Bringing child development activities together in one place

workingmums.co.uk talks to Lance Beare, CEO of Pebble, a new childcare and child activities booking platform for parents.

children in care

Cute girls sitting on floor while kindergarten teacher reading book to other children indoors

What if you could book emergency childcare or an after-school dance session all in one place and didn’t have to spend hours searching on Google or ringing around or rely on word of mouth? A new booking management website allows parents to do just that.

Led by serial entrepreneur Lance Beare who has spent 15 years starting up and selling disruptive tech companies, mainly in the finance and property sectors, Pebble was set up in 2021 after Lance was headhunted to lead a site which facilitates parents being able to manage all their childcare and child development needs in one place. Lance thought there must surely already be something similar and was surprised not to find anything that brings everything together – the ‘missing link’ that makes life easier for parents.

When it comes to ad hoc care, Pebble’s sales team works with childcare providers to give parents live information about spare nursery places they can book. These may be places where nurseries have capacity, for instance, there may be fewer children attending on Mondays and Fridays freeing up additional spaces. The system makes it easy for parents to book flexible childcare, for example, if they are freelancers or are called into the office for a meeting, and provides extra revenue for nurseries with spare capacity. Nurseries can easily add additional hours if they become available, enabling parents to start work earlier or work later. Parents who are registered on the site have been able to book an afternoon slot the morning they need it. Ratio issues are all taken care of by providers. Parents do not, however, need to be registered to benefit from ad hoc childcare.

Pebble only works with good or outstanding nurseries as well as nannies and childminders.

Lance says: “In the past providers had set patterns of childcare they required parents to book into. Shift working and hybrid working after Covid has created less rigid working patterns and nurseries and childminders are looking to adapt. We have recognised that.”

He adds that many parents end up using a particular nursery on a regular basis so their child gets to know it. “We don’t want children being put in different nurseries five days a week as this could affect their development,” says Lance. Pebble also has a number of security protocols.

Childcare activities

The childcare activities marketplace is designed to be as simple as possible, offering activity providers, for instance, of half term sessions, a way to be found easily by parents. There is no set age limit for activities, but the platform currently mainly covers early years and primary school age activities.

Pebble launched its original ad hoc care platform in August 2021, followed by its activities marketplace which fully launched last September. The ad hoc childcare for non-registered parents launched this February. Lance says the child activities marketplace only operates in Greater London currently, but it is looking at other locations.  

There is a lot of interest in the website from potential investors. So far it has three institutional  investors, including the Boston Consulting Group and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, whose funding has allowed it to grow very quickly in the London area.  Lance says there are also plans to collaborate with leading employers.

To date Pebble has been used by 30,000 parents and registration is growing strongly month on month, says Lance. “We are very excited. There are very strong signals that we have created a really strong product that services both supply and demand. We are a marketplace and we are looking to integrate different childcare activities to drive more demand to suppliers. That is our utopia.”



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