Connect Childcare unveils software growth plans and new chairman following £4m investment
Connect Childcare has secured a £4 million investment from Mobeus Equity Partners to roll out a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, launch a new streamlined payment offering, accelerate functionality for existing users, and strengthen its sales, marketing and customer success teams.
The funding assistance also sees the Lancashire-based childcare management software specialist – which supports 14 of the top 25 UK nursery chains, nurseries and pre-schools – welcome experienced leader Bill McCall as its new chairman, with Ashvin Pathak stepping down after nine years in the post.
Directing more than 60 companies throughout his investment banker career, Bill has chaired three successive childcare groups – Careshare, Asquith Nurseries and Giraffe – and is principal of strategic corporate finance advisory business McCall and Partners.
He will play a pivotal role alongside the 56-strong team at Connect Childcare to streamline complex and time-consuming admin processes for its 3,000-plus nursery and childminder settings, enabling practitioners to focus more on child development.
What’s in store for early 2021?
A key driver of achieving this goal will be the launch of a new SaaS platform called ‘foundations’ in the first quarter of 2021. The planned launch will target smaller childcare providers initially, as the business continues to accelerate the development of enterprise-level functionality over the course of 2021. The solution has been developed from the ground up to help Early Years (EY) employees decrease their paperwork and log child events – such as meals and sleep – more easily.
This comes on the back of a testy 2020
Despite a challenging 2020 for the EY sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Connect Childcare has continued to provide ongoing support to its customers – including financial assistance, the streamlining of parent processes, and launching both home-schooling app ParentHub and nursery-focused admin platform, StaffPlan.
Commenting on the turbulence experienced throughout the industry, Chris Reid CEO of Connect Childcare, said: “It was a tough year for everyone as we all faced so much uncertainty. We too were forced to make difficult decisions, with limited information, and we had to be resilient.
“Some of our innovations in 2020 have proved to be vital in how customers have been able to tackle further unpredictability this year. By focusing on the areas that would deliver to customer needs in real-time – and adding value to our existing platforms – we’re on the front foot for 2021.”
Secured a future ripe for innovation
Having already hired a manager to lead its growing customer success team – and with plans to increase the Connect workforce to around 70 employees by the end of the financial year – Chris believes the investment has come at the perfect time.
“This funding gives us both security for our customers – because it shows we’re here for them and will be continuing to innovate and enhance their platforms – and also for our staff. We know we can deliver our plans,” he said.
On the upcoming launch of foundations, Chris added: “Helping our existing customers and showing our commitment to them is of paramount importance. We must continue to understand their pain-points and challenges, and accelerate the next generation of products to provide a ‘platform of the future’ – foundations is exactly that.”
Keeping clients at the forefront of each development
Rowan Grobler, investment manager for Mobeus and who will be joining Connect Childcare’s board, said: “I’m excited to be backing such a high-quality team that has demonstrated both a long-term, customer-focused strategy as well as agility and focus during the pandemic.
“This is a fantastic time to be investing in Connect. The business has a well-established, market-leading position and is now seeking to capitalise on that by commercialising and rolling out new generation solutions to its committed client base and beyond.”
The investment follows further good news for Connect, having recently renewed its contract with the Busy Bees nursery group for another three years. Connect successfully deployed its software across an additional 170 of the UK’s leading childcare provider’s sites – in under eight weeks – at the end of 2020.
Simon Irons, Global CEO for Busy Bees, concluded: “Our partnership with Connect is a vital part of how we continue to help our settings to operate more efficiently and facilitate better engagement with our parents. The team is always on hand to help with any queries and goes above and beyond to ensure our customers are equipped with high-quality solutions.”