Vested Capital
Vested Capital

Episode 21 · 2 weeks ago

(EP21): Sara Mauskopf, Co-Founder & CEO of Winnie.com, Childcare Provider Marketplace, Raises $15.5 Million In Funding

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sara Mauskopf is the co-founder and CEO of Winnie.com, a marketplace platform that connects parents looking for childcare and preschool providers with over 250,000 centres around the USA.

To date, Sara and her team have raised $15.5 Million in venture funding over three rounds, with the most recent $9 million series being led by Rethink Impact

In this interview we first dive back into Sara's history as a math major, then moving over to computer science, which led her to a job at Google after graduation. She later left Google for Twitter, then left again to join Postmates, where she met her co-founder, Anne Halsall.

Sara and Anne were a little unique as working parents inside Postmates, and realized how difficult it was to juggle raising children and maintaining full time jobs. One of the challenges was childcare, an industry that was still driven mostly by a word-of-mouth for finding good options.

Sara breaks down all the steps from making the first version of their platform, how they built the supply side up, attracted parents to the site, raised funding and currently make money.

There's a lot to learn from Sara and she shares a lot of wisdom, so don't miss this one.

Enjoy the podcast.

Yaro

Podcast: https://www.yaro.blog/pod/
Blog: https://www.yaro.blog/ 

Hi there this is Yaro and welcome toinvested capital Episode Number Twenty one featuring my guest Sarah MouseKough, the founder of Winnicott capital, is a podcast about how people makemoney and put their capital to work. I interview start up founders AngelInvestors, venture capitalists, Crypto and Stock Traders, real estateinvestors and leaders in technology. My guest today, Sarah, the CO founder ofWinnica, is a day care and preschool platform. So she built this company toneck parents who are looking for day care with the daycare providers allaround the United States at the moment, and I was a little surprised to hearthat this is a market place that isn't really well served in terms oftechnical solutions so when he is blazing a path in this space, which iswhy it's also doing so well, it is a marketplace. So Sarah and your teamhave had to initially provide supply, which means getting all the necessaryinformation about day care and preschool providers around the countryand then making sure that parents know this platform exists, so they're, theobviously the users and potentially the buyers, are though it remains free forparents, they're, monetizing on the day care and preschool provider side. SarahTalks about the current monetization strategy. She talks about how they wereable to build the first version and find information basically create thefirst side of the platform to supply side and then how people are currentlydiscovering it obviously search is a big deal, but it's becoming a brand.It's you know, word of mouth, you go to Winnie to find what you need about day,care and preschool. It's really an amazing space to be in I'm a littlesurprised. How excited I got listening to her, how she really is entering amarket. That is huge. I think, about how many parents have children and thenthis decision they have to make about where to place their kids, possibly thefirst time ever with strangers, it's their education. It's a big decision,and it involves big money to this- is not a small amount of money. They spendSarah note it's about fourteen thousand dollars a year kind of for an entrylevel, big care preschool situation. It can be as much as triple that for themore expensive one. So it's a lot of money to be thinking about spending andWinnie, is well placed to help make that decision easier for parents, soreally big mission and a really great interview. I love talking to Sarahbecause she talked about what it was like. First of all, coming up with theidea and what do they focus on building and how they kind of zero den on thisspace that they're operating and now what it was like raising funding howthey did that, what they used the money for both in the initial seed round offive hundred thousand roughly and the more recent round of nine milliondollars? What it's been like raising that money? It's actually was a littlebit more challenging than I expected it to be. I thought this was a no brainer,because it's such a big market, but maybe I shouldn't be surprised with alot of men being the one deciding about where to ing, invest, money and they're,not the ones who have had the experience, possibly with placing kidsin day care and solving that problem. They didn't really understand the need.They see it as a big idea. So in fact, the most recent raise of nine milliondollars was back by all female led an investment capital, firm, calledrethink impact so, and that was their series a that was just done recently,as I record this interview with Sarah, so overall really fun into view reallygreat story. If you want to hear about building a two sided market place,female founder venture capital back all the cool things about startups are inthis story and I'll know your love hearing from Sarah and thank you, Sarahfor really being transparent and breaking Talon a lot of the behind thescenes. Things that you've done with your co, founder and okay. Before I hitthe play button, as always the sponsor for today's episode is my company. Inbox DONEC, we provide a virtual executive assistant for CEOS founders,leaders, professionals, anyone who's in a kind of a busy role, and you needsomeone to step in and take over, managing your email replying to yourmessages, dealing with your calendar...

