November 6, 2014
When Patrick Matos and his wife gave birth to their second daughter, they had recently moved to a new city. The duo expected to find an app or website that would help them navigate the local child care programs, but they turned up nothing; finding a child care center first hand was a nightmare for them.
There are so many specifics that go into finding the right fit for your child, like a licensed facility, a nearby location, within budget restrictions, and teaching philosophies. At best, according to Matos, there were daycare directories, but parents had to do all of the heavy lifting and call dozens of centers asking the same questions over and over.
The wife and husband pair were already a team in raising children, and this was the final straw that pushed them to team up on the entrepreneurial front to solve this pain point. Thus, they built CareLuLu, a marketplace that connects parents with licensed daycares and preschools.
“Our goal is to simplify the child care search process that most parents go through,” says Matos. “There’s surprisingly little information on child care programs online, and no single place where parents can find all the information they need and easily compare options.”
Instead of having the parents do all the leg work, CareLuLu parents can do a personalized search to quickly find the perfect daycare for their family in terms of budget, hours, age of their child, and even a peanut-free environment depending on allergies. They initially launched in Washington DC, but this past summer the Matos family made the move to San Francisco to participate in 500 Startups’ Batch 10 of startup comapnies. They’ll officially be calling the Bay Area home for the next few years.
“We’ve had an overwhelming positive reaction from parents and child care providers alike. The reaction can be seen by the dozens of articles and blogs that have been written about us by mom bloggers and writers who understand the important problem we’re solving,” says Matos. “Parents send us emails like ‘CareLuLu is a Godsend’, or ‘I never would have found my caregiver without your help.’ These messages from parents make all the hard work worth it.”
It’s important to note that most of the child care providers CareLuLu works with are small businesses that don’t have any sort of online presence. The team is actually helping parents discover new daycare options, and then they help these providers grow their business.
“Marketplaces are growing and consumers more and more research on goods and services online,” says Matos. “Up to now, parents had to do research on child care programs largely through word of mouth, calling up places, and visiting facilities in person. That is changing drastically, especially since a lot parents searching for child care now are millennials who use the internet for everything.”
Analyzing these trends has been an incredibly important aspect of success for the married co-founders as it’s allowed them to position themselves well in an emerging market. A lot of these child care providers aren’t very tech savvy, but the CareLuLu crew wants to help them acclimate in an effort to help everybody out there with kids of their own solve this problem in their life.
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