The Inc. Community Coworking + Playschool - a supportive space where parents work, kids learn through play, and communities thrive.
The Inc. creates community-driven, neighborhood-centric work spaces for parents with quality, affordable childcare all under one roof.
Take a peek inside The Inc. and learn how we are innovating childcare, the early learning experience, and workspaces for parents to help young families and communities thrive.
Name or Organization
Legal name is Women's Business Incubator. EIN #: 47-4921866
The Inc. is located in Seattle, WA. Our first location is in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. After one year, we are beginning to explore other neighborhoods in the Greater Seattle area for expansion opportunities. We hope to eventually expand this model to other cities.
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.
Describe your submission in one clear sentence
The Inc., Community Coworking + Playschool aims to innovate the existing childcare and office structure models by creating community-driven, neighborhood-centric workspaces for parents with quality, affordable flexible care for children 0-5 all under one roof to help parents balance work and family more easily.
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
The Inc. is pioneering a unique solution to the high-demand of quality, flexible, affordable childcare in Seattle and shifting mindsets around work & family by fostering a positive, child-friendly workplace culture that inspires connection, confidence and growth for parents at any stage of their career development or entrepreneurial journey.
Select an Innovation Target
Business model: a better model with more effective structure or financing
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
The Inc., Community Coworking + Playschool aims to achieve gender equity in entrepreneurship, in the workplace and home through the creation of community-driven, neighborhood-centric workspaces that inspire connection, confidence and growth for parents and provides affordable, flexible care and a quality early learning experience for children ages 0-5 all under one roof.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
Through it's coworking with onsite childcare model, The Inc. aims to:
1) provide Seattle families with an affordable, flexible childcare option + a quality early learning experience for children ages 0-5
2) support parents with their shared home/childcare responsibilities so the burden of finding/managing childcare doesn't fall solely on mothers
3) lessen barriers for women in entrepreneurship & their careers so they can remain/return to the workforce or launch a new business more easily
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
The Inc., Community Coworking + Playschool aims to achieve gender equity in entrepreneurship, in the workplace and home through the creation of community-driven, neighborhood-centric workspaces for parents with quality, affordable, flexible care and an early childhood learning environment for their children 0-5 all under one roof.
The Inc. is pioneering this unique solution to the high-demand of quality, flexible, affordable childcare in Seattle and fostering a positive, child-friendly workplace culture that inspires connection, confidence and growth for parents at any stage of their career development or entrepreneurial journey.
The Inc.'s first location is in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle and has been open for a year since February 2017. There are three Playschool (onsite care) options for parents to choose from.
- Flexible, Play-Based Preschool Room: ages 2.5-PreK
- Toddler Playcare Room: steady walkers up to 2.5 yo
- Cowork/Coplay Community Room: parent-supervised "coffee-shop style" room for parents and babies/toddlers
Playschool pricing also includes access to a parent-only coworking room, meeting/phone room, break room, workshops, networking opportunities, free wifi, and free coffee/tea. Affordability and flexibility are key components to our model and is reflected in the pricing/scheduling structure for the coworking + playschool rooms.
The Inc. is currently open M-F 9a-1p and serves over 100 families (and growing). After piloting our program for a year in Greenlake, we are exploring expansion opportunities in other Greater Seattle area neighborhoods due to demand from other Seattle area parents wanting/needing our model closer to their own homes. The Inc.'s goal is to replicate our our coworking + childcare model in more neighborhoods by creatively setting up in existing, unused church spaces + other underutilized community spaces.
Our hope is that with the creation of more coworking + childcare spaces, we can redefine the existing work + early learning experience to be more supportive of families in the US, particularly middle-class and lower-income families where finding quality, affordable, flexible childcare is most burdensome for them as they seek to go launch new businesses, go back to school, or find new jobs.
The Inc. is a nonprofit org instead of a for-profit business as it seeks grants, donations and other types of funding to support its vision and mission to significantly lessen the high barrier of childcare in Seattle and elsewhere in the US for families particularly working mothers so they have a more equitable opportunity to thrive in entrepreneurship and in the workforce. The Inc. can use this additional funding towards expansion efforts within the Greater Seattle area neighborhoods, enhance entrepreneurship program, and develop a sliding-scale membership model to broaden support for lower-income parents and student parents.
See the inside of The Inc.'s Greenlake space and learn more about what we are doing via the links below:
- Seattle preschool allows moms and kids to work side-by-side (King 5 News, May 11, 2017)
- Co-working meets childcare: How this business incubator is supporting working moms (GeekWire, March 23, 2017)
Women’s Business Incubator offers flexible office space and childcare for parents re-entering workforce (Q13 Fox, March 2, 2017)
- Co-Working Plus Child Care: Local Nonprofit Plans Two Events for Working Parents (ParentMap, October 26, 2016)
A co-working space — with sippy cups (Crosscut, March 28, 2017)
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
Parents particularly mothers of children 0-5 years old are the main beneficiaries of our innovative model. Balancing work and childcare for young children can be incredibly challenging with the existing structures in place. Full-time childcare is expensive, inflexible, and may not even be readily available (as many childcare centers have years-long waitlists), forcing families to compensate in various ways: hire a nanny, ask for family support, have a parent make the complex choice to stay at home, drastically reduce their hours or work remotely, or perhaps even launch a new business or career that is more flexible with their childcare needs. However, as more flexible jobs and entrepreneurship grows in the US (https://www.fastcompany.com/3049532/heres-why-the-freelancer-economy-is-on-the-rise) and more parents make these types of career choices, there are rarely any flexible, childcare options to fulfill their needs.
