Helene Mayer said in May last year that she noticed that the period of home-based childcare was longer than originally expected. The Edtech company “Forward F1rst,” which she launched in Boston, was forced to shut down two months earlier. Around that time, the nursery school for her 16-month-old twin brothers was closed, forcing her to take care of her at home.
She then started job hunting but abandoned becoming an office worker as the pandemic became more protracted.
Mayer is not the only woman in this situation. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the closure of schools and childcare facilities forced more than two million women across the United States to leave their jobs to raise children. Mayer began investigating childcare trends and methods after seeing other women post about similar circumstances in an online childcare group. And when they posted a questionnaire about improvement measures to those groups in July last year, they received more than 2000 responses in less than a week.
Based on the results, she began mediating services for home-based mothers to take care of other children for free. Mayer then learned that moms engaged in home-based childcare enjoyed their work and decided to build a system in which they could be rewarded.
Mayer launched Otter last fall, providing childcare services to 7,000 households and rewarding parents for a total of $ 20 million.
Otter recently raised $ 23 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital. Andreessen Horowitz, Abstract Ventures, and Thrive Capital also participated in the round. Andreessen Horowitz led the seed round, where Otter raised $ 4.8 million.
According to Mayer, the funds raised this time will be used to expand the Trust and Safety team and solidify the internal foundation in preparation for business expansion. “Our goal is to make people aware that Otter is a company that provides safe and reliable childcare. Let parents understand what we are doing and provide services with peace of mind. I want it to be available, “says Mayer.
Providing Childcare Services Inexpensively And Flexibly
She recently made Steven Siger, Chief Operating Officer and CLO of the Legal Department at the domestic services platform Thumbtack, one of AirB & B’s early employees. Hired Dave Wilern to the Trust and Safety team.
On Otter’s platform, parents and caregivers each complete a questionnaire about childcare styles, approaches, and schedules. When matching occurs, a background check of the caregiver is performed. After that, the parents and the childcare staff communicate directly, and when both are satisfied, a business negotiation is concluded.
According to Mayer, parents are highly regarded by both because they can feel closer to their caregivers and they can get paid for their regular childcare. Otter has services in Chicago and New York, but it’s popular and is currently waiting in line. The company plans to expand into other regions in the near future.
While the focus is on childcare issues in Corona, the problems faced by working parents have not been resolved for a long time. Sequoia partner Jess Lee, who led this series A round, believes Otter will make childcare services more accessible and will continue to be used long after the pandemic has converged.
Nursery and babysitter services are inflexible, according to Lee, but Otter can meet those needs. “Otter can make childcare services cheaper and more flexible. With the cries of a shortage of childcare workers, we can solve the problem with the help of parents who are working at home.” Lee said.