Babbu: Edtech remains a booming sector, with recent figures suggesting the industry is set to grow to 397 billion euros by 2030. Technology has become the ultimate tool for learning and play and, today is being used to support communication, language, literacy and more. This is achieved through endless apps, ebooks and even video calling.
According to healthychildren.org, there are currently around 80,000 apps online which promote themselves as educational. In addition, The National Institute of Health figures show over 50% of the available educational apps target preschool children.
With such a growing appetite for technology to assist teachers and parents in their quest to help develop their children’s core skills, we spoke to Charlie Rosier, Co-founder of Babbu. Babbu is an online nursery for preschool children, enabling them to learn and, in some cases, fast-track their skills.
Where did the concept of Babbu come from?
Back in 2017, when I became a mother for the first time, I experienced firsthand the issues of affordability, quality and flexibility in our UK childcare system. In Britain, we have one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, combined with the current cost of living crisis. New research from the Working Families charity shows that 65% of under-fives parents say childcare has become a huge financial strain, with more and more families reducing the number of days their children are in childcare, prioritising mortgage payments and food.
Over the last six years, I have become obsessed with the system’s inequalities, often seeing many children and families locked out of high-quality, early-year education. Babbu was born during the pandemic, and as global education moved online, I realised we could make learning easy, accessible and fun by delivering it digitally. This was so that all children would be given the best start in life and every family would have the chance to thrive.
What makes Babbu different from other parenting apps?
Babbu is not just any parenting app; we are the world’s first Montessori-endorsed platform recognised for our exceptional early years’ content. Plus, we have been approved by Orcha Health for the NHS and more recently awarded the PIF Tick – the UK’s only assessed quality mark for print and online health and care information. We aim to be your wing-parent, a single source of truth in the first five years of parenting.
What are your main challenges as a female founder (and parent)?
I think the main problem, as both a female founder and parent, is sadly bias – either unconscious or conscious – from investors. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that Venture Capital is a man’s game, and I would well believe it! Women are massively under-represented among venture-backed entrepreneurs and VC investors, with companies founded solely by women receiving less than 3% of all venture capital investments.
Despite statistics showing that female founders and CEOs run more effective, profitable businesses, a mindset says women can’t run companies. Another fact is that being a parent or becoming a parent, will distract you as a founder and ultimately mean you cannot commit sufficient time and energy to the business. I hate the idea that my gender can come into the equation when people are deciding whether or not the business will thrive. In my opinion, being a mother gives me a unique insight into our customers’ problems, and, arguably, there isn’t anyone better to run our business!
What advice would you give to other females looking to take the leap into establishing a tech startup?
Just do it! I have started and grown several businesses and know what it takes as a founder. In my opinion, if you are committed to solving the problem, then you can and will learn what is required to succeed. Don’t let your self-doubts or ‘imposter syndrome’ get in the way; don’t let anyone stop you from believing in yourself. You will get many “nos” along the way, it will challenge you, and you will think of very little else all day (and night), but ultimately, there is nothing more rewarding or anything that can bring you more joy! (and I say that as a mother).
What are your ambitions for Babbu/Where would you like to see the company in five years?
We are a small team with big ambitions. We want to revolutionise parenting in the first five years and completely disrupt the education system. Babbu allows anyone to ‘run a nursery from home’; as I mentioned, I believe our childcare/early years system is broken. It’s not only unaffordable to most, but there are long-standing issues around funding, availability of spaces and lack of staff. I believe that we will not fix the problem fast enough. We need to work on alternative ways to increase the amount of ‘informal childcare available’ (i.e. au pairs, grandparents, nannies, etc.) and upskill these individuals to deliver nursery-quality education without the hefty price tag. We want Babbu to be the global standard for early years education. This platform supports the educational needs of every child under five and gives every family the support they so desperately need.
I read that you got rejected on The Apprentice; what advice would you have for founders who get turned down for investment?
That was a long time ago when The ApprenticeThes was about being Sir Alan’s apprentice and not an investment. I have been fascinated with business for as long as I can remember, and I loved the challenges on the show – Sir Alan was probably one of my adolescent ‘heroes’! When I didn’t make it through the casting process, I wrote Sir Alan a letter, telling him what a mistake his production team had made! That probably means a lot about how I react to investors when they reject my ideas. However, rather than waste my time now writing letters telling them what a huge error they have made, I quietly add to them a list of ‘people I need to prove wrong!’ and move on. I think rejection is just part of life, and it’s no different in business.
Do you plan to add any new features?
Yes, however, we are only just getting started! We want to become more user-led in everything we do. As a result, we are currently doing some qualitative and quantitative research and speaking to as many of our users as possible. This all has to happen before launching any new features! However, some of the things we are looking at include community, AI, integrations, gamification, etc…watch this space!
And finally, what’s next for you?
I plan to be on this mission for 5-10 years, so ‘what’s next’ is more of the same! I’m really excited about the next stage of growth for Babbu. I am looking forward to many upcoming partnerships and am excited to grow the team while reaching and supporting even more families. I have learned more in the last two years than in the last decade of entrepreneurship. I am also very grateful to those around me who support me as a founder and are helping guide me on my journey. I firmly believe in being a lifelong learner, so hopefully, more growth, learning and time spent enjoying what I do!