...dealing with all those every day, taskthat might come up as a result of your emails to whether it's doing researchon guests or people you're going to be meeting with whether it's just researchfor anything kind of decision making, you're doing within your company oryour role. Obviously it's the back and forwards with scheduling it's dealingwith all those every day. Emails that you probably should not be dealing withlike newsletters software updates spam questions that are not that important,but still need to be answered, but not by you. All of that we take over. Weassign you to dedicated people who have been specially trained with superiorcommunication. More often than not US based. We do have some azis someEuropeans, so we can cover different time zones, but we always focus onsuperior communication and we only hire about one percent of every thousandpeople who apply, and I'm not joking when I say that, because we do getsomewhere between ten and forty applicants per day, so we're getting alot of people applying, but only one percent of them roughlyy make itthrough a ten step, hiring vetting and testing and training process. We putthem through. That's what we bring to the table, we're the hiring and testingdepartment. So you don't have to do that. You don't have to source amazingpeople and we've always got your back. So if you need more dedicated virtualexecutive assistance, we can supply more as you grow, as you need more helpjust had to inbox oncome. If you want freedom, if you want to get some morehours in your day, because you're no longer doing those low level activitieslike email, like scheduling like admin task, that's in box done: com. Okay,that's IT for me! Now we're going to begin today's interview with Sarah theCO founder of Winnie Com. Sarah, thank you so much for joining me today.Thanks for having me, this is super exciting. So I'm looking forward tohearing about your company Winnica I'm going to let you describe what that isand how things are going. Maybe we can start with that? What exactly is Winnie-and you know- where are you at in terms of growing the start up yeah so winnieis a market place for child far and education? We really got our start withday care and pre school. We have over two hundred and fifty thousand licenseday cares and preschools on our platform. Parents come to winny and forfree they can search and filter and find the day cares and preschools thatmeet their needs, so see things like crisis and parent reviews and schedules,and all this stuff that was just really hard to find on the Internet. Beforeand like you said, you can find us at Winnica and we also have apps foriphone and Android Nice. So I know you've raised some capital actuallyreally liked. Some of the titles, it's the press, you guys had when you raisedyour most recent round like this from business. Insider two pregnant cofounders, raise nine million for startup patackes, a universal problemfor millennia parents. So obviously you guys are venture back. I think that's!Your second round of funding is that right. Well depends how you can it wewer like may quote preceed round, then our seed round, and then our series, aokay, yea, there's so many around nowadays, it's so many yeah okay. Nowthe other thing obviously like to dive into your past and how, when he wasbuilt, but even before that I was looking at your linton actually now waslike. You've got a bit of WHO's, who o guy see youtube, Google and twitter. Inyour background there on linked in so you kind of really experienced some ofthe biggest companies I'd love to like go back in time, maybe even start evenbefore that. Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in thesuburbs of Philadelphia, so I am a philly girl at heart, which is whatgives me my grit and I went to college at Mit andexperienced the cold weather of the Boston area, and so, when I heard aboutthis hole- and I majored in computer science, which was the cool thing to doat Mit, I was just trying to be cool and fit in right, and so, afterexperiencing four years of freezing...

...cold weather, I heard that there weretech jobs in California, and I didn't realize San Francisco was not like warmCalifornia. I thought it was like a sunny San Francisco, so google came to my campus and washiring- and I was like this sounds great like I can move to. Californiacan be in this warm weather and Google was like such a cool company to workfor at the time. I'm sure still is, but this was you know back in two thousandand seven so I took it. I went out to SanFrancisco Yeah, who says no to Google right. So I'm curious. So, even beforeyou started in college, were you a technical sort of person? WIL YOU W L?I was interested in maybe programming language and things like that. I wasalways into math, but I had no idea what programming really was like. Itwasn't taught at my school at no exposure to it. So when I went tocollege, I thought I was going to be a math major and I actually started outas a math major and took a bunch of math classes, but at MIT was socollaborative. Everyone was like working on these like problems setstogether, and I was like alone doing all my math problems. There's no. Noneof my friends were math majors and I was like I want to. I don't havefriends and computer science it turned out. I could use a lot of my mathcredits. It's obviously there's a lot of kind of theoretical computer sciencefezzes that are really just math classes, and so that's kind of how Igot into it. But I'm super glad. I did because I think, opened up a lot ofopportunity that would not have have been the same as a math, major yeah. Nodoubt it's funny math, like I think, of an academic career or a teaching career,but then sen you just switch to computer science is suddenly likeanything and everything kind of opens up in terms of jobs. When you startedwith Google, do you get placed in a department, because obviously Google ismassive even to two thousand and seven that was fairly early, but they, I musthave at least had I don't know, obviously, search and ad words and mapsand all these departments opening up did you get to choose one or do theyplace you somewhere? So I join this like interesting rotation program thatI don't think they actually have anymore. It was not the famous likeAssociate Product Manager Program. It was this group called partner solutionsand basically it was like kind of the technical arm of the partnerships team.So, as Google did a large partnership with an outside company, there would belots of technical integration, work and product to build, and that was wherekind of this group played, and so it was cool in that I got to kind of seeboth the business side of things and also build products, and that's where Ikind of realized, especially as I rotated onto youtube that I really likethe product building part of it that was really fun and exciting and workingwith like really smart engineers was awesome, and I was like I want to trythis product manager thing and started. You know kind of looking at productmanager, jobs both inside Google and at other companies. I was excited aboutand on one company I was super excited about was twitter because I was biguser twitter at the time and that's how I wound up there twekay before we talkabout twitter. I am curious to when it comes to when you say product, likeobviously as a start of founder, that I understand you, you have your ownproduct, you're, probably the one building, the very first version of it,and obviously I want to share that story with Winnie, but when you jumpinto a place like Google you're, not suddenly responsible for an entireproduct yourself right, you join a team who might be working on the entireinterface for Youtube. For example, how does it work when you transition fromsay mit graduate? Then you slot into Google or Youtube? You know same placereally, and you are working on product. Do you like get told here, you'reresponsible for this little button on the Youtube player like how do you makethat transition yeah? You know it's been interesting like throughout mycareer, I've joined smaller and smaller...

