How One Female-Founded Company Is On A Mission To Revolutionize Child Care

By Jennifer "Jay" Palumbo, Contributor
Brella is a new model of app-enabled child care center that offers full-time, flexible, and on-demand infant care and preschool, along with parent education classes and family events. Brandon Shigeta

Brella, an on-demand, app-enabled child care model designed with families' needs in mind, announced the news of its $5 million series seed round earlier this week. Brella is on a mission to reinvent the child care industry by challenging the status quo and offering high-quality, flexible full-service care to meet the dynamic demands of modern life. This funding round, led by Toba Capital and Halogen Ventures, brings the company's total budget to $8 million to date.

Brella is a new model of app-enabled child care center that offers full-time, flexible, and on-demand infant care and preschool, along with parent education classes and family events. Brella's flexible model, innovative curriculum, and beautifully designed environments create a new industry paradigm. Brella launched in Playa Vista in 2019 and, after closing a Series Seed fundraise this year, is expanding to multiple sites across Los Angeles.

Brella's latest investors join the fast-growing brand on its mission to reimagine the paradigm of child care in America by offering a family-first, customizable option designed to give families a flexible support system, or as Brella calls it, "their village."

The Brella Platform Aims To Address All Needs

Brella's latest investors join the fast-growing brand on its mission to reimagine the paradigm of child care in America by offering a family-first, customizable option designed to give families a flexible support system, or as Brella calls it, "their village." Emily Young

Brella's platform was created on the ethos of flexibility. After Brella co-founders Darien Williams and Melanie Wolff experienced the child care system first-hand with their kids, they quickly realized that the format of present-day services wasn't aimed at servicing the whole family's needs. Today's childcare caters to a traditional, and often unrealistic, 9-5 work schedule and service model that seems as if they were designed to set parents up for failure. Williams and Wolff created Brella to cater to the next generation of working parents.

"Our vision is to transform child care from a paint point to a culture of support and to alleviate the common feeling among young families that they are set up to fail," said Darien Williams, cofounder and co-CEO of Brella. "We're also dedicated to creating a more valued career path for early educators. For child care to work, it has to truly serve all three of its constituents - children, parents, and educators."

When asked if they offer any support for parents of those with special needs, Williams responded, "We have many children with special needs at Brella, and our goal is to provide them and their families with an inclusive and developmentally-appropriate experience."

Wolff and Williams described their centers as thoughtfully designed to provide age-appropriate sensory experiences, spaces, and materials for all children. "Compared to traditional centers, whose environments are often over-stimulating and challenging for children on the spectrum to process, we designed our color palette, materials, and sequences of rooms to promote calm and focused engagement across all areas of development," Williams said. "For many families, we can adjust our care and curriculum to support the child's individual needs. If we cannot do this by ourselves, we also proactively work with the family to further provide additional community resources to support the child at Brella. We believe that all families deserve access to high-quality care, and we aspire to make our programs even more inclusive."

Supporting Parents Before, During, and After The Pandemic

Brella's business model hopes to offer families a solution to balancing child care and the realities of being a busy parent. Brella's plans are 100% flexible to account for whatever type of childcare is needed, from full-time care to last-minute needs and everything in between. Emily Young

Brella's business model hopes to offer families a solution to balancing child care and the realities of being a busy parent. Brella's plans are 100% flexible to account for whatever type of childcare is needed, from full-time care to last-minute needs and everything in between. Parents can pick between three different plans with varying levels of commitment. Then, they can use the innovative, newly relaunched Brella App to determine their child's schedule, day to day, week by week — giving families the flexibility that isn't available in any other child care service in the area.

"Brella brings child care online with a custom app that gives parents complete control over their child care schedules, accounts, and payments," said Melanie Wolff, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Brella. "Parents now have a high-quality child care and education option that truly responds to their individual family's needs."

As Wolff explained, Brella was created in response to an industry that was already in crisis before the pandemic. "The pandemic merely exacerbated the problems in child care and early education that had already existed for many families- namely lack of supply, lack of flexibility, and lack of support," Wolff shared. "The pandemic has unfortunately exposed how unfriendly and unsupportive the world can be for young families. Brella is designed to change that by creating a place of 'yes' for families, where care is flexible, easy to book, and easily modified to their needs. Now, as families navigate a world of variable schedules, shifting between working from the office and working from home, and even more frequent changes in work status, Brella provides a responsive solution. Brella's continued success through the pandemic- our center remained open and profitable throughout- shows that this new model of care meets today's family's needs."

Future Goals of Brella

This new funding round will further support Brella's mission by allowing the company to expand its offerings with recent locations, continue to develop its proprietary technology. Emily Young

This new funding round will further support Brella's mission by allowing the company to expand its offerings with recent locations, continue to develop its proprietary technology. In addition, these exceptional teachers are paid nearly twice as much as the industry average and provide advancements in the often-ignored child care industry by curating Brella's service to the ever-changing needs of every family.

As for future goals, they want to create a more supportive world for families.

"This year, we will open several new locations as part of our goal to provide an integrated network of centers for families," said Wolff. "We will continue to develop technology that simplifies the enrollment and scheduling process and connects families to their children's educational experience. We are also building partnerships with companies seeking to provide meaningful benefits for working parents- a vulnerable population within the workforce. Brella will be there to support families through the early years of childhood and provide a new experience for families that sets them up for success."


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