When Rachel Carrell paused her flourishing career in health tech to welcome the birth of her first child, the path back to the workforce seemed simple—she would deliver her daughter, experience the unique trials and joys of motherhood, find a great childcare option, and return to work as before.
The reality was a rude awakening. Childcare options were difficult to book, inflexible, and prohibitively expensive. Carrell realized that parents were tasked with what was essentially project management just to find the right care option for their child—all at a time she describes as "the most exhausted and overworked that they're ever going to be in their whole lives." Friends in similar situations experienced the same lack of options, leaving them unable to go back to work, or forced to compromise their own burgeoning careers to take care of their kids.
“The whole model was really broken,” she says. “I thought about childcare in the same way I thought about healthcare, where there are VCs that have poured tons of money into the industry and there are lots of specialists who understand these things deeply. I was amazed that I couldn't really find anything that I thought was really fundamentally solving the hard problems of childcare.”
I was amazed that I couldn't really find anything that I thought was really fundamentally solving the hard problems of childcare.
With that mission in mind, Carrell left healthcare to found Koru Kids in 2016. The now-mother of two began developing a nuanced, end-to-end, high-quality childcare solution for working parents using technology—recruiting, vetting, and training nannies, matching those nannies with families, handling payroll, organizing nanny shares, and more, all in a single place.
Koru Kids functions as “the glue that holds all of those things together,” but the company lacked a tool flexible enough to organize the necessary nuts and bolts for such a diverse series of tasks. Desperate for a solution, Carrell solicited opinions from an email group for founders. A few suggestions later, Carrell and her head of operations, An Nguyen, were experimenting with Airtable. “I forwarded it straight to An," says Carrell. "He told me that he got that email and he stayed up until about 1:00 a.m. that night because he was so excited playing with Airtable. That is no lie!”
Koru Kids used Airtable to manage their entire recruitment and vetting processes for nannies. They collect applications using a form, which takes information entered by applicants and pre-populates existing fields within an Airtable base. Screening potential candidates is especially important, and Koru Kids take no chances operating in a business sector predicated on trust and safety. Every detail is accounted for in Airtable, with nothing overlooked—only less than 10 percent of nannies make it through the stringent, constantly-evolving procedure, ensuring only the cream of the crop are matched with families.
Each team involved in the process has a separate base to oversee their domain, of which there are many—vetting candidates includes interviews, a training bootcamp, reference calls, document checks, and more, with different teams responsible for different sections. That information can then be sliced-and-diced by each team to best suit their individual needs. Teams tailor information to their liking through views. By eliminating extraneous information and updating in real time, team members always have the most accurate, relevant details available—a must to ensure an accurate vetting process.
When it comes time for candidate outreach, Koru Kids leverage their rich databases and powerful Airtable blocks to make the process more efficient. The send SMS block, an add-on that allows them to send text messages directly from their base, is especially valuable to their business.
“We tried emailing our applicants and found that they were way less responsive,” Carrell says. Now Koru Kids uses the send SMS block to contact, schedule, and send reminders to nanny candidates as well as families. “We’ll SMS a family contact and say, ‘Hey Name—today we sent you three nannies—please review!’” says Carrell. As a result, the company is enjoying significantly higher response and engagement rates while making better matches with the most-qualified applicants available.
With a database containing more than a thousand nannies, as well as thousands of families, Koru Kids is well on their way to helping families manage the complexity of childcare—and their work is far from over. They have future plans to use tech at scale to offer educational opportunities—as Carrell puts it, they're exploring ways to “educate our nannies, to help with child development, education, and homework, so it's not just about getting your nanny—it's about continuing to support and up-skill your nanny, when you have them in place.”
As they grow even more, Carrell and the Koru Kids team are looking forward to tackling new challenges using Airtable. “No one has ever said, ‘Oh, actually childcare works really well in my country. You don't need to do anything in my country.’ We’ll probably use Airtable for a long time, maybe forever.”