...companies, ultimately my own, which isthe smallest, and we not for long, though right right. One day, we will bebigger than good ball. As you go to small and small companies, your scopeobviously increases and you don't just get to control the color of a button,but the entire product area feature and, however, there's trade offs and thatyou get a lot less help and you have to do a lot more yourself and don't havethose amazing other team members to learn from. So I actually think youknow starting my career at a company where there were really talented peopleto learn from and network with you. So people I still keep in touch with todaywas super beneficial and I not to deter anyone from joining a start up rightout of college, but I think I've learned a lot from being at a biggercompany and kind of seeing the right way. The quote right way to do thingsthe big way it was. That scary, like I, can only imagine, coming out of collegeand then suddenly you're in perhaps the most famous computer company in theworld. Just even thinking like am I going to be able to create what theyneed me to create. That would be my my fear. I guess yeah. I think it's a itwas a really hard mindset shift for me to go from in school, you're toldexactly what to do and how to get a good grade. You take these tests andyou hand in these assignments, and then you get your a at the end of the dayand when you're in a workplace, whether it's a big company or a very smallcompany, you have to figure out what it is that you really should be working on.No one really tells you necessarily what to do, how to spend every minuteof your time or even if you kind of have a general sense, they don'tnecessarily tell you how to get an et doing it, so that was kind of a bigshift, and I had to make that ship again, even starting my own company,where you get even less guidance and management, more taut, a me yea so tellme with twitter, obviously googles great twitters great.Why was there a desire to switch companies? Yeah I mean at the timetwitter was not really great in Te. It wasn't really known quantity back intwenty ten, when I joined already had a lot of press and people talked about it,but when I told my parents they were like, are you crazy, you're joining forthis start up like thing that doesn't really add any value to the world likewhat is twitter doing to help people and obviously like no one says that nowit's clear what an impact on society twitter has had, but at the time it wasjust seen as like a place to kind of put a status message, an kind of like ajoke, and so everyone thought I was crazy for leaving you know a prettyestablished big technology company for twitter and in retrospect that was notso crazy and has paid off for me in many ways, and I think after that move,I just gained a lot more confdence a lot of times. These bets don't work out,but to have my first one kind of work be like look. I joined this thing thatwasn't anything and then became something really major and got to seethe company IPO and grow just a massive amount. It gave me a lot of confidenceto then take that to my next move and then, ultimately, my own company YeahNice. I can imagine your parents when they saw like the Arab revolutionhappening because of people twittering to you, know, organized meat up sospent okay. This company did have an impact on society, but with twitterjust quickly. You sound, like you were early enough, I'm always curious whenyou do get in as whatever it is. First, ten, first twenty or something employsat a company that does have the success of twitter. Do you, like? I don't knowif this is your case and- and you know please tell me if it is, but were youable to get enough early equity that you were very tied into the success oftwitter for your? You know your potential future net worth even you,like you, know, you're thinking about...

...this. Is My retirement money or thiscould be my house or something like that where you tied in that way yeah,so I joined around two hundred employees, which was still very earlycompared to where twitter is today, and I think that the thing I always tellpeople is like it's not really. You can join a company as the second employ inthat company could go nowhere. It's how you think the company could grow fromwhen you join, and you know you could have joined stripe as the two hundred employee andlook at where Stripe is day you be able to retire, and so it's like what is thecompany valued at today and where do you think it could be valued at is kindof the bet you're making and then, of course, thinking about your equity, andI don't think I really prioritize that as like a young twenty something- andyou know, of course hindsight is two thousand and twenty, but I was was like.Oh I make a good salary. That'll be great. I can pay my rent I wish. Inretrospect, I had negotiated from more equity, but it was still a greatlearning experience to get to be a twitter through that phase, and I thinkthe most value I extracted was not the financial outcome, which could haveobviously been a lot better, but was really the what I learned and thepeople I met along the way, a fair enough. Okay, it's funny. I now I feellike it's not obvious to me. It seems like it should be, but I am so immersedin the start out world that it's like. Of course, equity is a part of whatyou're thinking about as a new program. Er employee at Tech started up, but Irealized too, I think back to my twenties. I would not have beenthinking about equity whatsoever been just like. Let's find a job at acompany, I want to work at and that would have been about it. So I haven'treally heard anything entrepreneur yet in your life story. So far with thesefirst two companies, so you were very much programmer working for othercompanies when did the inkling for I might want to do. My own thing start toyou know, bubble up in your brain yeah and I was a product manager, so I waskind of even removed from the actual making of the product in that way, likeyour little bit higher level in terms of your, you know, spending a lot ofyour time, communicating internally and pitching steak holders not even gettingto build the actual thing. I never had that entrepreneurial drive like I amnot the kid that had a lemonade stand or had some side business. I was alwaysthe type of person, and I still really am that wanted to just execute on athing and kind of achieve, but I liked you know not a lot of ambiguity justlike knowing exactly what I had to do. So I never thought I would be anentrepreneur. I thought I would work through the ranks of the company and bea sea level executive some day, but not a CEO, and it really wasn't until I hadmy first daughter that I realized there was a huge opportunity to buildsomething for parents and that I had worked with these amazing peoplethroughout my career. Solving really hard problems, really talented peopleand none of those people were doing anything for parents. None of thosepeople were making the most important thing that was top of mind to me anyeasier or better, and I saw that as both an opportunity and also likesomething I felt. If I didn't do this and I didn't work on this problem likewho would like here I was, I had a lot of privilege and talent and a network,and if I was like no, I won't do it I'll. Let someone else do it. I feltlike no one would ever do it and no one you know in the five and a half yearsof building. When is still no one has done what we've built? No peitersreally. So I was right. No one would do this and we are. We are changing lives.So I'm glad I did, and I think the impact we can have is still so muchgreater, but just seeing the impact we've had already. It is my bowing sojust to clarify that, but, like...

