Digitizing a Timeless Tradition: Long Beach Startup Uses Software to Innovate Old-School Childcare

ScottWaymanTechWeek

Scott Wayman (Left) at the 2015 Los Angeles Techweek. 

More than a decade ago, at the age of 28, Scott Wayman experienced the unthinkable: after a family tragedy (the death of both parents), he was entrusted with taking care of his 10-year-old brother.

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The incident resulted in an in-depth knowledge of the system that a typical man without any children of his own may not otherwise understand.

“To say parenting absolutely requires support is an understatement,” said Wayman, who adopted his little brother and put him through school while working as a young professional in Orange County.

As Wayman puts it in his elevator pitch for Kangarootime, a cloud-based software application aimed at streamlining childcare for both parents and providers, today’s childcare practices were left behind in the “digital revolution.” They rely primarily on paperwork, while the rest of the world has become increasingly digitized.

“I learned that this was a very underserved market, and what we called a centrifuge of chaos,” said Wayman in his pitch at Vator Splash LA. “First of all, the revenue cycle is inherently broken. A school could have 500 different students at 500 different rates.”

That very speech—outlining the niche impact of a software platform for childcare, which could clock children in and out of daycare (according to state regulations), allow parents to share pictures of their children playing at daycare and enable an online payment system—resulted in the company winning Vator Splash LA, and finishing as a runner-up for seed funding at Techweek LA.

The Vator Splash winnings resulted in seed funding from Mucker Capital, and word-of-mouth praise in the tech community for Kangarootime.

Not bad for a former college football player from Texas with a Psychology degree, who has since relocated to Long Beach, where he lives with his wife. Wayman founded his first company after his father, a dad to 24 children, died, shortly after college.

His 10-year-old brother came to him after his mother was diagnosed with ALS, shortly after he’d purchased a home in a good school district in Fullerton.

“I always knew I’d build something for early childcare,” said Wayman, after his initial experiences with childcare, through his brother.

The key to the product is the niche audience he seeks to serve. With that in mind, the software’s purpose is superbly functional, providing a need for childcare that goes beyond what Facebook did for social networking, in Wayman’s words.

Kangarootime

Image courtesy of Scott Wayman. 

“Our vertical is not that sexy—it’s childcare,” said Wayman. “But the investment community sees that there’s a need.”

The software consists of cloud-based software with capabilities such as automated classrooms, automated billing, geolocating the user to check the child in and out without manually signing in, the capability of sharing elements of one’s profile so that friends and family can drop the child off at daycare using the same mechanism, and the ability to share photos and other data. Other features include a message center (in which the daycare center and parents can communicate) and calendar.

Wayman said that 23 percent of all sales leads come from family and friend downloads, as they are taking part in the child’s life as well.

In terms of making a profit, Kangarootime’s business model relies on a flat rate charged on the credit cards of centers using the software—a three percent fee. Wayman says the company makes money within that three percent.

After hunkering down and starting the company about a year ago with the Founder Institute of Los Angeles, Wayman has experienced a few notable successes, befriending members of Long Beach’s i-team and “geeking out on other founders” while winning at Vator Splash, which Airbnb won a few years ago.

This month, the company is up to 65 centers, and hopes to close this summer with 100 accounts, said Wayman.

The target customer, what Wayman called Kangarootime’s “strike zone,” consists of early childhood education centers, or “ECEs,” 80 percent of which are still using paper records.

“If you monetize our ‘frictionless’ model, using software and tablets, we automate 100 hours of labor,” said Wayman. Such time saving could prove valuable in an industry where every second of each hectic day counts.

ScottWaymanAt this point in time, Kangarootime is up to 11 employees, and is looking to be up to 30 by the end of the summer.

“Your first 10 employees have to be ninjas,” said Wayman, who said everyone who works for him felt strongly about Kangarootime’s purpose, finding their way into the company through their passion and work ethic. “As CEO, my job is making sure everyone has what they need.”

As the company looks to rapidly grow, it’s clear they will be doing so with a home base firmly grounded in Long Beach, due to Wayman’s wife’s strong LBC ties.

“My father-in-law was like ‘you can live anywhere in the world, as long as it’s in Long Beach,’” said Wayman who said the cost of doing business in Long Beach was a boon, compared to Silicon Valley. “A dollar will go further outside of Silicon Valley.”

However, he said the mentorship and funding opportunities up north are unparalleled. Still, he thinks Long Beach has untapped startup potential.

“I think there’s a lot of potential in Long Beach. Places outside of Silicon Valley, like Buffalo, Boulder and Austin started these accelerators. It can be done,” said Wayman. “And being on the beach, in an urban setting, with the scale and density…it can be done.”

Above, left: Scott Wayman, courtesy of Wayman. 



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