We are seeing these challenges in Seattle especially as the city changes with new families arriving every month led by one spouse's job opportunity and leaving their partner to search on their own for a new career, community and childcare for their family while other families are dealing with the lack of affordable housing and affordable childcare and are struggling to remain in the city.
Both groups of parents benefit from The Inc. because they have a supportive space and community of like-minded parents to connect with both professionally and personally.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
In our first year, The Inc. has helped over 100 families in the Greater Seattle area seeking flexible, affordable childcare & the supportive space to work remotely, study & network with other working parents. See below for member feedback:
- Serena W. "Because I work in the medical field, I have odd hours and it's hard to have childcare at a specific time. Having The Inc. as option to get my work done and have drop off is amazing. Remote work is hard, because I don’t typically have co workers to interact with. But here at The Inc. it’s nice to have that sense of professional environment and meeting new people."
- Stephanie C., "The Inc. provided an opportunity for me to be close to my son and be able to do work at the same time. It also allowed him to interact with kids his own age which I think is very important. As an independent contractor, you don't want to overbook a childcare before work comes in. I didn't want to find a full-time nanny if I’m only working a few hours a week because it’s not cost effective."
- Jessica P., "It’s been really nice to have flexible childcare available as my work changes and floats. Because my work is project based and so sometimes there’s a lot of things to do and sometimes there aren't."
- Cassie D., "I thought The Inc. was a perfect place for me to check out as I was getting overwhelmed in school and at home. It has been really amazing because I finally got a chance to balance school, work & my kid
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
As The Inc. grows and raises funds, we seek to support a wider range of families and create more impact by offering sliding-scale memberships for low-income parents and student parents who are in need of career support (such as job training/placement, mentorship, resume help), a productive study environment, or parenting/family support (parent ed classes) with quality, flexible, affordable care for their children 0-5.
We feel that when we are able to effectively impact lower-income parents positively, then they can in turn impact their children more positively as well. With additional funding we can hire more early learning educators and specialists to continue to refine The Inc.'s Playschool (our early learning + childcare program) and give more low-income children the opportunity for quality early childhood education while their parents are working nearby.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)
The Inc.'s nonprofit coworking with onsite childcare is innovative because it's pioneering a unique solution to the high-demand of quality, flexible, affordable childcare in Seattle while also fostering a positive, child-friendly workplace culture that inspires connection, confidence and growth for parents at any stage of their career development or entrepreneurial journey.
The Inc. is filling in the childcare gaps for parents particularly mothers who need the supportive network to work, launch a business idea or go back to school during the early years of their children's lives. The Inc. provides much needed support during this transitional stage of early family life and is helping to lessen the high childcare barrier so parents particularly mothers can ultimately thrive at work or when starting a business in a more sustainable manner.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
The Inc. has potential to scale by working with neighborhood groups, community leaders and city officials to bring this unique coworking and onsite childcare model to areas where underutilized community spaces exist and where the need/impact is great. We can scale by identifying a neighborhood with a strong community of members to bring a new Inc. location to life. We can support them in staff management, marketing/outreach, events/workshops and operations.
A number of Inc. locations could exist within the Greater Seattle area depending on the availability of under-utilized church spaces and the needs of each hyper-local community. This could eventually scale into other cities across the US as finding quality, affordable, flexible childcare is an issue across the nation.
Every location could be sustainable based upon our membership model. As we scale though, we need to continually refine processes, operations, and branding to ensure all locations can optimally run to serve each community.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
FEASIBILITY: The Inc.'s coworking with onsite childcare model has proven itself within its first year of launching that the need for quality, flexible, affordable childcare is high in the Greater Seattle area and beyond. In our first year of piloting the program, we have served over 100 families so far and have laid the foundation operationally in our first location to set us up for successful implementation in other neighborhoods. By focusing on creating a great member experience in our first location to create loyal advocates, working closely with our Playschool team to ensure quality care & an early learning experience, connecting with city officials and communicating with neighborhood community groups online, we have built momentum and interest from parents across the Seattle area to expand.
As a nonprofit org, it's feasible for us to expand into other neighborhoods by setting up in under-utilized Churches and other community spaces because they offer more affordable leases (versus commercial spaces) and already have the childcare rooms that we need. We can pre-sell memberships for a new location to cover startup costs and set up for financial stability quickly.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)
VIABILITY: The Inc.'s coworking with onsite childcare model is viable because of the high demand for quality, flexible, affordable childcare for children ages 0-5 is high in the Greater Seattle area & beyond. With infant care more expensive than the yearly tuition at the University of WA and availability to even get into a full-time childcare center is low (most centers have year-long waitlists), families are forced to make complex decisions about childcare and career where most of the burden is generally placed upon women giving them less time to focus on their careers, launch businesses, etc.
