These Parent-Focused Startups Are Changing the Game for Moms and Dads
By Ross Kimbel, co-founder of Be Curious Partners (originally published on Medium)
As a dad to a four-year-old and 19-month-old, I’m in the “trenches”, as they say, of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, we love our children more than anything, as all parents do, and can’t imagine not having our family, but we’re definitely in the thick of it from sleepless nights to sicknesses and everything parenthood has thrown our way. It’s hard to even imagine what life was like before kids and how much simpler it was (which of course you can’t appreciate until after you have a busy family life!). I know I’m not alone here.
Despite four blurry days in the hospital, I vividly remember the first day my wife and I got home with our first baby: we had a room full of everything from swaddles to swings, more than enough products and places to PUT our baby, but we quickly realized what we needed most were services and resources to help us in this new journey of parenthood. The questions and doubts were relentless:
“Why isn’t she sleeping?”
“How do I know when she’s crying because she’s hungry or she needs a nap?”
“Where can we get new clothes because our nine-pound newborn doesn’t fit in any of the size NB clothes we had for her?”
“Are we the first new parents to be shocked by this?!”
Our experience wasn’t unique; most new parents are hit with these and countless other hurdles as they grapple with bringing a newborn home and navigating their new lives together. And this is what we at Be Curious Partners are passionate about: solving these and the other needs for parents that are essential in their day-to-day lives. We’re not talking about frivolous products that are “nice-to-haves” but the solutions to real pains throughout parenthood that ultimately empower and make life easier for parents.
The challenges of parenthood are bountiful and some of the best entrepreneurs know that means they’re worth solving. That’s why we love and invest in this space.
We also invest in this space because as more and more millennials start families, they’ll look for solutions to like they had pre-kids. It’s a very ripe opportunity for huge growth and innovation.
According to a Google case study, dads are joining moms in the quest for accessible online resources that provide valuable parenting content and support. Which is no wonder as this is the generation that has come of age with new solutions to staunchy industries. Which is why more startups should view the parenting space as ripe territory to build solutions to a huge consumer (and devoutly loyal) population.
Anytime we consider making an investment in a company, the first thing we ask is: “what problem related to parenting is being solved?” By that we mean, how does the company support parents in the act of being parents as well in living their daily lives? Below are some of the companies in our portfolio and a look at the solutions they’re bringing forth.
Problem: Many new parents feel overwhelmed in the early years, whether they’re having their first child or their fifth. Between making the right food choices, questions about sibling rivalry and overcoming the hurdles of bedtime, parents need community and understanding.
Solution: Motherly is a “mom life manual” — a media platform with helpful advice, breaking news relevant to parenting young children, and fun posts that explore everything from gift ideas to planning a great date night (who has time for that?). Motherly even offers convenient online parenting classes for busy parents who don’t have the time to fit another thing into their schedule. Unlike existing media platforms, Motherly was founded with the millennial parents in mind, built and created by millennial moms who wanted this platform for themselves.
Problem: Shopping for clothes is a battle for parents. Between mid-aisle tantrum-throwing and endless attitude, most parents are fed up with the task.
Solution: Kidbox was created to take the hassle out of shopping by “bringing the fitting room to the living room” adds Kidbox CEO, Miki Berardelli. A wardrobe service, Kidbox is designed for kids only and uses innovative smart-learning tools to make suggestions for parents based on previous purchases, returns and sizing charts.
In addition to offering themed boxes for kids and babies, such as uniforms, summer-ready boxes, and “Kidsentials,” Kidbox is a purchase parents can feel good about. Millennials, the fastest growing population of parents, have historically disrupted the traditional market by demanding greater social responsibility efforts from brands. Kidbox is delivering by giving new clothes to a child in need for every box kept.
Problem: In Atlanta, where I am based, my parent friends and I joke when you find out you’re expecting the first call is to the doctor and the second call is to the preschool child care centers to get on the wait list. This may sound unbelievable, but it’s a common problem for parents of young children in most metropolitans around the US.
In many urban markets, there are more families where both parents choose to go back to work than to be a stay at home spouse. According to a PEW Research report, moms are spending more time in the labor force than in the past, but also more time on child care. We’re not sure how this is sustainable. Both moms and dads are increasingly focused on early childhood education and quality childcare, whether at home or in a daycare facility. Unfortunately, the costs and accessibility of child care and early childhood education continue to be a barrier, particularly for households in which there is a sole breadwinner. Even if cost isn’t an issue, finding immediate placement is rare.
Solution: Enter Wonderschool, a unique startup focused on connecting families with in-home preschools near them, hosted by educators with deep experience in teaching and child care. Wonderschool gives educators the tools needed to launch and run a successful in-home childcare and early education business while connecting parents to affordable, local resources. Wonderschool is in 10 markets including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City — and scaling fast.
Problem: As much as parents would like it to, the world doesn’t stop when children arrive. But, children also don’t stop needing a connection with mom and dad despite the world’s demands. This is why Caribu, a video calling and story time app, has become a leading resource for traveling parents.
Solution: Caribu is a video calling meets e-reader meets coloring book platform. Perfect for parents in the military, extended family, mentors, or parents on a trip far from home, Caribu lets loved ones connect with children, read bedtime stories, and even draw within the app. For many families, Caribu has transformed long-distance bedtime and story time into a positive bonding event.
Changing the Future of Parenting Small Children
We are part of a growing group of investors passionate about this space. This is good for our industry, but we believe it is even better for families. When parents (of any age) have the resources needed to both be successful at raising children and providing for their family, communities grow. Children feel connected and supported by their parents and, in turn, parents can lean on supportive services when needed. Our fund has been at it for just seven months and we are energized by the companies, parents, and entrepreneurs we’ve gotten to know.
With 1.2 millennial moms becoming first time parents each year, it’s clear that this space will continue to offer both opportunities for startups looking to solve the challenges of parenthood and parents who are eager to bring these solutions into the fabric of their families. We are grateful to be part of the process in reinventing parenthood.