Taking to heart the advice, “Create a product that people need,” Dinali de Silva and Jordan Kong founded Caribou last year to provide “reliable childcare.” Says de Silva, “Childcare in America is a fragmented and broken system. The current options are either too expensive for the average family or don’t offer the one-to-one attention that young kids need. At Caribou, we believe you shouldn’t have to choose between personalized childcare from a nanny and the social benefits from a daycare center. With Caribou, your child gets a new friend to play with and you can be rest assured that your child is being cared for by a mother in your community.”
Caribou matches stay-at-home moms looking to provide care with families looking for childcare. “Our care providers go through a rigorous onboarding process which includes an interview with a Caribou team member, ID verification and background check,” de Silva explains. “As a care seeker, once you’ve registered, you’re able to scroll through care providers that are pre-vetted and matched based on your preferences.”
Recognizing that childcare is a very high-consideration service and establishing trust with care seekers and care providers as a new company in this space can be a challenge, the Caribou team spent a lot of one-on-one time from the get-go in talking and working with the care providers and care seekers to ensure the process was going smoothly and working together to create the most seamless experience. “Over time, as we’ve been able to grow in the Greater Phoenix area, partnering with amazing local organizations and working with the community, we’ve been able to build trust in the space.”
Inspiration for the business arose from the pandemic, as one of the co-founders expressed her feeling of being overwhelmed trying to get tasks done with constant interruptions from her little one; feeling stretched in too many directions and guilty for not being able to give 100% to any of them; and not getting enough relaxation time, sleep or support.
“We started Caribou to be that support, a lifeline in a sea of uncertainty and isolation,” says de Silva. “But our mission is more than just to provide high-quality childcare that’s easy to set up, flexible and actually affordable. It’s to create a community! Because we know that no matter what the world throws at us, families are anchors. And when those anchors join forces, no parent or child ever needs to feel alone and adrift again.”