Our startup: Babbu
Hi Charlie! What does Babbu do?
Babbu is the UK’s first online nursery, designed to support, reassure and empower parents and their children in the first critical few years.
We tell parents that “We’ve got your back, from conception to reception”, and provide a huge amount of resources related to playing, learning and development, which empowers parents and their children to reach their full potential.
We are driven by a simple but ambitious vision, namely a world in which all children reach their full potential.
We want to democratise access to early years education so that all children are given the best possible start in life. Our core values are to make Early Years Education easy, accessible, and fun.
What made you think there was money in this?
Having worked in Early Years education and being a mother to one beautiful 5-year-old, I know first hand how hard it is to be a parent. There is no handbook, no guide to learning, weaning, language, sleep that is handed out as you leave the hospital, and so we created Babbu to provide just that.
All parents want the best for their children, yet sadly most are priced-out of Early Years' education. Millions of children are missing out, yet the science tells us that a child’s experiences from conception through their first five years will go on to shape their next 50.
And this isn't just a UK problem. Globally there are 175 million children not in pre-school education and yet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals state that by 2030 “all children should have access to high-quality early years education”.
As a business, we therefore launched to help build a better future for everyone, and make being a parent a little less stressful in the interim – we want to be known as the ‘go to guide’ for all new parents.
What's your biggest strength?
Our team. I am incredibly proud of everyone working on Babbu. We have an extremely diverse and passionate team, who care deeply for our mission. Together, they have created our own curriculum that celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability and truly makes Early Years education accessible and fun.
Everything else stems from this. Our accreditation, our accolades, our awards. We are authentic and empathetic in our content and in the way we conduct our business.
Where is the business today?
After nearly two years in R&D we have just launched in BETA and are still testing customer feedback and making improvements for the product.
We are building out our content from 0 - 36 months and continue to embrace new teaching approaches including Montessori, Forest School and Mindfulness.
We have recently been named The best parent apps you need to download and have been shortlisted for several awards including Tech for Impact Start-Up of the Year and Early Stage Innovation Award.
We have some awesome brand partnerships launching in the coming months, as well as a fully-funded research project conducted by a Professor of Economics at UCL. It’s a hugely exciting time for Babbu.
What is the secret to making the business work?
For me, the secrets are (i) have a purpose that truly speaks to you as a founder and (ii) building a highly-skilled, highly-engaged team that cares and aligns with that purpose. For example, in addition to the team working on the platform day-to-day, we are supported by a strong Advisory Board including Javed Khan OBE - Former Chief Executive of Barnardos
Finally, listen to your customers. We have spent over two years speaking to parents, including surveying over 1,000! The feedback we are currently receiving is fundamental to how we shape the product and make it successful. Being able to listen, react and pivot is therefore very important.
How do you market the company?
Our current Go to Market strategy is primarily a B2B proposition, helping employers to enhance their Employee Value Proposition in a meaningful and authentic way. We are currently in discussion with a number of employers from start-ups to global businesses, across sectors.
The background to this approach is that research has found that 72% of the UK workforce has a caring responsibility for a child, yet most feel unsupported by their employer. We are making it easy for companies to show they genuinely care about their team at this life-changing point – plus investing in their future workforce by giving them access to high-quality Early Years education, at home, for a fraction of the price.
Furthermore, to be true to our mission, our business model is subscription based, with ‘buy-one,give-one’ whereby we distribute the product free of charge to some of the UK’s most disadvantaged families via charitable partnerships.
What funding do you have? Is it enough?
We have raised pre-seed investment from a number of high profile individuals, grants and businesses. In addition, we have been supported via the Barclays Black-Founder Accelerator and London & Partners Impact Accelerator. We have sufficient funding to operate a 'lean' methodology and hit our revenue targets in 2023.
Tell us about the business model?
Our business model is subscription based with ‘buy-one, give-one’ whereby we distribute the product free of charge to some of the UK’s most disadvantaged families. As Babbu is a tech business, it can scale very quickly with reasonably low fixed overheads. Plus the nature of our customer being a parent/carer of a child under five years allows us to focus our sales and marketing efforts - in turn reducing our Customer Acquisition Costs.
What were you doing before?
Prior to Babbu, I owned and managed Cuckooz Nest – a totally flexible, Pay-As-You-Go nursery with onsite workspace, designed to make childcare more affordable for freelance/self-employed parents whilst also allowing them to be present during those important first 1,001 days of their child’s life.
Since becoming a mother, I have become a fierce advocate for change within the Early Years sector and regularly contribute to the media and speak on the topic of affordability, working parents, child development and how technology can help close the attainment gap. It’s my passion.
What is the future vision?
We are driven by a simple but ambitious vision at Babbu: we want to democratise access to Early Years education so that no child is left behind.