A Start-Up Story: CareLuLu Helps You Find Child Care

As a daycare provider, I understand how difficult it is to find quality child care. I get e-mails and calls from parents almost every day inquiring about availability. The process to find care is time-consuming, stressful and often frustrating, especially since so many  providers do not have websites. One couple, Evgeniya (Jen) Usmanova and Patrick Matos decided to do something about this problem. Together they launched a new business called CareLuLu. It is a free resource for families looking for child care. I was immediately intrigued by the business concept. Then I was blown away by the website itself. This is exactly what parents need. Please read my latest Start-Up Story interview with Jen. She and her husband have done exactly what good entrepreneurs need to do, which is discover a need and develop a solution!

carelulu

Question: What is your business and how long have you been in business?
CareLuLu is a free website that helps parents find child care or preschool that fits their family’s specific needs. It’s not just another listing of daycares in the area. With CareLuLu, parents avoid the hassle of searching through dozens of websites and find all the information they want in one place. We offer a criteria-based search as well as detailed daycare profiles with photos, tuition rates, and verified parent reviews. CareLuLu has lots of filters to personalize the search for every single family (part time options, languages, amenities, etc.). Once you find schools you like, you can save them to your favorites, schedule a tour, or request more info with just a click of a button. The team started working on CareLuLu in December 2012 and our website was made public at the end of July 2013.

Question: What made you decide to start your own business? What was your inspiration?
The idea for CareLuLu came after my husband Patrick and I struggled to find a child care center for our two girls, that fit our family’s needs in terms of budget and services offered. We expected that there would be a website to help us find information about daycares in our area but all we found were directories. It took a lot of time to do online and offline research to find the right place for us. After learning that other parents were facing the same issues, we decided to create an online resource to help other parents!

Question: What were you doing before starting this venture? How long did you have the idea to start your own business before actually taking the leap?
The notion for CareLuLu came about in the summer of 2011, but the fully developed concept and actual work started in December 2012. I was working at the American Councils for International Education and my husband was an environmental engineer for a consulting firm. His firm was in the middle of an acquisition and the project I was working on was coming to an end. Patrick and I took the leap immediately after realizing that there will never be a better time to start a business. After finding a fantastic third co-founder Gabriel, a suitable company name and after buying web domains, we did lots of market research and customer development. After seven months of sleepless nights, my husband Patrick and I decided to quit our “corporate” jobs to go all-in and focus our energy on our third baby, CareLuLu.

Question: What was your biggest hurdle/struggle to overcome when first starting?
There were many hurdles, but I would say that the first and perhaps most critical to the success of the company is finding the right founding team. For us at CareLuLu, we’re extremely lucky to have a fantastic technical co-founder! Gabriel is a web developer who was part of the team that launched Groupon in Brazil. We also had very early on advisers that helped us focus our vision and develop our initial product. And of course, there’s Patrick and I. All of us had complementary skills and terrific team chemistry!

Question: What is your best advice to someone thinking of starting a business?
Before you start your business, regardless of the kind of business you’re starting, be sure to have a terrific team in place or some sort of support system. I cannot stress enough how critical it is to have like-minded individuals building something together. You have to be able to trust and rely on the other person(s) to give their all, working late nights and weekends. Your visions and level of commitment must be aligned. This will also help you get energized and ready to face another day when hard times come your way (and trust me, they will!)

Question: What does the future for your business look like? How do you measure success?
We are starting in the Washington DC area but we are planning to expand nationwide and help parents across the country. We aim to become the number one resource for parents looking for child care and preschool. Our success will be measured by the number of child care providers working with us, by the number of visitors we get, and most importantly, by the number of families we match with the right child care provider!

Question: How Can People Connect with You? 
www.CareLuLu.com

CareLuLu on Facebook

CareLuLu on Twitter

CareLuLu on Pinterest

CareLuLu on LinkedIn

 

About 

Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.

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  1. It is indeed a great initiative and an excellent business idea. Every business needs hard work and dedication which I think you have really put into yours. Finding day care is really a complex job. You can get enough number of clients as child day care is the need of the day.