Sophie Blythe from tech start-up Koala & Joe on how she co-founded a one-stop shop for parenting experts.
Parenting isn’t easy, but it can be hard to know where to turn for help. That’s where Koala & Joe comes in. Sophie Blythe speaks about how she co-founded the tech start-up dedicated to putting trusted experts from various different fields in touch with parents.
A: It’s a new nationwide online marketplace dedicated to connecting parents and carers with the best, most trusted experts in all areas of their children’s care.
From doulas to dieticians, massage to mental health, we enable parents and carers to find local and online experts all in one place, read reviews from other parents and book appointments directly at a convenient time.
Parenting is a demanding job and it has never been more so than in the past two years. With up to 80% of parents reporting feelings of being overwhelmed post-pandemic, there is a clear deficit in support available to the eight million families with dependents in the UK.
Whether it’s a newborn struggling to latch, a toddler yet to start walking, or an anxiety-riddled teen, parents and carers are constantly faced with challenges that require external support.
With the NHS overburdened and under-resourced, experts offering their services to parents privately are the solution – but until now this army of independent helpers have not been mobilised in an accessible, effective way. In the digital era, parents are woefully underserved by technology with no ‘go to’, reliable source to find expert help when in need.
A: We are a founding team of six – three working mums and three working dads – and we created the business in direct response to our individual and shared struggles engaging experts for our children.
Developing Koala & Joe alongside our busy jobs, young families and the global pandemic has been challenging but rewarding. When we came up with the idea two years ago, there was nothing else like it. Marketplaces existed for products (think Etsy, Airbnb) and some services (e.g. Treatwell, MyBuilder), but nothing serving parents and supporting the thousands of self-employed experts trying to reach parents in need.
We have spent two years building the tech and curating a pool of the very best experts across 15 specialisms from Maternity Nurses to Hypnobirthing Instructors, Lactation Consultants to Paediatric Physiotherapists.
A: An interesting fact that came up repeatedly in our research with the professional associations for these specialisms was that it is often the fathers that end up making the calls for help.
In a market dominated by “mummy brands”, it was important for us that Koala & Joe appealed to parents of all genders. We put a lot of time and thought into developing a brand that represents the many different identities, shapes and sizes of modern-day families with a core of humorous empathy running throughout that would strike a chord with mums and dads alike.
As of this month we are now live and taking bookings and it feels immensely satisfying to know that we are already helping parents and carers across the country to get the expert help they need, when they need it. We look forward to a future where all parents, carers and kids are supported and empowered to live their happiest, healthiest lives.
To find out more about Koala & Joe or to book an appointment follow @koalaandjoe.