...obviously you have a child and there'sa lot of problems. No doubt when you have a child that you suddenly havenever had to deal with before. Why did child care surface, as the one you feltwas the most desirable for you to even you know, go after with the startupidea yeah. So it took us a while to figure out that child care was thething we should be working on. We started winning and I met my co founder.While we were both working at post mates, we both had young children andmy co founder is extremely talented, she's, a designer, an engineer or she's,our head of crowdut she's, like everything, and so I like kind ofhooked up with this really talented person, and I felt like well like weshould be doing something to help parents and she felt the same way. Butwe didn't know what we just knew like. We could build a really talented team.We had the insight we could fund raise like we got to do something here, butwe had no idea and the first few things we tried did not work. They didn't haveproduct market that we actually spent years iterated to get to where we aretoday, but ultimately, what it came down to is like we can't really solveanything for parents unless we solve the most basic fundamental need, whichis the care and education of their children like. There is absolutelynothing that trumps that like, if you cannot care and educate your kids, noneof this other stuff matters, and so that was really a great starting point.And then the fact that literally no one was was operating on for the most partor the incumbents were just so bad, so horrible that it certainly helped thatit was just like this huge white space that we felt like we could tackle thisand kind of gain traction pretty quickly. I total, if you got to mentionthe post mates connection from from twitter, to pose mates to now. We Nijust quickly the reason you swithin twitter to post mates was again justwanting to be in a new new, smaller company, or so I had spent four yearsat twitter and by that time, had worked on a bunch of different areas, theproduct and really wanted the experience of like building a team andworking with a smaller team being on the executive team at a company and wasable to kind of get that moving to a smaller company, and it was also a postmates was a product. I used a lot of the time and was important in my lifeand I think that's kind of a has been a theme for me. Like the thing I work onhas to be meaningful to my life and I kind of felt like I wanted to work onsomething that I was a big user of. I like the way you got this progressionfrom Super Big Company or recently big company at the time, Google andslightly smaller, start up twitter and then even smaller, post mates, it'salmost like you're your gaining skills and then you're also because you'reworking in a smaller company have more responsibility, more leadership andthen, of course, when you start your own thing, it's the ultimate inleadership and being in point control. You mention before so you're in postmates. You meet your co founder. You realize she's super talented! Did it golike you? Both were pregnant around the same time and you both found yourselvestalking about the same sort of problem, because you did mention whinny'scurrent iteration about childcare. Wasn't the first version you had lotsof things you played around with. Was that something you too did as like aside house, while you were in Pesma, so you fully quit and then raise money foran idea and then pivot to another one. How did it play out in the early daysyeah? So first of all, I had just had my first daughter and she had two youngchildren already. So when I came back to work after my brief maternity leave,I was like Whoa. This is really epan hard. It is hard to be a working parentand it has changed my life in these...

...ways that I did not expect. I thought Iwould just pop out this baby get right back to work and like everything, wouldbe great and suddenly my whole mind set shifted and what I cared about in lifeshifted and this child. My daughter was more important to me than Iexpected. I'm more. I thought about her more than I expected. I went beforehaving children and I still do today so disrupting force. So we just kind of talked about parenting.I didn't know a lot of parents at the time. My friends didn't really havekids, and so we just kind of bonded over being parents and working in techbeing mothers, and when we decided it would be more meaningful in our livesto build something for parents. We realized, like there was no side hustlelike as a parent. Your side Hustle is parented as a working parent. There isno time for an additional side, Hussle at least not for us, and then also wewanted to build a company that we would want to work at as working parents. Weboth felt like outsiders in tech and a post maids at the time we were nursing,moms and like it just we felt like kind of freaks. We were like. We want tobuild a company where we feel like this is the norm, and we have definitelysucceeded in that like that is one of the things I'm most proud of it when heis like it is just the norm to have children and to be parenting, alongsideof working, obviously with great child care and the Nex hope. So we've just built a company that we feellike we could work at for the rest of our lives, which is something that wasreally important to us both. So it was at a sign asl. So did you to quit,raise funding and what were you pitching at that point? Yeah we quit.Initially we didn't raise funding, and I mean that speaks to privilege like wefelt like. There are not many people in the world who can just quit and nothave any income and work on what they feel like is important to work on andalso be builders like we ourselves built the first version of Winnie yeah,that's amazing e, and so we just felt like there's not many people in thisposition. We got to take advantage of it. So just to clarify, when you sayyou didn't need funding, is that because you could rely on your spousesor you had some money saved up from previous jobs or yeah? Both I mean weboth have partners, but we also have savings and I had done fairly well inmy career, and so I saw a runaway though. Like did you feel, like you hadto succeed in twelve months like how long did you give yourselves to make itwork? You know we never really talked about that. I should have, but what happened was like as soon aswe decided to start something. There were some people that came to us thatwe had known from other jobs that were now investors that were like. Why don'tyou raise a little bit of funding, and that was that preceed I spoke to andthat kind of just gave us some some capital, the ability to hire an theability to feel like we weren't eating into our savings. If it took us sometime to get to product market fit and a boy did it take us time? It did so, I'mvery glad in retrospect that we raised, because I think we would have probablybeen trying to monetize and make a quick buck sooner, and it was reallylucky that we got the opportunity to just build a lot of value and figureout the thing that really created value in the world before we had to worryabout. How do we make money? Okay, cool, forgive me for getting really granular,but I find him very interesting at this phase of a start up. So what was thatfirst, seed, Fel, like initial investor, is that Angel Gusting? I guess, for itwas actually a firm called home brew. They invest or now they, I think, havekind of grown a bunch and invest in all different stages. But at the time youknow they would invest even pre product.

