A pay-as-you-go nursery with integrated work space for parents is rewarding crowdfunding investors with free childcare.
Cuckooz Nest, co-founded by mum Charlie Rosier and her business partner Fabienne O’Neill, has already raised more than half (£52,361) of its £100,000 target through its first crowdfunding round, which launched on Friday.
O’Neill told Good With Money: “We are overwhelmed by the huge support we’ve had. Most of the investment has come from our community and our members. We decided on the crowdfund because we wanted to empower our members and facilitate them becoming an integral part of our business growth.”
Cuckooz Nest is an Ofsted-registered creche for children aged two and under, with an adjoining, open-plan workspace. Since first opening in London’s Clerkenwell almost a year ago, the business has helped more than 100 families to achieve a better work-life balance.
The idea was born out of the desperate need for affordable and flexible childcare for working parents, particularly mothers, in the UK. O’Neill said: “Businesses of all sizes are losing amazing, talented women. Statistics show that the number of females in senior leadership positions is dwindling and the gender pay gap is growing. Our business can help to ease a woman’s return to work after having a baby. Having access to flexible, integrated workspace and childcare can also help to increase the (currently very slow) uptake of shared parental leave.”
“Advances in tech have made it more possible to work at home, but working parents and freelancers can feel isolated.”
With the rapid growth in the number of people working remotely, O’Neill said Cuckooz Nest provides an opportunity for freelancers to work in a space that is “sociable and guilt-free”. She said: “Advances in tech have made it more possible to work at home, but working parents and freelancers can feel isolated.”
The duo plans to use the funding injection to open a second, larger site in the capital that will be able to take children up to the age of five. Minimum investment is just £10 – and the big pull is that anyone investing upwards of £2,000 will be offered free childcare hours.
The amount of free childcare on offer per investment:
|£2,000||10 hours free childcare plus workspace
|£5,000||15 hours free childcare plus workspace
|£10,000||40 hours free childcare plus workspace; AND free weekend nursery hire
|£25,000++||50 hours free childcare plus workspace; AND free weekend nursery hire AND free event space hire (weekday)|
Rosier and O’Neill met 10 years ago when Rosier was a land buyer for a residential developer and O’Neill was working in marketing and events for a publishing company. “We started to meet socially and the rest is history,” says O’Neill. “We’ve been best friends ever since.”
The duo’s first enterprise, launched in 2017, was a serviced apartment concept called Cuckooz. It now has eight sites across London. Soon after launching the business, Rosier had her first child, prompting her to come up with the Cuckooz Nest concept.
O’Neill said: “Once Charlie had her daughter, it became very apparent how challenging it was for her to balance work and life and find an affordable childcare solution (especially as she returned to work after just 6 weeks!). This is where Cuckooz Nest really came to life, responding to the very real need that parents face when trying to juggle childcare, business and a career.”
This is a need that is present not just in London but across the country. We’re exploring our options at the moment.”
The current site offers a fully equipped kitchen, private phone booths, events space, showers, bike storage and fibre optic Wifi. There’s even a sleep pod for tired parents in need of a nap! As well as your child, you are welcome to bring your pet to work. The creche employs only Ofsted-registered nannies and the design allows parents to be close enough to breastfeed their children or read them a story – but there are separate entrances to the creche and workspace, so the children don’t need to know their parent is just next door.
Rosier and O’Neill have big plans for the expansion of their business. “We are planning to have four sites across London by 2022,” says O’Neill. They are also speaking to a number of landlords who are keen to get into mixed use sites, and are considering franchising to expand the business to other parts of the UK. O’Neill said: “That’s the longer term plan. This is a need that is present not just in London but across the country. We’re exploring our options at the moment.”
If an investor does not need the childcare or workspace, they can gift it to a friend. If it is not needed, Cuckooz Nest will use the free hours to subsidise a woman in need by working with charity you-make-it.org. If a company invests, the reward can be split between employees.
O’Neill said they run the business as ethically as possible. She said: “Cleaners use only eco-friendly products, which are also safer for the children, and we have a recycling scheme to keep the amount of waste to an absolute minimum. We also ask parents to only bring more eco-friendly nappies to the site.”