May 29, 2019

Winners of fast pitch competition launch website linking parents to child care

Haskayne students start Carefind.ca in entrepreneurial class; service now online

Kathy Bui, above, left, and Erica Hughes, above, right, were in their second year at the Haskayne School of Business, working toward their accounting degrees, when they met in the Entrepreneurial Thinking 317 class. “Initially, I just wanted to get my accounting degree and start my career,” says Bui. “I thought the main focus of the class was how to write a business plan, alongside theory,” says Hughes.

But they learned much more than theory.

They won the 2017 RBC Fast Pitch Competition for their idea to connect parents to child care providers with a website. About two years after winning the competition and $50,000 of in-kind professional business services, Carefind.ca went live March 1. “It wasn’t until the competition when I realized I could be an entrepreneur,” says Bui. “We are extremely happy to work with parents and child care providers in creating what they believe is of value to them.”

So far, Carefind.ca has more than 200 accredited and licensed child care options from child care centres, preschools, out-of-school care programs and approved day homes in the Calgary area. It’s a free service for parents that allows them to browse the options that suit their needs. It’s a much easier way to find child care than having to call around to individual providers and look at multiple websites. “It can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process,” says Hughes, the mother of five-year-old twin boys.

She came up with the idea of Carefind.ca after having to find daycare when her twins were babies and her family had just moved back home to Calgary. “I called around to numerous daycares, only to get voicemail, wait for a call back, or pay to be on a waitlist,” she says. “Having a central platform for child care helps parents find real-time openings, images, information about child care provider’s programs and services and more.”

Carefind.ca also links to the province’s child care subsidy application and provides information about social and cognitive child development provided by the Ch.I.L.D Research Group. The two, who expect to graduate in 2021, are already thinking about the next stage of the business. “We have ideas about what we want to add to the website,” says Bui. “We’re both passionate about helping families and child care providers as it fuels us to continue to build CareFind.ca as a valuable resource.”

Since the Entrepreneurial Thinking class, the two have put in endless hours of work on the website. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into starting up a business,” says Bui. But it’s all been worth it. “Each day is unique. One day may be networking, establishing relationships and attending trade shows, while other days focusing on marketing, advertising and sales,” says Hughes. “You’re always adapting, learning and strengthening skills that you never knew you had.”