So we didn't have anything built. Weknew the partners at home throw quite well from previous jobs and they werejust willing to make a bed on US really at the end of the day. Okay, so likethey give you half a million dollars, you go higher a couple of engineers isthat sort of how it plays out in that very first yeah. I think they even gaveus less and we kind of then were able to get other investors along, and so Ithink in total, in that very first round it was like five hundred k oftotal funding, maybe even bless, but that was a lot to work with yeah.That's good to it's a fantastic starting pit for no product, yet forsure. How do you spend that? I'm always like? I can imagine myself in thatsituation, I'm like! Well, I got all these ideas for features. I want tobuild you being technical, can build a certain amount each day, you're onlyone person and maybe you're a CO founder of you said she was technicalto so you want a good work in product, but it still must feel a little bitslow like do you think all right, let's put all this money into engineering oryou thinking no we'll need to save some of this for marketing or something else like. Howdo you think about those first? First few dollars spent yeah, we put it allinto engineering and we still do like that is where we spend all of our myproduct, an engineering, okay yeah, so we hired two engineers. We both workedon the product ourselves as well, and we built a first version. In six months,we hadn't launched, live in the APP store, and so we could learn veryquickly whether this thing was working and whether it really had productmarket fit and spoiler. Were it didn't? What was that first version? I what itwated to do so? Basically, it was kind of like a yelp for parents. We had alldifferent kinds of places listed and Winnie with sort of information aboutthem in a community. It was sort of the kitchen sint, although that wasn'treally that useful and didn't really do anything well. What we were able tolearn from that was a that. There was one thing people were trying to do inour product. That was changing their lives when they could do it, which wasfine daycare an preschool. So we saw people using the APP to search for daycares and preschools near them. The apt didn't do that well at all, and it kindof gave us this idea that, like one of the apt did that part a lot better andthat's kind of where we got the idea for what winny is today. Okay,interesting I've never had a child, so I don't know what the like. I neverneed to go to Google search for child care. So what was before when he camealong the current way, you would normally find child care. Google isdefinitely one of them. So it's still, you know this is our main source ofusers. is people just typing into Google or new users day care near me orpreschool near me, or Take Care Best Day cares in San Francisco or whateverit may be, but also it's very much still kind of like an offline privatenetwork sort of search. Where you'd ask your friends and you look around yourneighborhood, it's still very much done the old fashioned way and it takesparents weeks and months and they're left with feeling like they don't havea lot of options, that those options are unaffordable, that there might be along weight list because they don't actually know what all their optionsare and can't really compare them without an aggregator like winning.Okay, I can imagine it's a huge decision like this. These are strangersare going to leave your child with possibly the first time ever. You leavethem with strangers, and then you want to know things like references who arethe people looking after your children, what kind of education might they begetting and then, like you said, if it's going to be handled more in a sortof underground network of parents talking to each other? That's all abouttrust through reference, I can imagine you're thinking. Okay, can we take someof these ideas and digitize that so there is a resource that sort of hasthe equivalent? Is that how you thought...

...of? I guess we need to point out,because you started as a yelp and then like, because I think about Yelp, it'smore like search results with reviews right. You know what is that, and thatwas what we need sort of was initially too, as search results with reviews.How does it iterate from there to provide a better match to the pointwhere I don't know how far away that version was to what you have today likewhat was version two and version three and so on yeah? I mean parents werereally flying blind before winning, like you. Just didn't. Have thesecritical pieces of information that you needed to make decisions, and when thathappens, the demand the people searching or edit just a tremendousdisadvantage. When there's this kind of information disparity and what it leadsto is like you know, certain providers can be way more expensive just becausethey have better marketing presents with parents, but not actually providea better quality of service. So we also wanted to really make level the playingfield, make it about quality and comparing quality, which can bemeasured on a bunch of different levels. There's just some basic safety information thatparents do need to know that they didn't know before. Winning which islike is this provider licensed. Is that license still in good standing parentsweren't checking that or had any way to get to that information, and we made itfront and center, so there was sort of the basic. Let's just expose theinformation that parents need to make decisions. You know very much what Zilodid for real estate, but then I kind of the next level and where we're at todayis like to really improve the way parents purchase care and education. Weneed the providers on board, we need them on the other side of the marketplace because they unlock the real, both information and and value likethey need to tell us whether they have open spaces and who those open spacesare for, and the prices of their program and all the natigay detailsabout the program. So we can make these matches and they need to be responsiveto parents to inquire, and so that has really been the big kind of unlock forus is getting those providers on and then that fly well really starts tospin. When you have both the supply and demand using your platform, I was goingto ask actually being a two sided market place. That's always thechallenge right. You have to have supply and you have to have demand, andoften you can't really get demand until you have supply and can you maybe I canimagine all right, your technical team. You build the platform, you can allowpeople to search it and allow people to add information once it's there. Do youthen go okay? We need to create a team. That's like an an outbound connectingwith all the day care centers getting them to on board the information. Didyou create a team to do that or how did that happen? Yeah? So I think theadvantage we had here is like what existed was so so bad that s even justbuilding the basic like directory of every license date. Care and preschoolwas enough to be a hundred x better than anything that sifted, because Ididn't exist and so that gobs the demand like as soon as we started.Building that and putting these pages up INDE national traction, we wereranking in Google search people were talking about us. We were gaining likeword of mouth traction, people were downloading our APS, and so we kind ofwere able to solve the demand side and then the harder part was and is thesupply. Getting the day, cares and pre schools on board and now we're not juststay care at preschool. We're expanding into other forms of care and education.It's a super, fragmented market and providers are not necessarily tech. Avelike not as Texas is parents necessarily may not use any technologyto run their business and much to their disadvantage like if parents arelooking for these things on the Internet and trying to connect, thoughthe Internet, it's a problem as a...

