Brisbane-based babysitting application Kiddo is gearing up for national expansion after childcare conglomerate G8 Education (ASX: GEM) acquired a 20 per cent stake in the company.
Owning more than 470 childcare centres across Australia, G8’s backing will help Kiddo scale up in Queensland, Victoria and NSW in addition to spearheading the app’s roll-out in other states and territories.
Speaking with Business News Australia, Kiddo founder and director Rebecca Dredge said she was “super excited” for the company’s next chapter.
“This partnership will allow us to roll out what we do on a national level. Rolling out with G8 Education behind it – their brand and presence with so many centres around Australia will help us scale a lot,” she said.
The on-demand app, which screens caregivers by requesting a working with children check and ID, allows parents to book a babysitter with as little as two hours’ notice.
Since launching three years ago, it has grown to accommodate 12,000 users.
While the majority of customers are from Southeast Queensland, Dredge said the app expanded into Cairns when Queensland families began travelling intrastate last year when interstate travel opportunities were limited.
From there, Kiddo also established a “small presence” in Sydney and Melbourne as parents juggled caretaking their children and working from home.
“There's been a whole different mindset and change in behaviour since COVID,” Dredge said.
“Some parents are working from home and might need someone for a few hours in the middle of the day to book a babysitter.
“[Others] struggle with their child not being actually sick – they’ve got a sniffle - but can't send them to daycare because they will be worried it is COVID.”
G8 Education CEO and managing director Gary Carroll said the strategic investment in Kiddo would help the company provide access to care outside centre-based services, giving flexibility for families and educators.
"Our purpose is to create the foundations for learning for life, and this means being adaptive to the evolving needs and preferences of our families and educators,” Carroll said.
“Providing high-quality early learning outcomes through great centre teams remains our key priority, however changes to the workforce and childcare patterns since COVID-19 are influencing the delivery of early learning services.”
To keep pace with the evolving demands spurred by the pandemic, Kiddo launched an ‘ongoing care’ feature in late 2021 allowing parents to advertise babysitting roles on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
“Parents don't just need care from 7am until 6pm when centres are open,” Dredge said.
“We've got nurses that do shift work and people that just might need a few hours in the afternoon. Care can come in many forms. Kiddo offers parents a solution for when they need after-hours care for their children.”
To ensure parents will find babysitters that suit their needs, Kiddo’s carer profiles show whether someone has a driver’s licence, first aid certification or if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.
For Dredge, reaching this stage with Kiddo has meant overcoming self-doubt.
“I know as a female and as a mother, you can get overwhelmed. You can have imposter syndrome and not put yourself out there as much as you should,” she said.
But when Kiddo became one of five companies selected into the River City Labs’ Activate Plus Program last year, the experience helped raise the founder’s confidence.
“That was a really intense program where we had six weeks to re-evaluate what we were doing, fine-tune where we wanted to be and our strategic goals,” Dredge said.
“River City Labs really honed what Kiddo could look like, what we could achieve.”
Dredge’s next goal? Getting Kiddo into New Zealand.
“I want Kiddo to be a household name,” she said.
“My first job was as a babysitter in my teenage years. It makes me feel super proud to know that I'm helping carers out there earn extra income on the side and helping parents live better lives.”
“Whether it’s them needing a break, which makes them be better parents for their children or helping them be better at work - it's helping everyone.”
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