Taking care of kids is no easy feat. That’s why we appreciate any company that creates a shortcut or finds a way to ease the daily grind of parenthood. Startup companies are everywhere, and not surprisingly, many of them are founded by moms and dads who had a genius idea and ran with it. After all, who better to solve parenting problems than parents themselves? From on-demand photography services to sleep training apps, we’ve rounded up 12 startups designed to make parenting life easier. Scroll down to learn more.
What parent hasn’t scrambled to find a last-minute photographer for birthday parties, holidays and family photo sessions? Shoott.com makes that problem obsolete. This startup provides on-demand professional photography at affordable rates. Shoott.com offers 30-minute photo sessions with an elite level photographer at select iconic outdoor locations. Sessions are complementary to book, and you only pay for the photos you love at $15 or less. The company launched in New York City, and select cities in California and Texas, and will expand nationwide in spring 2020.
“Our website makes it easy for anyone to book a professional photographer on demand for all of life's occasions, big or small—including holiday, engagement and family portraits as well as headshots or content for social media,” said Jennifer Tsay, CEO and co-founder of Shoott.com.
Play Kits by Lovevery are a subscription box service that delivers the right science-backed, non-toxic toys babies both want and need, at exactly the right stage of development, so that parents can rest assured they're giving their little ones the best possible start in life. Kits are delivered every other month and start at $36 per month. Lovevery was created to help parents give their little ones an easy alternative to screen time, as well as the ability to maintain a minimalist lifestyle, by cutting out the unnecessary excess and delivering all that baby needs for playtime.
"At Lovevery, we make the science of early childhood more approachable and help parents feel confident they're giving their children the best start,” said Jessica Rolph, Lovevery co-founder and CEO. “We work with child development experts to distill all the research into a system of essential products that are stage-based and crafted with care. You can see that care in our Play Kits and our Play Gym, and it's why parents love what we do."
The Startup Squad
The Startup Squad helps young girls across the country realize their potential and passions through a series of books. The company believes that entrepreneurship can help girls develop important life skills and achieve their dreams with confidence and conviction. They do this through a series of activity kits, books and entrepreneurship tips.
Brian Weisfeld, the founder of The Startup Squad, came up with the idea for the company after watching his eight-year-old daughter struggle to sell Girl Scout cookies and charity bake sales. Weisfeld became frustrated at the lack of empowering influences marketed to girls, so he decided to create a brand for girls that would inspire and harness their entrepreneurial spirit. “Not every girl wants to be a princess,” said Weisfeld. “Some want to run the castle. Design the moat. Or break the glass slipper and open a company with better footwear.”
Imagine owning a business where you can connect with other moms and make money at the same time? That is the goal of Kidizen, an online marketplace that provides a storefront for moms to independently create and run, earn money and find the latest styles for their kids. Parents can set up their own store to sell all the clothes and accessories their kiddos outgrow. The platform also includes an online forum where moms can share stories, empower each other and connect on shared interests.
Dori Graff and Mary Fallon started Kidizen because they believe in a new “state of mine,” which means they’re reimagining how parents shop and what they shop for, with an emphasis on community over closets. “Whether you’re a mom starting your first shop, stylist sharing a unique point-of-view or just find yourself looking to browse, you’ve arrived,” said Graff and Fallon.
If you’re a parent, sleep struggles have likely been a reality with your little ones at one point or another. That’s why Huckleberry was founded, as a new way to improve the way kids sleep. This app uses artificial intelligence and pediatric sleep experts to create individualized sleep plans for every family. Through Huckleberry, parents take a diagnostic quiz, track sleeping hours, naps and bedtimes, and the app predicts when your kiddo will be sleeping next. The program has several other features that can be purchased beyond the free app as well.
Huckleberry was co-founded by Jessica Toh who states that as a new parent, she never expected her baby would wake up every few hours for nearly two years, in spite of all the books and methods she tried. “It turned out there were many others in the same position,” said Toh. “I felt in this day and age there must be a way to solve this for all the sleep-deprived people out there who just want the best for their children.”
