This past weekend I was invited to an intimate brunch to speak with the founders of CareLuLu. All opinions are mine.
Last month I received an invitation in my email from CareLuLu. I hadn’t heard of them, and set out to good ol’ Google to learn more. I was intrigued by what I first saw, and RSVP’d yes. This past weekend I ventured down to the Roof on Wilshire in Los Angeles to meet the husband & wife team – Jen & Patrick – and learn more about their business.
Husband and wife teams are always intriguing. Have you worked with your spouse before? I have. You might remember Bubbalooch (You can read here about what I learned from starting & ending it) When you create a business with a friend or colleague, you have breaks apart from each other. Sometimes you wonder if the other person or people are “all in” as you are. But when it’s a spouse, it’s a different dynamic. Working with Jon taught me a lot and was both exciting and scary.
Jen and Patrick shared how CareLuLu was started. With many women owned businesses – it starts with an answer to a problem. Jen & Patrick’s problem? The uphill battle they had with finding a preschool for their daughter in the DC area when Jen headed back into the workforce. I know that story oh so well. Sidetrack moment!
When I found out I was pregnant with Luke – 2 weeks after Aubrey’s first birthday, I was freaking out. Her entire 1st year of life offered the grandmas to care for her while I was at the office. I knew that when baby 2 was to arrive – it would be too much for the grandmas to care for 2 kids at once. Aubrey was a brilliant little learner and I knew she would thrive in a preschool setting. I went online, and started searching and realized it was pretty difficult to find exactly what I needed.
We had a few parameters – she would only be 2. She would not be potty trained. I needed the option of all day care. I needed it to be close to where we my work & the grandmas lived. At this time, we lived about 20 minutes from where I worked. The grandmas were each about a 5 minute drive from my office. I liked the idea of dropping off both kids in one swoop without going too far out of the way. I wanted a faith based program.
Some places had great websites, some no websites, some archaic websites with outdated info. Frustrating is an understatement. Eventually I discovered Aubrey’s current school (less than 1 mile from my work) and it had a great program, started at 2 years old, didn’t need to be potty trained, and was faith based.
Back to Jen & Patrick’s story. So in the DC area it was quite a challenge and Jen’s search results were similar to mine. She discussed the problem with her husband and together they realized there had to be an easier way. Eventually there was – CareLuLu.
Jen & Patrick jumped in and had a third partner and worked on creating the foundation for the web-based company. Since started 1 1/2 years ago – they’ve lived in 4 different cities all over the US, and have participated in two rounds of an Accelerator program for start-ups. Last fall CareLuLu secured funding to continue the growth & development to help serve families across the US.
One of my first questions to Jen was how do you make money? It’s free to list your preschool program (please note, you must be licensed) and it’s free to search for programs as a parent. There are some pilot programs they’re testing out with the locations in DC to generate some income.
My next question was what information do providers see? I’m a true geek. I have created websites for businesses and I track to see where traffic is coming from for my own websites. I love Google Analytics. Jen first let me know I was the first parent to ask that. Of course educators ask all the time. Point for me! But she did confirm that each educator has a dashboard to see visits to their listings, as well as the contact information & notes that parents can send through the website (should there be any technical difficulties with the preschool program receiving the notes via their email server).
Some providers can also post immediate openings, offer promotional discounts for those that find them through CareLuLu directly, and can update on new things going on within the program. It’s truly revolutionary.
While any school can post their information to be found, the current markets CareLuLu is focused on is Washington DC and Los Angeles. That means for all my local mamas – there will be more featured listings that have had walk-through visits, photos, and objective reviews performed by CareLuLu. They want to make sure all information provided is non-biased. Such an important thing for parents to know!
Last tidibit I’ll leave you with is the amount of parameters you can search. You can narrow by the age levels, languages spoken, education level of teachers, facilities available, security options, list goes on and on. So encourage your preschool to sign up for a profile. Leave a review to help other families, and share CareLuLu with friends struggling to find the perfect environment to send their children to.
Thank you Jen & Patrick for a wonderful brunch and answering all our questions!