This is my third Mums in Business feature in the series and I am so excited to be back this week with another Mum in Business. So far I have been overwhelmed with the success of the series, especially the number of Mums of want to be featured. It goes to show that there are a lot of Mums who have set up their own businesses to work around their children and childcare arrangements. I’m also impressed by just how many people have taken a giant leap in making a new career, and making it work for them.
So without further ado this week I’m excited to be featuring Rachel from Koru Kids who set-up her own business to help working families with their childcare arrangements, after realising her own childcare struggles once returning to work.
Tell us a little bit about you, your background and Koru Kids?
I am the founder and CEO of Koru Kids, a childcare startup. I had my first baby when I was CEO of DrThom.com
, a business that was turning over £20m per year and growing fast. We needed to find excellent childcare.
This turned out to be surprisingly difficult. In the end, my husband and I found an amazing, relatively affordable childminder nearby. If she’d not been available, though, we would have been stuck.
Koru Kids has the broad mission of supporting working families with their childcare. Working parents of young kids are probably the most stressed, exhausted people on the planet. Currently, parents—usually, the mum—patch together their childcare arrangements in stolen moments late at night. We’re building Koru Kids to be the ‘glue’ holding everything together, providing childcare directly alongside ancillary services. Our first focus is ‘nanny share’, solving the problem of the expense of flexible care for babies and toddlers, and we’ve also developed a particular strength in after school care.
What were your drivers and motivations for setting up Koru Kids?
I started hearing similar stories from friends. Some told me how hard it was to find childcare to cover non-routine hours, like shift or freelance work. Many couldn’t get to nursery for 6pm pickup, but also couldn’t afford a nanny (at an average cost of £37,000 p.a.). One friend despaired – she’d done everything right, done well at university, built a good career, how could childcare be so cripplingly expensive that she had to need quit the job she loved? Others told me how hard it was when their child was sick and they got the call from nursery to come and pick him up. Friends with older kids said school holidays and inset days were hard to cover, and after school clubs were often full, or the children didn’t like them. It was particularly hard to find an after school nanny, since few nannies want to work just 3 hours a day. Parents of children with additional needs had all these problems and more.
It was obvious that the industry needed new approaches. I looked around to see who was working on it – and who was funding those people – and to my surprise came up mostly empty-handed. Hardly anyone was innovating in childcare, even though the industry was large and important, with British parents spending a third of their income on childcare.
I decided to do it myself, and founded Koru Kids to be my life’s work.
How do you balance Koru Kids around your family life?
In terms of balancing work and family life, my husband and I are scrupulous about both pulling our weight equally. We make sure we both do the same amount of childcare and also we take different areas of responsibility in the house which take up roughly the same amount of time. I think this is really important and it would be so difficult to run a business if I were doing a disproportionate amount of work at home as well. We also have an incredible childminder who we absolutely love and who loves my daughter, so we’ve been very lucky in that regard.
What’s been your biggest success to date?
Biggest success is the ‘after school service’, which we just started in May this year. Over the summer we received over 5000 applications from university students who wanted to become after school nannies, and after being super picky at our interviews and with background checks, we chose the top 10% of them to become Koru Kids nannies. So now we have over 500 nannies all trained and ready to go. It’s been a huge amount of work but so satisfying to have it all coming together and getting lovely feedback from parents.
Lastly what’s your top tip for anyone who’s thinking about setting up their own business?
My biggest tip for anyone wanting to start a business and also raise a family at the same time is: decrease your standards for exercise and housework. You can’t do everything!
Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your business and your successes with us, and we wish you all the best for the future.
You can find out more about Koru Kids by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
If you want to read more about Mums in Business in my series then have a nose at Love Your Birth and Write My Name.