Q&A: Empowering parents by providing wider childcare choices

This week we chat with Benjamin Balk, founder of marketplace platform KindiCare. Specifically developed for the early childhood education and care market, KindiCare has all the early childhood education and childcare centres in Australia listed on its app, helping parents and guardians search for childcare centres across the country based on their specific needs.

ISB: How did the concept of KindiCare come about?

BB: The concept for KindiCare came about from our own family’s own personal journey finding early childhood education and care services for our two daughters. My wife Julini was leading the search and found it stressful, time-consuming and more complex than it needed to be. She told me there should be a better way and I still remember her saying to me, “there should be an App for that!”

ISB: What has been the most challenging aspect of this venture for you and how did you address it?

BB: The most challenging aspect of launching KindiCare was the sheer effort it requires to take a business from ideation through market launch and then into a growth phase. Add to this the impacts of COVID along with a major emergency spine surgery not long after launching KindiCare – it truly has been the biggest challenge of my life. I learned I had to be very adaptable to the market environment, prepared to pivot and change my thinking if something didn’t work or an assumption changed. It has been sheer will and determination, together with support from my family, friends, investors and partners that has kept me on course to achieve what we have as a business in a very short space of time. The only way to address the challenges of building a start-up is flexibility, resilience and quite simply, a lot of hard work!

ISB: How do you ensure that the platform is able to provide the specific childcare needs of each family?

BB: From day one, we wanted to bring the sophisticated experience people are used to in other markets such as property, careers and travel to the early education market. That meant an “App-first” approach so that we could deliver a unique and immersive experience where families can access all the information on early learning services they need all in one place. Unique features such as the KindiCare Rating and Search with Subsidy let families find early learning services that match their values, needs and budget in a lot less time than the traditional approach.

ISB: At the same time, how is the platform helping childcare providers?

BB: Childcare providers vary from large corporate and not for profit groups with hundreds of centres right down to small single centre owner/operators who service their local communities. KindiCare was made to be accessible to all providers, regardless of size, delivering a low-cost solution to get visibility with families looking for early learning services whilst delivering high quality, highly engaged enrolment opportunities from families

ISB: How do you see KindiCare evolving in the next two years?

BB: It takes both sides of a market to improve the experience. Over the next two years we will continue to expand the platform to enhance the early learning journey and experience for parents looking for childcare, as well as delivering innovative solutions for childcare providers. The aim for these solutions is to help them manage their presence online, understand their market and competition, connect them with families looking for services and save them time so they can focus their attention on the children in their care.

ISB: What advice can you give to those who have a unique vision they wish to bring to life as a business opportunity?

BB: Just start! However, you need to commit yourself to the journey! If you can see a clear market problem or market need that is not being adequately solved, start working on the idea and its development. Whilst it is really important to test your idea with market participants and do your research to ensure the market opportunity is real, the most important piece of advice I would give anyone wanting to bring their vision to life, by far, is to be prepared for it to be all-consuming – your time, your finances, and your every waking moment. Bringing a start-up to life isn’t a 9-5 job. There will be real sacrifices and impacts on your time, your family and relationships and it is not something you can ever expect to be successful at doing if you treat it as a side gig.