...business, if you're not on the Internet,and I think one of the things that really helped was actually Ovid,because it sort of forced adoption of technology, even providers that werereluctant to adopt technology like it made everyone in the world thetechnology in a way that that pace was sort of unprecedented. So really thatwas a kind of a game changer for the provider adoption side and it's sort ofonly accelerated from there. It was sort of the tipping point event thatwas needed. I think to really shake up the industry, and I'm really hopefuland optimistic that this industry is now going to be an internet industryand get all the kind efficiencies of the Internet that this industry isdesperately needs. Okay, the one thing I'd not quite understanding, though, soyou were able to create a directory without participation of the daycarecenters. Is that just because that information is really available, youhave to kind of collect it. But when you say participation you mean theyactually need to go in there and add certain parts of the information thatyou can't get from directories plus B, responsive to queries, and things likethat. Is that what you mean yeah, so the amazing thing about a lot of childcare. Datas, it's public, it's just not accessible licensing data is requiredto be public in all fifty states, but it's not actually something parents canaccess easily on the Internet. So building that integration with statelicensing databases is a big part of the work we do and yeah. That gets USreally only basic information, and so it is really critical that providerscome on and we do have a bunch of kind of automated systems that get providerson Winnie, but also they find us very much. In the same way, parents do justthrough a Google search, and that has been really helpful, especially duringOvid, when a lot of them had to turn to the Internet to run and manage theirbusiness. They didn't really have a choice to provide a physical tour. Theyhad to meet parents virtually, and so we were there like. We were there whenthey were all having this moment of embracing the Internet and thatcertainly helped okay. So I guess I'll encourage all the listeners here toactually head to Winnica to, because I know part of this, for me is like I canthink of a Yelp, but I'm sure there's more layers to how you're presentinginformation and how people can interact with all the providers, so we canobviously go and experience it on Winnica you're obviously made thechoice to become venture back once you have the opportunity and, as I said atthe base start of this, you have most recently raised nine million correctly.If I'm wrong in whatever round, we want to call that an a round or somethinglike that. I'd love to know a couple of things: Ay. What do you do with ninemillion that you keep pouring it into more engineers and more development, bewhat was it like to actually be the C of a company raising nine money whichI'm assuming is a little different? Like a new experience, you had comparedto raising the very first initial seed funding. Let's start with those two, Idon't overwhelm you with questions o hunts, yeah yeah, so we did mostlyspend it on product and enger Ng. I mean we still like the majority of ourexpenses. Are The team and head count because we are building a platform,there's not a massive operational expense and there'snot you know we're not physically building goods that we then sell. So itis the team that that cost the money- and I think you know, while wedefinitely the core of our team or engineers, we now have some otherfunctions like folks that talk to providers and get them on board andalso help them be really successful in our platform and those functions arereally important. N, as we grow in...

...scale, so definitely like expandingbeyond what I'm personally good at and know and hiring for like which isproduct in engineering and really getting out of my comfort zone andrealizing like to really grow in scales, a business. We need o sales andmarketing, and these other functions that are so critical and was it hard tohave more money? Go I mean the actual process of raising,though how was that, as a yeah, you know fundraising is not my favorite. Ithink it's tough, because when your fun reason you're not necessarily workingday to day on the business and especially in the earlier stages, thatcan be really hard, because you don't necessarily have that team of likeexecutives behind you to run the business and you are used to being thedata day manager of a lot of things. So that's kind of the hardest part for meis like context, switching between eatings with investors and all thethings that I just need to actually do to keep this business going day to daylike going into the office and picking up mail and I to stuff. It's like justmen, dazing stuff, that you don't you don't have anyone else covering at theearlier stages. I think it's also sometimes tough, because the way investors might want to thinkabout your business or interpret what your building is not necessarily right.It's there kind of quick split second decision based on like the mental modelthey have of the world. They haven't been working on this for the years thatyou have and they don't know all the nuances and so trying to get that all across to investors in ashort period of time. I've always found it really really tough and I thinkfinally like child care and education is not the sexiest area for investors,and it should be it's a massive massive market, two hundred twelve billiondollar industry in the US alone and really, but for whatever reason,probably because a lot of investors are white, men who've never experiencedthis issue themselves before or they have someone else handling child carefor them. They don't feel it visiray. It just hasn't been the sexy area forinvestment, and so it's just it's frustrating. When you see a bigopportunity- and you know what you're working on is huge and life changingand meaningful, and then you get an investor who's like. I didn't reallyhave this problem, because my living nanny is awesome and you know it's beenfine once we found her, it's been great, it's like that's not how the worldworks. That's not how the majority of real people in this country operate.That's probably the most frustrating card for me about some reason. If I'mjust again reading your information, I found about you about that series. A itwas rethink impact was the lead of that round and it was female lead. So Ithink that speaks to what you're talking about there, having the senseof actually experiencing the problem. So understanding you know your visionand so on. I've never heard of them, so is that they like knew er on the sceneor have they been great? I mean they're awesome. Breathing impact is actuallyone of the largest funds that invest in women. Founders and they've been anincredible partner to us, as has reached capital which let our seedround. We also have a woman on our board from reach, and Imean I think that is like one of the big missing pieces like we need morewomen in investing roles at the highest levels, like not just oh there's awoman on the team and therefore were covered, but like real decision makers,who can have conviction and not need to...

