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WeeCare - the simplest way to start and manage a successful home daycare

Making affordable, quality daycare accessible to all families.

Photo of Jessica
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

N/A

Name or Organization

WeeCare, Inc.

Geography

We are based in Venice, CA and have been implementing our platform in southern California. We are looking to expand to other cities and states in the near future.

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD

Type

  • 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

WeeCare empowers caregivers start and manage successful home daycare businesses to address the high cost and undersupply of childcare across the U.S and to create sustainable income sources for our providers.

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

It's no secret that teachers are severely underpaid, especially given the importance of their work. WeeCare enables these teachers, caregivers, and "parent-prenuers" to earn up to $90,000/year by running their own home daycare businesses. Our technology platform empowers individuals with no business experience to run successful daycares and contribute to their communities. By addressing the supply of daycares in the United States, we're also creating affordable options for parents to find licensed childcare professionals equipped with the best tools and training in early education.

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)

WeeCare has a two prong approach to the home daycare industry for parents and caregivers. We want to create the new standard for early childcare by using technology and refocus those early years out of a home daycare. By providing a platform for both parents and providers, we seamlessly make it easier for parents to find and enjoy affordable, quality care while making it possible for providers to start & manage their own quality home daycare. From a provider standpoint, WeeCare provides a business-in-a-box toolset to help them get licensed, enroll children into their care, manage finances and simplify operations, all in one platform. WeeCare’s solution relieves caregivers from the burdens of running a small business, so they can focus on providing quality care. From a parent standpoint, they can easily use our marketplace to find, pay a deposit and enroll their child. Once their child is enrolled, they can pay, receive moments and track daily activities of their children. Our innovation is to simplify and streamline the process, so there are more quality daycares accessible to families and great caregivers have the opportunity to start their own business and provide care that children deserve.

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

The early childcare community is underserved in the number of daycares & the quality of daycares available. At the same time, teachers and caregivers in this industry are overqualified and underpaid. We are addressing both sides of the issue by helping teachers and caregivers start daycares and for parents to get access to more daycares with the help of a technology platform.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

The impetus of our idea stems from our personal poor experiences in gaining access to quality care and our experiences operating preschools. So many daycares are operated poorly, charge high tuitions, and are not easily accessible to families. For so many parents, this experience is not uncommon. So how do we begin to solve the issue? For the WeeCare founders the solution was simple: help qualified caregivers open quality daycares in their homes, simplify daily operations, and build a marketplace for their facilities to be discovered. By focusing on the supply side of this marketplace we could more easily control the quality of daycares parents would find, and more so, the ease at which they could interact with these incredible caregivers. From there the WeeCare mission drove our strategy to simplify the process for caregivers and to test our idea. More than 50 experienced providers have joined our platform and are currently opening licensed daycares across southern California. The platform allows caregivers to focus on caregiving and for us to streamline the licensing, operations, business practices, and parent relations. In turn, they are taught from the start on best practices and how to provide quality early childcare. But, let's not forget about the demand part of our marketplace. There currently does not exist a marketplace dedicated to family daycare. Other than having a license, and the occasional Yelp review, there is also no common benchmark for quality of care. Each WeeCare partner that opens their doors is an opportunity for deserving families to discover and interact using WeeCare technology. Our platform provides the kind of transparency and trust that parents cannot find elsewhere. Parents will also rest assured that all WeeCare providers who make it into our marketplace go beyond state requirements, and are implementing world-class early childhood care and education.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

We believe both parents and caregivers will benefit from our platform. We've taken the complicated tasks of licensing, enrollment, operations, curriculum and professional development for caregivers and turned them into a clear and concise program. In turn a WeeCare provider can go from being a underpaid caregiver to a thriving business owner & community leader in a matter of months. Because we empower these caregivers to start exemplary daycares from their homes, families are now able to discover and enroll their children in quality daycares right within their community. Not only are these daycares set at a higher standard, they are usually closer and more affordable than current infant or preschool options in their community. As a team, we have aligned our talents in order to provide our marketplace with innovation and experience in childcare. CEO Jessica Chang has a degree in early childhood development and is a mother, an operations expert and owner of two preschools. She brings her early childcare knowledge and operations expertise to help set best practices and solutions that solve real problems that the industry faces. Our product and technical solutions are lead by Jesse Forrest and Matt Reilly who bring their superlative knowledge of intuitive user experience, marketplace optimization, and engineering innovation to our marketplace. There has never been a product, program, or platform solely dedicated to the betterment of early childcare from the ground up.

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

We’ve been quietly testing our platform in southern California, but believe this idea is easily scalable to other cities nationwide. Access to early childcare is a problem all over the United States and the world. For every 3 kids that needs access to daycare, only 1 spot is available nationwide. We are addressing this issue heads on by creating affordable, quality daycares accessible to all families. Our goal, over the next 10 years, is to open 1 million home daycares to satisfy the demand of early childcare needs. One million quality daycares in communities across the country serving over five million families each day. That is our goal. With each new opening of a daycare, we enrich communities through quality care, and by empowering local small business to thrive. When families thrive, communities thrive. We correlate quality and reliable child care to peace of mind for busy parents, striving to provide for their families. By giving fulfilling work to passionate caregivers, we develop not only intelligent entrepreneurs, but dedicated community leaders. It's a chain reaction proven to strengthen the fabric of family, community, and security for a brighter future for our most precious commodity: our kids.

