Koru Kids, local nanny share
Rachel Carrell has launched Koru Kids in March 2016, a nanny share service dedicated to families in London. Koru Kids helps to match busy parents who want to share their childcare based on numerous criteria (families who already have a nanny and the ones looking for one, location, time, etc…) and assists them with the paperwork. Obviously nanny sharing is financially interesting for both the families and the nanny, but above all it enables children to develop a special bond together, grow their social skills and have fun together. Discover Rachel’s business story, as well as her numerous digital tips to make tech parents’ life easier.
Discovering Koru Kids
LadyPlans: what is Koru Kids? Why did you decide to launch a nanny share service?
Rachel Carrell: Koru Kids helps families that want to nanny share find another family locally. Nanny share means that children from two families are looked after at the same time, with the nanny working between the houses. We set up the introduction, and then help families with the administrative details. The network has grown quickly and now has thousands of families in it.
The idea had its roots when I was running a large ecommerce company, and had a baby. All my friends had babies too, and we spent a lot of time talking about childcare. There are so many problems — it’s too expensive, quality is too patchy, the hours are often very inconvenient, and sickness and holiday can be a major pain. I decided to dedicate my time to solving these problems. We see ourselves as building the world’s best childcare service.
LadyPlans: what does Koru Kids mean?
Rachel Carrell: a ‘koru’ is a shape. It’s a Maori word, referring to the way the tip of a fern unfurls as it grows. It also means ‘loop’, since the shape is a bit like a loop. I loved the idea of a loop of care around our children and our families. My New Zealand heritage is really important to me so I liked using a Maori word in our name.
LadyPlans: what are the key benefits for each of the 3 parties using Koru Kids (the nanny, family already employing the nanny and the joining family)?
Rachel Carrell: the families save about a third each on the cost of the nanny, which can represent thousands of pounds per year. The nanny gets a big payrise, typically about 25% in gross terms. It’s funny though, our families that are sharing rarely mention the financial benefits after the share is set up. Instead when we ask them how it’s going, they talk about how much the children love each other, how much they laugh together, how their faces light up in the morning when they see each other, how each family helps each other out. That’s the real benefit in the end – the bond between the kids is so beautiful. It’s almost like having a sibling.
LadyPlans: how do you match families?
Rachel Carrell: families sign up on our website, and we introduce them to another local family who matches their situation. Behind the scenes, our software takes into account up to 15 parameters including location, number of children, times and dates, and childcare preferences, recommending the best match.
LadyPlans: how is Koru Kids different from other nanny share services in the UK?
Rachel Carrell: we believe that life is already complicated enough for parents, and that sorting out your childcare shouldn’t have to be a full time job. We do tons of work behind the scenes for parents so that they aren’t wasting any time talking to families that don’t match with them, and we do everything we possibly can in terms of paperwork so that parents don’t have to spend their spare time doing it. We’re dedicated to making life easier for parents, and that principle goes through everything we do – the design of the website is really simple, our forms are short, we communicate simply, and we try to only send messages that are really relevant and helpful.
LadyPlans: what are your long-term goals for Koru Kids? What are your key projects for Koru Kids in 2017?
Rachel Carrell: we’re focusing now on further increasing our ‘density’ in London, and on improving our algorithms, so that we can make more and better matches. We’re already matching people whose kids are at the same nursery and who share the same full postcode, which is brilliant – we’d like to do that even more.
Sharing your experience in digital
LadyPlans: what is your role at Koru Kids? What were your professional experiences in digital prior to Koru Kids?
Rachel Carrell: at Koru Kids, I’m founder and CEO. Prior to Koru Kids, I was the Managing Director of DrThom, the world’s largest online doctor service. Before that, I was at McKinsey for 6 years.
LadyPlans: what are the key digital trends in childcare in the UK?
Rachel Carrell: there are a lot of interesting startups in the babysitting space, such as Bubble (‘babysitting app where you can find a babysitter your friends already know’), Poppins (‘instant, location-based babysitter’ app), Kidsitter (”Uber’ of babysitters in London’ website), Sitster (app that ‘makes it quick and easy to arrange babysitting amongst a group of your trusted friends), and HelloMums (reliable and affordable childcare in south west London’ website), all challenging the big incumbent Sitters which has been around for 40-odd years. There are also a couple of great social media/content startups connecting new Mums socially, Mush (‘new, free way for mums to meet local mums‘ app) and Peanut (app that ‘shows you likeminded mamas near you and makes it easy to meet’). In hardware, I’ve been impressed with the Gator watch, which is a very simple watch-phone with only the functions a parent would want their kid to have, such as one-tap emergency dialling and GPS tracking.
LadyPlans: how do you leverage digital to increase Koru Kids visibility?
Rachel Carrell: we are fans of investing in quality content. We try to create content which is truly helpful for our parents. It’s working well for us so far.
Sharing your personal digital tips
LadyPlans: what are your 3 favourite websites for childcare/parents news?
Rachel Carrell: TantrumXYZ is really high quality and always a good read. I also love instagrammer MotherPukka, as she is hilarious. We’re supporting her #flexappeal campaign. Slightly off the beaten track, Culture Whisper covers family activities as well as more grownup stuff, in a beautiful curated email newsletter each month. I am constantly forwarding it to friends.
LadyPlans: what are the top 3 websites to find a nanny in London or the UK?
Rachel Carrell: lots of people still use Gumtree or Childcare.co.uk to find a nanny, and increasingly people are using Facebook. Personally I would use www.nannyjob.co.uk. It’s the website that a lot of agencies use, and very good nannies are on there.
LadyPlans: which websites or apps would you recommend to facilitate interactions between the families and their nanny?
Rachel Carrell: I love Coo, which helps parents of older kids schedule their busy diaries. It’s great for nannies to use with families, but parents can also use it as a standalone tool even if they don’t have a nanny. There’s also some great software being developed for nurseries to use internally and also communicate with parents, such as Kinderly.
LadyPlans: which websites or apps would you recommend to help parents and nannies find news activities for the kids?