...convince a group of like that's anotherthing I found is, I would have a great connection with like the woman investorand then she would have to convince like all of her male partners, thatthis thing was going to be huge and they'd, be like. I don't know Child Care Education. Is it really thatbig is it you know? Is it an FT and well then it would fall apart and sohaving not just women at the table, but womenwho are able to make decisions who are confident and convicted enough to makea bet in something that is not necessarily male dominated and sexy tomen, I think, is what we need to see more of and like. We have just been sofortunate to have investors that have these firms that are not just havewomen at the table, but are actually a women led funds. It's surprising, Iwould have thought just like you said. The total addressable market size likehow many babies are born is a pretty large market. You know it's the entirehuman race right, so I would have been surprised that they wouldn't have seenthe potential for this being like a billion dollar plus company. On thatnote, so it sounds like they on the story. You're sort of sharing a lot of product building has been so far,you're focus with Winnie, which makes a plate sense, and I know you said rightat the start before you switch to actually getting investors. You werethinking well, we'll probably need to focus on revenue and actually have amonetization model earlier on, because we need to be able to make money tokeep going and that's more like the sort of non venture back business model.But then you got backing so you were able to sort of focus on product andnot necessarily think about the money side. Where are you at with that rightnow? I D like: Are you still just building features or do you need toshow some sort of revenue return now or how does it look on the runway yeah? Sowe focused first on value creation prior to value capture, which I think alot of market places. Do you need to start this way to grow yeah, so we gavea way a lot of value for free and ultimately, we realized like we couldstart to capture some of this value. So the value is that like we are, we arefilling spaces in child care and education providers. We are puttingbutts and seats and we were doing that all for free and child care is a reallyreally expensive purchase. So when you think about the cost of full time care on average in the United States is likefourteen thousand dollars a year and then some cities- it's like three x asmuch so you know even just filling one space. That's fourteen tosend in annualrevenue that that business you're adding to that business. So we startedrealizing our customers were the daters and pre schools who are reallybenefiting from filling their spaces and burning revenue faster on thoseopen spots and started basically monetizing them getting a take of thatvalue that we're sending them- and I mean we're still very white on thevalue capture, in other words like we're, not taking anywhere near what we should be for the kind of valuewe're creating, but we're kind of. Okay with that for now, as we grow, ournetwork and kind of increase, the just overall size and scale of our businessand just become more and more kind of fundamental, like it's getting to besort of impossible to do a day care in preschool search without using winningat some point in your process, which is a great place to be as kind of anaggregator market place, and so we're really happy with power growing in thatdirection, and our revenue has kind of increased along with our growth andjust in the last year, like we grew our...

...revenue. Tex, were you know very closeto being a profitable business like real profitability? I think not notthis like kind of fake measure or profitability, so that's kind of agreat place to be and we're not in a rush to get there faster because we feel like it's, it's very close,Okalona UATION, it's not easy n with the market place, especially like yousaid you really got to build the value first and that's hard. So I can seeespecially like I don't know what the profit margin is for running a daycarecenter like you know what their potential is for, giving you guys partof that. You know where they start resisting taking on whinny as asupplier, but I can imagine there's a lot of room so and not that, just likeyou said one thing yeah I mean what's amazing about like the Child CareIndustry is it. It varies like like. There are some businesses in childcarethat are not even profitable themselves like they are running at a loss away.There are other businesses that are extremely profitable, like look at thenine billion dollar market cap company Bright Horizons that operates. You know,hundreds of day cares across the US, and part of that is. We believetechnology can help, make these businesses more profitable and helpthem run a lot more efficiently, and so that's kind of where we see our role islike. Can we make every child care business that is high quality, aprofitable, growing, thriving business? And then, of course, we can share inthat, but we should be increasing the profitability of the business not justlike taking from the existing profit margin. Yeah. That makes sense. I canimagine for a lot of DECAS. Their presence on your site is their websitelike that's the only presence they have online. So it's that way for aboutfifty percent of the providers on our Blato, which is insane but yeah. It'salmost like you're, a shopper fie for the day care world, which I would neverhave thought of, but it's kind of the way you could look at it. It was onething I was thinking of that it's slipped my mind now what you weresaying that Sarah, how was it but yeah so with going forward with the growthof this? Is it a case of you managing okay? We want to focus onvalue creation. More than now you capture, like you said, but at somepoint, do you go okay, now we're going to switch. We've got such a presence.We've really. I don't know if you're going global or you know us a first butand then you think, okay, let's switch on premium list things let's switch on.I don't know other types of subscriptions. You could sell directlyon the platform because you have such an audience of parents, it could beother things. Is that the way your vision is kind of like that big? Isthat how you're thinking yeah I mean we just really believe in like making thisprocess for both parents and providers a lot easier and better and moreefficient and the value capture kind of comes along with that,like as we continue to improve their businesses, and we continue to makethis better for parents like we just this is a massive massive market. Thereis no question of like how big this business can be. We do believe, likeit's very important, to keep the product free for parents. Parentsalready pay way more than they can afford in child care and educationexpenses. So we don't want to add to that, and we have a great customer inthe business itself. He the day care and preschool who we are hoping to makemore money, and so it just doesn't make sense for us to charge parents anythingfor now or the forceable future, like I think it would have to we'd have toreally expand in some into some adjacent area. For there to ever besomething we charge, parents for right right, like you're, not going tosuddenly start selling nappies on the platform or something like that. That'sgoing to be quite divergent yeah. Maybe second last question here: Maybe towrap it up. Sarah, the domain name, winnica fantastic. How did you manageto get that and where is there an origin story behind? While you chosethat name? Yes, so when we started...

...whinny like first and foremost beforewe even knew what product we were building, we knew it would be importantto have a strong brand for parenting in particular, like brand, is everythingyou trust a brand, and this we knew we would be working on something thatinvolved a lot of trust from parents and really could be something that theywould not just use but remember and share with friends and really believein. It was really important to us that it be a brand that was, you know asinclusive as possible, not just for Moms, not just for dad's, for anyonewith children in their lives like care, divers teachers, obviously MOMS andDads, and a lot in parenting is so exclusive. Like there's just this wholeconcept of a mother's group. That is just basically for women, but onlycertain kinds of women of certain status, and what that does is it justmakes it really hard for other people to participate in the care, givingprocess and increases the burden on like way certain people to do all thiswork. So it was just really important to us to pick a brand that could be asinclusive as possible, and then we also knew we wanted to build a business thatwould have a lot of traction on the Internet and so having a brand. Thatwas easy to say and spell and remember and get the domain and all the handlesassociated with it was important. So we looked into that before we picked a aname, so that's kind of how we landed with Winnie it sort of had all thosequalities and we were able to get the domain winnica. How was it I kind of beworking for our like kind of strategy of we rank and search, but then,ideally we're getting enough traction in a region that people just rememberus and can say, like Oh you're looking for day care go to winning you're.Looking for your preschool, I found mine on Winnie and then, when they type in when e it takesthem to the domain. In itself, though, thatthat's like a one word com, it can have been easy. I'm guessing that wasn'tavailable you. You must have had to have purchased that from someone else,I'm guessing. We did have to buy it, but it was not being used, and I thinkit is important when we had a domain broker, but it is important to do a bitof that research beforehand, yeah, because if we would have picked Googlethere was no possible way in the world. We could have ever gotten a Domin, butwe picked one that was not being really used or valued by anyone exactly likeyou wanted to have been like an adult entertainment site prior to switchingto Winnie that would have had a bad sort of history to connect with justlittle curious to maybe now I'll say. Second last question a sir: You workingwith your Co, founder and and now it's been sort of doing. My math in my headraise nine million around you're, probably looking at fifty million ishvaluations depending on up or down, but that's huge. That's amazing, like youtwo must be. You know obviously very proud of what you've done. Em. No doubtyou see a big future as well as you lots of work to do still. How are youto enjoying working together still, since it was just you at the beginningand no doubt a bigger team? Now Yeah, I mean the CO founder relationship. It isfor me very similar to a marriage. Is it's a long term commitment and youhave to work at it? It's not just this thing. That's always going to be thebest times ever and you go through highs and lows, and you really wantsomeone that is going to be with you through. All of that, my counter Ann isamazing and we've both kind of been through real highs and lows. Duringthis journey of Winny, my husband got...

