Investing in the Village

It takes a village to raise a child…

Relatively new parents with fresh memories will identify closely with this proverb — quite literally. It’s all new, you don’t know what you’re doing, there is a great deal of responsibility & it can be overwhelming. (For anyone expecting a child, it is all sunshine & roses, nevermind me 😄) So you try to get the village on your side. Your parents & friends come first & foremost naturally. Then, especially for working parents, finding a good daycare / pre-school / kindergarten comes second as a topic of paramount importance.

Defne @ Atölye at age 3.5

How do I know this? I’ve gone through this experience with my now 7-year old daughter. As working parents, we had to find a good pre-school in our neighborhood for her where she would be safe, could socialize with other children & get a quality pre-primary education. Luckily, we were able to find Atölye, a nice, reputable boutique pre-school.

Nonparents typically think that pre-school is just a place where parents drop off their kids as they go to work. Although this clearly is vital, pre-school is much more than that. 95% of brain development happens in the first 5 years of one’s life, so finding quality education early on matters a lot. And not everyone is so fortunate — worldwide, 78% of children are missing out on quality pre-primary education. This failure limits their futures and deepens inequities. One of the reasons for this is that there is a big gap in childcare jobs globally & educators are not paid well. So parents struggle to find quality programs at affordable prices.

Among working parents, starting a pre-school to have a business while spending more time with your children is a common chitchat topic. Ayşegül, the owner at our daughter’s pre-school actually did this: She took over Atölye as she was trying to find a good pre-school for her own kid. She wanted to spend more time with her and make sure that she got a good education, which prompted her to leave a senior position at the technology arm of a leading bank in Turkey. Taking over an existing pre-school made things easier for her as necessities like licensing, curriculum, website, and payments were already in place. When I recently talked to her about this endeavor, she told me that it would have been nearly impossible to start things from scratch.

This is where the Village comes in. The Village is a SaaS-enabled EdTech marketplace with an end-to-end solution to set up, run & fill in your micro-school. The platform enables parents who want to start pre-schools to do so quickly & easily, while leveraging the Village brand and marketplace to get to revenue faster.

The Village Network

Through the platform, aspiring educators can

  • take care of administrative tasks including legal, insurance, payroll, tuition payments & licensing,
  • set up their websites & receive their marketing documents,
  • find & match with parents looking for pre-school options through the Village marketplace,
  • get access to a top-quality curriculum overseen by Harvard affiliates,
  • use a mobile app that enables parent-teacher/operator communications & child monitoring and acts as a CRM, and
  • tap into a global community of like-minded parents & teachers-turned-operators.

As a result, the Village enables parents & teachers — the people who care the most & might have otherwise shied away from establishing their own micro-schools — to become business-owners, while facilitating them to spend more time with their children in the process. More importantly, the Village provides an excellent pre-primary education opportunity to children who are missing out on quality education, at ages where it matters the most.

Agnieszka & Aleksandra, co-founders at the Village Network

Aleksandra, co-founder & CEO at the Village, is the perfect fit for this task. She has a Master of Education from Harvard, was the founder of an education agency in Poland that she successfully exited and has two children ages 4 & 1. Her first child was born as she was finishing her MBE (Mind, Brain & Education) degree at Harvard, which encouraged her to start the Village. She has the perfect mix of business acumen, education expertise & personal experience to lead an EdTech business. And she has the numbers to show for it — the Village now has more than 60 villages & 1,500 children in the Village network after a only few months.

That’s why we’re thrilled to invest in their seed with our good friends Credo Ventures & to be a part of their journey. Welcome to the #500Family =)

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Arın Özkula

Arın Özkula

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GP @ 500 Istanbul (istanbul.500.co), an early-stage fund investing across Turkey & CEE