transactions via billing history and email receipts. In building our product around these features we’ve created a modern application of age old principles for not only governing the actions of the group but also a framework that ensures the success of the group. I believe there’s a reason that the obvious benefits of nanny-share aren’t a clear and easily accessible option for families searching for childcare. And it’s because I’ve seen what it takes to organise and maintain the group and their outcomes and it’s not simple common purpose and goodwill. Both are outcomes of process and protocol that maintain engagement and momentum. But it is the principles and governing framework that ensures the success and longevity of the group. This is where Hapu stands as the framework by which families can organise around for their benefit and their communities.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Our beneficiaries are not only the families who share costs and find greater flexibility by creating or finding care that's specific to their needs but Hapu can be a huge boon for nannies. Nannies can see a 45-50% increase in their income working with a family using Hapu. And our income protection features though structured to be handled by the Host has flow-on effects for the eventual recipient of that income. Additionally, a nanny can actually manage the share on behalf of the family, setting up the rates and structure with a new level of control over participating families.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

IMPACT: Hapu's goal is to fundamentally change how communities define working together and in that change see communities look to themselves first for solutions rather than waiting for solutions which may never come. In the modern world we’ve made great progress as our society has developed. But it’s come at a cost. We’ve lost the common framework by which we once organised together, for each other’s benefit. Now when faced with a common issue we revert to government or business for a solution, rather than each other. This leaves us feeling powerless as individuals and causes great stress on families. We’ve lost something and we’re not even sure what it ever was. Hapu aims to change that. We know what the modern world has lost by our own direct experience of the strength of tribal culture. And we’re going to bring it to the people in a manner in which they can directly engage and experience the value. We want to empower parents and families to solve each other’s problems and be the stronger for it. We want people to look back years later and discover that what was once missing is now a common part of their daily lives and that they are more empowered and fulfilled because of it. We want to change how society operates at a fundamental level and beyond even the confines of childcare solutions. Now is the time for the modern world to look to the past for solutions to its most intractable problem. Now is the time for Hapu!

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Our secondary user, Sharers, are defined by the family's inability to afford a nanny on their own. By building a volume of Hosts on our system we are opening up new low-cost options for families in need. And with our automated scaling rate functionality (see the attached pitch deck for scaling rates in action) costs continue to scale down the more children join. In some instances we could see hourly rates go as low as $6/h. Any increase in availability combined with a decrease in costs has more benefits than the obvious. Parents that can engage more actively with work without being held back by a lack of childcare means more money in the family budget and a more engaged and positive parent. As Hapu grows we are in a perfect position to begin feeding through educational components to our user base and to partner with educational institutions to help families provide robust curriculum to the children under care. Hapu is very careful about what problem we are trying to solve and aim first to solve how families can connect and work together. However, we have huge plans for how we can assist families once on our platform and assisting low income families find and access quality childcare is essential. Note: We have a partner submission with The Policy Equity Group and the Colorado Statewide Parent’s Coalition to adapt Hapu to Family, Friend and Neighbour care in low income Latino communities.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

There's outside the box thinking and then there's outside the idea of a box thinking. Hapu has outlined our innovation previously here -

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

By creating a 2 sided marketplace between parents Hapu avoids the potential pitfalls possible in an other models which allows us great potential for scale. Barriers to scaling however exist within our model. In reality Hapu is creating a 3-sided marketplace in that side-1 of the marketplace is a partnership between Host and Nanny. Imagine if an Uber driver needed the buy in and permission from his car. In this area we have work to do in locating the parent already hiring a nanny or the nanny already employed in order to build side-1 of our market. Once found we put the case to the parent that they can reduce their costs or to the nanny that they can increase their income. We have launch plans that include community outreach, digital marketing, nanny agency partnership and sponsored family or nanny brand ambassadors that spread the good word about how they’ve reduced their costs and increased their income. As to market size the numbers are difficult to ascertain. Statistical agencies list childcare jobs in the United States as 1 million+ but don’t delineate between centres and nannies. In creating a new market we have done modelling that provides enough incentive to pursue our model. Hapu is free to use for Hosts and we place a percentage booking fee on Sharers paying their Host, similar to Airbnb. We are confident in our ability to scale nationwide that a 4% booking fee on an average $300/week per sharer is a more than acceptable subscription fee in market terms.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