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

WeeCare's mission is to give work and access to caregivers and families everywhere. We believe safe and quality child care should not be cost prohibitive to any family, and that every community should be given access to these services. We also believe that all qualified caregivers should be given every opportunity and resource to operate a successful childcare business. Half of our caregivers start out as nannies providing care for wealthy families, while at night, they return home to their low-income communities. We constantly hear heartfelt stories from these caregivers who dream to start a daycare that could actually help their communities. Now, through WeeCare’s help, that dream has become a reality. Not only can they start their daycares in their community, but they can also be paid the money they deserve. On top of that, we provide the resources for them to enroll in government subsidy programs for licensing help, food and to accept government subsidized chidren into their daycare. For low-income families, they will have access to quality care in their community. Not only is it more affordable than preschool options, but we also provide the toolset for them to use government subsidy to pay for their childcare. We make it easy for them to find the right resources in their community to enroll and then to search for daycares that accept government subsidy; making it easier and accessible for families that need care but can’t afford it.

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

Many of the early education toolsets focus on one thing, either operations, finding daycares or education and they don’t tackle the larger issue of not enough quality supply. Our platform is aimed to combine everything together so its one platform to address all. We’ve made it so simple to use that it is also scalable and applicable to not just one community, but to every community in the United States. By doing so, we address the larger issue at hand, solving supply and creating access to more quality daycares. We aren’t reinventing the daycare industry, but we are changing the perception of how parents and caregivers view home daycares. We want home daycares to be the center for children during their early years, to make it feel like home, to make it easy for parents to have access to, to make it neighborly and the center of a community and to make it a balance between education and play. In order to do so, we had to remove frictions that parents and caregivers were having about the home daycare industry. Before we started our company, we went out and interviewed 50+ parents and subsequently, 50+ daycares across the nation. The biggest takeaway from both sessions was focused on simplicity and connecting both sides seamlessly. Thus, we went out to create a platform for both parents and caregivers. We made it simple for caregivers to start a daycare and to operate their daycare and for parents to find a daycare and manage their day to day daycare interactions.

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

In the US, there are currently 690,000 home daycares, but what the market needs is actually 2,000,000 home daycares just to satisfy the demand of early childcare needs. Our goal is to open 1,000,000 home daycares in 10 years. In order to do so, we first need to prove out market feasibility in our current backyard, southern California. We have 50 home daycares that are in the process of getting licensed or are already opened. We plan to expand to more parts of California before we tackle other states. As we scale, we envision a roadmap that consists of strategically scouting out different cities based on early childcare demand, supply, income, household size, etc. Each state would have its own licensing process, but most of them are very similar and California is actually one of the hardest in the US. We’ve identified a couple of cities/ states that we would like to target next and envision hiring a general manager for each state we would enter. Our focus is to keep our daycares hyperlocal when we enter a new state and then have it spread out from each focus city. Our business model is based on a % service fee off of the tuition processed. Based on our first couple of daycares opened, we break-even within 3 months and every month going forward is revenue for our bottom line which makes it easier for us to scale and find financial sustainability.

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

In July 2017, we came together as a team of 3 co-founders to do market research and finalize our idea. From there, we took on external funding from venture capital investors. Starting in September 2017, we went out with our idea and started to attract interested caregivers to start their daycare and to start building the product. We are currently based inside of an incubator and plan to move into our offices by March 2018. Our first complete version of our product was built out in December and our first daycare opened in December 2017. As of the start of February 2018, our team is currently composed of 3 founders, CEO, CPO/ CMO and CTO and 6 other employees. We have 3 engineers, 2 relationship managers and 1 education manager. With this team, we believe we can expand to help serve at least 500 daycares utilizing our platform and from there will raise additional rounds of capital to expand and prove out our business model. We’re proving out our business model works for new daycares and parents in southern California using version 1 of our platform. Over the next couple of months, we plan to iterate and expand our product offering and move to various other cities in California. After the next round of funding, our goal is to expand into other states and implement our expansion strategy.

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

We believe our platform is very viable for the United States. Our first goal is to prove out that it can work in one city. We’ve focused on finding quality caregivers by making them go through a rigorous application process. After which, we guided them through the opening process through our automated platform. Afterwards, we focused on finding parents that would enroll into their children into these daycares and to have these daycares filled in a short amount of time. We’ve proved that we can get daycares open and filled. We’ve proved that parents and providers are both satisfied and our model is financially sustainable. Now, our focus is to build out our marketplace and streamline the onboarding process from both sides so we can expand into other cities. Since all our daycares are licensed, they will need to follow each state’s licensing process. Thus, our go to market strategy will go state to state vs nationwide. We believe this allows us to limit our risks, find the right locations and allow us to succeed and sustain in each market before expanding outwards.