...cancer. One point in starting thecompany. I had two additional kids. She had one additional kid. While we wereworking on this, she got quite sick at another point, and so there were timeswhen we've, both like leaned in times when we've had to lean out and coverfor the other one. I really didn't understand how critical aCO founder is to the kind of lasting position of your company. I really donot believe I don't believe I could have parented my kids without myhusband. I don't believe I could have gotten winny this far without my cofounder. I know people do it and there are tons of single founders and thereare tons of single parents, but for me those two relationships have been socritical. I don't believe I personally could have done it without the supportof my co founder yeah. It really is like a marriage. I have a CO founder tofor my own company and it is very much like not just making business decisionsbut managing everything around life as well, so yeah last question: What isthe day in the life of Sarah, like at the moment, I'm imagining it's not likewhen the company was first started when it was you probably sitting in acomputer, creating product now you're doing hiring your fund raising. Butwhat is a typical day for you like yeah, it's like so much less exciting duringOvid, because it's basically meat getting out of bed, maybe showering andgoing into my office and lacking the door. So my children don't come anddisturb it. But as far as like what I spend my time and energy on, it'sreally never the product, and I think that has been the hardest thing for meas a product person is someone who loves getting into the weeds andworking on the Nitty Gritty, knowing that, like that is not the best use ofmy time. One of the top things I spend my time on is communication. It'scommunicating internally like what is important at any time and making surethat everyone has the right context to make decisions and to buildindependently of me and its external communication to our board, to investors to potential investors it'sto our customers and potential customers. I often feel just like abroken record and often repeating the same things, and I think it's reallyunderestimated how important that is. So I end my days a lot of times withlike no voice. I think I'm having that now but likeit's, because you're just doing a lot of communication, and that is kind ofyour main value as a leader is like you hold all the context and you need tomake sure that other people have that context to be able to expand and scalewhat you could do yourself. I'm glad your voice has lasted all the way tothe end of this episode, terras anything else. You want to throw iteveryone before we rough up the interview. No, thank you so much. Thiswas wonderful. I appreciate it and thank you for showing you know thewhole story, the early days and everything you're doing now. I feellike we're kind of catching you maybe round one of three or four for winnywith lots lots of potential growth in your future. So I look forward to thewatching how everything goes and yeah. I think you were sharing the story asto thank you so much. I hope you enjoy today's interview withSarah and the Winnica story. I especially like that, because I'malways thinking about a potential marketplace idea that I could possiblystart in my future, but I know the challenges of Engineering. Obviouslyyou need either to be an engineer and certainly have money to hire engineersto build a platform whether it is Sasbach a marketplace web basedwhatever it is, you're going to need that technical solution and hearing howSarah built her platform, how she used her funding, what it was likedestroying the company. It was really...

...insightful. My brain was certainlyclicking away in the background and I really appreciated, Sarah being so openand transparent, sharing those steps you went through and I'm lookingforward to seeing where, when he goes, part of me was also saying Jeez. I wishI could have invested in winny during that first seed round being one of ourAngel Investors, I certainly would have said yes, I think it is a massivemarket that certainly needs a solution and it's a high value market. Theamount of money being spent in the space is massive. So that's a lot ofpowerful decision making to be a part of that. I think Winnie right now isvery well placed, so as always, if you liked this episode, if you have afriend or a family member or a colleague, would benefit from hearingSarah's story, send them to episode twenty one of vested capital, thepodcast that you just listen to and tell them they should subscribe andlisten to this episode, Twenty One with Sarah, the founder of winnicongew andalso you should subscribe as well. If you haven't clicked the plus button,the follow button, the subscribe button, whatever APP you're using they'll, be abutton like that that you can click to subscribe, and you can also do that. Bygoing to my blog Yaro DOT B, l o g you'll see link for the podcast thereor just vested capital podcast com. I have that domain name, it redirects tothe podcast page on my blog as well spread the word. I really appreciateyour reviews on Itunes as well. Obviously, that really helps if youhave a minute or two and you've listened to this right now and itunes.Click that review button leave five stars. Let me know what you like aboutthe show and also, if you happen to have any guests, you think would begreat. I love hearing from successful founders, like Sarah People, doingamazing things with Crypto with real estate with in the best thing, sendthem my way, love to hear and share their story on the vest of capital.Show: Okay, that's it from me. My name is Yaro. I will talk to you on the verynext episode invested capital. Thank you for listening, bye, bye,.

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