Even when parents are able to create a more flexible work schedule so they can minimize childcare costs by working at home, part-time childcare is still needed yet very difficult to find so the struggle to manage childcare continues.
The Inc. offers a creative solution to this problem by providing a supportive space where all parents can maximize their time as workers and as parents especially during the first five years of their children's lives where bonding time is so critical.
As the American workplace becomes more flexible and the workforce changes (where according to an Intuit study that by 2020 about 40% of the workforce will be independent contractors https://www.fastcompany.com/3049532/heres-why-the-free), we need to start looking at how to change childcare to support this growing group of flexible workers - many of which are parents - so more families can thrive.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)
At The Inc., we are nothing without our community. We have built this model based on the needs of the members who use our space and are constantly iterating the model based on the community's feedback. We have used online and in-person surveys to gather feedback regarding our pricing, Playschool structure, rebranding (we rebranded about half way through our initial year), and workshops/networking events. We have also conducted short interviews with our members to gain insight into why/how they use our space as well as to share their stories to help The Inc.'s marketing and fundraising efforts.
As we grow and expand, we hope to incorporate user experience maps to enhance our website and streamline our registration/booking/invoicing process.
Below is a link to a few surveys we've done to get feedback regarding our preschool room and expansion plans. Attached are pictures of member stories as well as a link of our original crowdfunding video before we opened our space compared to our recent crowdfunding video to see how we have refined our concept.
Preschool Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P3P7F6H
Most recent crowdfunding video released in Dec. 2017 to help with raising funds to expand hours, locations and programming.
Original crowdfunding video released in Nov. 2016 to help with raising funds for opening a space in Greenlake.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
The Inc.'s coworking with onsite childcare idea evolved from our original name and idea, Women's Business Incubator. Our founder & visionary Marnee Chua created the Women's Business Incubator in 2015 as a nonprofit to help women overcome barriers they face in business such as childcare but also access to funding, finding female mentors, business training opportunities, etc.
When Women's Business Incubator found a location in Seattle for its coworking with onsite childcare space and opened its doors in Feb. 2017, it realized in its initial months that the community it was building was focused primarily on the flexible childcare piece of the model while the other barriers that Women's Business Incubator wanted to overcome weren't as immediately important. By Oct 2017, our nonprofit pivoted and with the help and feedback of our community, we were able to hone our messaging, focus on being a childcare solution for flex working parents and rebranded as The Inc., Community Coworking + Playschool.
While supporting women's entrepreneurship is still an important value of The Inc., our rebrand to a gender-neutral name is significant because we want to promote that finding/managing childcare is an important task that falls on BOTH parents and not just mothers. In order to achieve gender equity in entrepreneurship, in the workplace and home we need both parents to share childcare management for their families.
It's exciting to create not only a new way and space for flex working parents to work, but a new way for parents to be close to their young children and be an active part of their early childhood learning experience. By being in closer proximity to their children while they work, parents can more easily participate in their child's room and activities when they can, meet & socialize with other parents and children and create important connections that not only can help them professionally but also help against postpartum depression and feelings of isolation. Lastly, mothers can more easily continue with breastfeeding which has its own health benefits for both mothers and children.
While our Playschool staff and management team (bios can be found http://www.theinccoworking.org/en/page/team) focuses on creating a welcoming, fun, enriching play-based, emergent learning experience for our preschoolers and toddlers, the children in our space also benefit from seeing their parents more often in the day. This increased visibility helps children view their parents as positive role models of women working outside the home and of healthy partnerships.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)
We need partners who could help us elevate our concept and bring it more quickly and efficiently to other neighborhoods in Seattle and beyond. Partners who are looking to connect more directly with families and show their support of helping families and local communities thrive in a unique way. Partners in tech (web/mobile design, software development), finance, small business, family friendly policy-making, early childhood education can help us refine our current offerings and expand quickly.
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)
PARTNERS in tech (web/mobile design, software development), finance, small business, family friendly policy-making, early childhood education, licensing/affiliate business structure, communication/marketing that can help us refine our current offerings and expand quickly to other Seattle neighborhoods and beyond.
ADVOCATES who understand what we are trying to do and who will help amplify our message and talk to their local policymakers to help make coworking with onsite childcare a standard option for working parents.
PATRONS/DONORS/CORPORATE SPONSORS who are interested in directly supporting working families, working women and early childhood education and whose funding can help The Inc. increase/refine its programming, build/develop our staff, streamline processes and improve the member experience, and expand into other neighborhoods.
Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]
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).
The Inc.'s website: www.theinccoworking.org
The Inc. on Facebook and Instagram: @theinccoworking
The Inc. team: http://www.theinccoworking.org/en/page/team
The Inc.'s Board of Directors: http://www.theinccoworking.org/en/page/boardofdirectors