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

At this stage in our business, the philosophy behind everything we build is, "does this save the daycare providers time and simplify operations". We landed on this philosophy during the customer development phase of business planning, where we learned that daycare providers feel like they have no time to enjoy their lives, and suffer from child care ‘burnout’. After more than 50 interviews, we observed that during the day, caregivers focused solely on providing care, which left only nights and weekends to focus on management of the business, including everything from tuition and billing to activity planning and marketing. Ultimately this left them burnt out and eventually the quality of care suffered as a result. With that in mind, we're rebuilding every tool in the ecosystem in a way that empowers both new and existing daycare providers, savvy business owners and non, to start and manage a successful home daycare business that provides the flexibility and freedom of a 9 to 5.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

Our idea was born out of Jessica Chang's struggle to find quality daycare for her infant Teddy. Throughout her search, which was difficult to conduct in itself, she was met with daycare facilities that not only lacked in quality and optimal location, but were also astronomically expensive for the care they provided. Many of them had waitlists of over a year and directors that made parents jump over hoops just to get in. And yes, through her research, parents had become accustomed to these unsatisfactory conditions to childcare. It was extremely frustrating and as someone who was in the business of restructuring companies and making them more efficient, she made it her mission to solve this issue not just for her son, but for every frustrated parent. Using her previous degree in early childhood development psychology from UC Berkeley, she went out to learn more about the industry. She quickly realized that it wasn't just the bad parent experience, the schools themselves had many problems as well. Many of the preschools were not well funded and lacked the infrastructure to properly compensate the teachers that were part of the facilities. Many teachers made such a low wage that they couldn't even afford to send their own children to the schools they were teaching at. As such, she put on her finance and investment hat and went ahead and invested her own personal savings to acquire two preschools. She went in, rolled up her sleeves and operated the schools day in and day out. Over the next year, after trial and error and a ton of interviews (both teachers and parents), she was able to successfully restructure the schools and bring them to profitability. With this knowledge in tow, she quickly realized there was a larger opportunity at play and a bigger goal to solve in the early childhood space. Having worked in technology companies prior, she decided to partner with her two co-founders, one that new how to grow marketplaces and another who knew how to build the product behind it and was personally affected having had a teacher as a mother. After months of brainstorming and more interviews, the initial team came to a realizations that our focus would be on home daycares and we needed a lot more quality home daycares. We realized that the early childcare industry was split between childcare centers and home daycares. The home daycare industry was much larger and easier to scale given the low startup cost and the timely licensing process. On top of that, there were very limited quality daycares in existence and many of their best practices were not shared with the community. As such, we made it our goal and passion to solve the issue at hand and create affordable, quality daycares accessible to all families. For every quality daycare that we can help open, the closer we are to solving the early childcare crisis.

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

We have a great team of engineers, relationship managers and education specialists. We also have a group of investors that are especially excited about the early childcare industry. Many of them have young kids of their own. On top of that, we have a talented group of advisors, CEOs of billion dollar companies, visionaries in the education space with their own books and experts that no how to navigate government licensing and subsidy programs.

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)

We are constantly looking for partners and advisors that can help us navigate the early childcare space, especially when we expand to other cities and states. We are looking for visionaries that would help advise us on the next big steps for early childcare, specifically in curriculum and how children learn. We would like to gain more insight on the importance of social and emotional learning and how that can be incorporated into family daycares. We'd also want more knowledge of how to refine our process of teaching caregivers how to teach and what the best medium is to transfer that knowledge to them. We are also looking for great partners that can help us scale. Partners that would assist in our licensing approval process, such as healthcare technology companies that can come to the home to perform immunizations and give TB tests. Consumer technology partners that could provide food programs that are aligned with state criteria, but also go above and beyond on providing quality food to children and have them delivered fresh to the daycare provider. Traditional education partners that can provide monthly bundles of materials for kids tailored to weekly activity programs. Corporate partners that are looking for childcare benefits to offer employees that can't have access to daycares in their offices. Finally, we are looking for influential educators and foundations that understand and can influence government bodies and how they affect the future of early childhood development.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • No

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters) [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

N/A

Mentorship: How was your idea supported? [Relevant only for our early submission participants] (1500 characters)

N/A

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).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-chang-1010402/ https://www.weecare.co

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

One of the features of the WeeCare app is to give caregivers the ability to share photos during their work day. It allows for parents to stay informed of what their children are doing at daycare. We've made it so simple for providers to communicate with parents that it promotes consistent communication since it only takes 5 seconds to share a moment. We have many other features that go along with that same philosophy of simplifying the experience for both parents and providers.

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Photo of May Aldwais
Team

I love this idea and I
was thinking of a similar business idea a few years ago! Glad to see others working on this idea. Good luck!

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