Last week we shared an exciting announcement that HiMama received a major new investment, supporting our mission to empower early childhood educators and parents with tools to improve educational outcomes for children ages zero to five.
Founded in 2013 by CEO Ron Spreeuwenberg and CTO Alana Frome, HiMama from the beginning was designed to make childcare work better for educators and parents. For HiMama’s leaders, the new social impact funding offers an opportunity to deepen the company’s commitment to this vision and invest in powerful, new ways to support educators — at a more critical time than ever for early childhood education.
We sat down with Alana and Ron to understand what a multi-million dollar investment means for the company and for the early childhood educators HiMama exists to elevate, plus what customers can expect from HiMama in 2022.
What inspired you to initially launch HiMama in 2013?
Alana: When Ron and I first met, we both immediately had that ‘aha’ moment when we started talking about social enterprise. We knew we wanted to start a company that made a difference, and we were both immediately drawn to early childhood education because of the massive socio-economic impact it has when educators and parents are properly supported.
Our initial inspiration really came from working with early childhood educators to understand the lack of resourcing and empathy that they live with on a daily basis. Early childhood educators are totally overlooked and underappreciated, even though what they do is crucial to the future of our society.
We launched HiMama in 2013 with the goal of giving early childhood educators affordable tools that would empower them to improve developmental outcomes for the children they work with and educate parents about the importance of their work.
Raising money for the company isn’t something that just happens by itself. As the CEO, you have to decide when it’s the right time to seek out new investment.
What motivated you to do it now?
Ron: Investing in child care has never been more urgent or important for society. It has become a major theme of the national policy conversation in the US and Canada in the last year, which is an amazing development, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are other meaningful ways that we can be investing in educators and in our children.
The experience of the pandemic over the last twenty months really showed us that early childhood education programs are critical to the health and well-being of children and their families, as well as to the economy. And yet, running these programs and working with children has never been more challenging than it is right now.
Children need opportunities to be in environments where their social and emotional development can flourish, having to adapt through so much change. Staffing shortages and increased health regulations mean that educators are working more hours than ever with little extra reward or appreciation for their crucial, professional work.
On top of all that, in many places, parents still cannot enter child care centers, which means that educators have to do more than ever to get parents involved and to make sure their work is valued and understood.
These are all problems that HiMama is in a unique position to help solve with our technology and resources for educators. With additional funding, we can accelerate our support for early childhood educators, parents, and child care programs that are all striving to support our youngest children. By investing more in our technology and our people today, we’re committing to delivering more impactful and accessible tools for educators and parents.
Who did you raise the money from and what were you looking for in an investor?
Ron: The funding was led by Bain Capital Double Impact— Bain’s social impact investment fund. When we were looking for an investor, we really wanted to bring someone in who aligned with our vision to become the leading provider for software and content for early childhood educators, while understanding our roots as a mission-driven company. Our social purpose is at the heart of everything we do. Bain Capital Double Impact was absolutely the perfect partner because we are aligned in our belief in social impact at scale for these very reasons.
How will HiMama be using the new funding? What can HiMama customers and users expect to see in terms of the outcome?
Alana: I’m still shocked by how much we’ve already grown looking back from where we started, but there’s so much more we can do, and I’m really excited for what’s ahead.
We’ll definitely be making improvements to our childcare app and investing in new functionality that makes it easier to manage both childcare centers as a whole, and individual classrooms. Administrators and educators have too much on their plates, and there are lots of ways we can improve our app to make their lives easier.
Even more exciting is a few projects in the pipeline that will allow us to support classroom educators in new ways, and provide tools for the administrators who want to help them grow in their careers. In the coming year, expect to see a major focus on content and tools for learning and development — both for children and for educators themselves. We’ll share more details as soon as we can.
Ron: When I look at our development plans in the next year, I see a common thread across so many of the updates and new capabilities we have coming, and it really inspires me. From a lot of different angles, we’re working on things that are intended to empower educators to improve the quality of programs, from tech tools to curriculum to training resources. Our ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for children, but I hope our approach illustrates our passion and appreciation for the very important work of early childhood educators.