Aiko and Egor Animation 4 Autism
Aiko and Egor Animation 4 Autism is an animated video series and interactive app designed to help kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The activities use evidence-based principles to create activities that focus on simple animation and language for kids with ASD. The app is produced by See Beneath, whose founders are Gerin Gaskin, Casey Hoffman and Jim Turner, all of whom have a background in autism intervention and research from the University of California San Diego. These individuals spent more than 7,500 hours sitting on the floor with kids under the age of three diagnosed with ASD to develop the app.
“Our vision is a world where all children with autism will develop to their full potential,” according to the See Beneath website. “Our mission is to engage and educate children with autism (ASD) by creating and providing innovative tools that foster positive change and help children reach developmental milestones.”
Get ready to swipe right on the latest app to help moms make friends. Peanut is a Tinder-type app that matches moms so they can meet other like-minded moms. Once you create an account, Peanut shows you other women in your neighborhood with similar-aged kids and creates matches based on shared interests. Then it’s up to you to create playdates and start conversations.
Michelle Kennedy came up with the idea for Peanut after having her first baby, Finlay, and was struggling to meet other moms. She decided to create a product that would make life as a new mom a little easier. “Peanut is more than an app to connect mothers,” according to Kennedy via Peanut’s website. “It’s about recognizing a pain point that millions of women encounter and finding a solution.”
Cognitive ToyBox allows teachers to do what they do best: teach. This gamified early childhood assessment allows teachers to test a student’s learning and social-emotional readiness without spending countless hours administering tests. Here’s how it works: kids play five-minute assessment games and the results are then sent to the teacher automatically. The tool saves the teacher hours of work and provides objective data for teachers and parents.
Co-founders Tammy Kwan and Dr. Brenden Lake created Cognitive ToyBox because they wanted to develop an evidence-based technology solution to support early childhood educators, parents and children. The company currently provides preschool and kindergarten learning assessments.
Wonderschool is often described as an Airbnb for daycare services, and it also helps launch in-home preschools and daycares. The idea for the startup came from co-founders Chris Bennett and Arrel Gray who saw too many parents worried about finding child care. So they designed a company to increase access to high-quality early childhood care for families.
Wonderschool empowers experienced educators and childcare providers to run their own in-home business while providing service to other families in their communities. The programs are diverse and designed to educate in the warmth of an in-home child care program.
All Our Kin
All Our Kin is a non-profit organization that wants to improve home-based care by ensuring childcare providers are highly educated and trained. The startup trains and supports more than 400 parents and educators each year, and those childcare providers serve more than 2,400 kids. That impact of helping adults work and kids learn is what drives All Our Kin to provide the services it does. The organization provides training through various programs and tools like licensing, Early Head Start, statewide training and technical assistance and a provider showcase program.
Janna Wagner and Jessica Sager co-founded All Our Kin so that “childcare professionals succeed as business owners; working parents find stable, high-quality care for their children; and children gain an educational foundation that lays the groundwork for achievement in school and beyond.”
Sometimes one of the toughest parts about being a working parent is finding childcare for the kiddos. That’s where Vivvi comes in to make life easier. Think of Vivvi as the Four Seasons of Childcare, but for medium-sized employers. This startup provides employer-sponsored childcare for companies of all sizes. The care is provided either on-site or near the company and is geared toward kids ages newborn to five-years-old.
Vivvi’s co-founders Ben Newton and Charles Bonello designed Vivvi to make it possible for companies of all sizes to implement a child care program and change their employees' lives.
Every parent has been through it. You confirm plans and then you can’t find a babysitter. That’s where Nanno comes. This app allows parents to secure a sitter within minutes. There is no minimum hour requirement and you can book as few as two hours in advance. Nanno runs a full criminal background check on all its sitters and requires a skills set for every person. They also offer on-demand matching and booking, quality control based on reviews, and free cancellation protection.
Liz Oertle, CEO and Co-founder of Nanno, is passionate about leveraging emerging technologies to solve real-world problems of everyday people, especially parents and families. A former startup lawyer turned startup founder, Oertle met Desi McAdam, a software engineer and director of a software consultancy. Together, they decided to build a product that would solve a real-world problem that desperately needed to be solved. That’s when the idea of Nanno took form.
— Leah R. Singer