Our MVP is built and we’ve soft launched in Sydney, Australia. We have a fantastic development team offshore in Brazil that we’ve worked closely with over the last 6 months and well integrated into our work practices. We have strong processes in mapping out and designing new features and quality assurance procedures to test and verify outcomes and locate and deal with bugs. Our investors are engaged and are looking to see our growth over the next few months here at home. As we continue to evolve and engage with our users we will have access to new funds to help us grow. We have our first users and are developing our processes in terms of acquisition and outreach as described above. We have much more work to do beyond the initial MVP and have a backlog of features ready to develop further to make the user experience smoother and more engaging. The need is there and our first conversations with our Host users suggest as much. But there is further educating to do as we outline the benefits of Hapu and how our features will assist them now and for the long term. As we’ve outlined the educational component is a long game in that we are introducing tribal principles to a user base unfamiliar and in some instances, unable to see the benefits. The concern of users taking transactions offline is the concern of all startups in a 2-sided marketplace. Hapu has an extra step to take in one of our core principles is making the group strong for the long term. And in the short term it can be hard for some users to see those features as beneficial. Outside of the tribal experience its easy for an individual to say “We can do this ourselves.” But it’s not until the offline group hits a snag and the whole arrangement falls apart that it can become apparent the worth of Hapu. This educational component is a work in progress as we find the best ways to communicate this message. Presently the MVP website is very light on detail and how-tos and we need to build out our educational content asap if we are to effectively promote our benefits and engage our users. But we are excited and inspired to bring this message to Australia and the United States and to build the base and product of Hapu into a truly global brand and service.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

Our business model limits the risk and liability that is part and parcel of the childcare industry by positioning ourselves as FinTech. Hapu focuses on connecting parents and providing tools to automatically share costs and manage a nanny share. Forming our core product around parent-to-parent interaction frees up our business considerably and allows us to focus on easily scalable tools and functionality to assist families.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

Hapu interviewed key individuals and families to define our personas and build our product to service those needs (see Personas attached). In addition, Hapu brought analysis of tribal principles to bear analysing personal tribal experience and the larger tribe in action to define the principles on which the Hapu product was designed. It is this marriage of real world case studies and application of tribal principles that we believe puts our human centred design approach in a unique position. In analysing needs we define the parameters of the problem and the solution to come. But in applying the outside the box tribal thinking we believe we stand in a great position to deliver a solution that can rise above the more traditional approaches that have so far failed to solve the issues at hand.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

I was born in Sydney but grew up in a tribe. My father’s people are Ngati Rangitihi from New Zealand’s Eastern Bay of Plenty. My grandmother, Olive Rangimotumotu Marr, was a prominent matriarch of the tribe and a force to be reckoned with. She instilled a powerful reverence for her heritage to my father which he passed to me. And as I’ve experienced the two cultures in which I live it's been as an insider and outsider. That dual identity has given me a unique perspective. A perspective able to contrast what I’ve seen in tribal life with my other life here in Australia. And from a young age I’ve been trying to resolve the two in my head and heart and understand what’s present in one to determine what’s absent in another. I've used this insight to design and build Hapu, an app that helps 2, 3 or 4 families easily share the costs of a nanny. So that together parents and nannies can create flexible, affordable childcare. And it’s been surprising to me exploring tribal thinking in the design and development of this app. What surprised me most? If we can’t organise money successfully we can’t organise anything Maori have koha. It’s a fluid, simple system of giving money. And it’s unburdened by notions of awkwardness or anxiety. When it comes to the idea of sharing a nanny, money is the elephant in the room. Let's face it. There’s enough grief when we try and split a restaurant bill. A nanny's costs shared, week in week out, across two, three or four families with varied number of children per family can be a recipe for disaster. I knew that if we were to create a system we could all rely on then Hapu must solve this issue an make sharing payments an afterthought. A non issue. Like koha. Like Uber. And Hapu has. It’s this type of modern interpretation and application of tribal thinking that excites me. And it’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life. How can I bridge the divide between the two worlds in which I live? And the answer for me now, is Hapu.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

Hapu has a fantastic development and product team so in terms of software development we are well serviced. In moving forward to launch in the U.S. we would be looking for on the ground partners to assist us. We would also look to find a tech co-founder asap. As a sole founder I am an experienced UX/Product designer and with our development team we have worked well to define solutions, goals and deliver great software. But an engaged tech co-founder will put us on a surer footing moving forward.

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)

As mentioned a tech co-founder is a must. Beyond that we need help with marketing, growth and community and customer support. We're happy to focus our initial efforts on the home state of potential partners particularly if they are in a similar early stage but may not have their core software developed as we have.

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).

Ben Marr is a senior UX/UI Designer from Sydney, Australia. Self taught, Ben brings a unique approach to user experience and visual design always looking first to define the core of any experience outside of what's been done before. Rather than looking at what a prospective product might be similar to in the existing market, Ben asks first, how is this product different? And finds the truth and story for the product there.

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

Invision prototype of Web App -

[Optional] Video: You are invited to submit a 30-60 second video that introduces you and/or your team and your idea.

Hapu Explainer -


Join the conversation:

Photo of Merel de Boer

Very cool idea! As a mom of a 2year old, trying to find a nanny is Seattle seems impossible. High costs, endless interviews and still no other children to play with. Setting up a nanny-share is a lawyer-involved thing it seems (as a non-US citizen living in the US). I'd love to hear more as you develop Hapu :-)

Photo of Ben Marr

HI Merel! We'll be launching in the U.S. very soon. As we do I'll let you and all of Seattle know! :) Thanks for the comment.