As a working parent, Sara Schaer knows a thing or two about staying agile as her children go back to school.
Schaer, the founder of “daycare on wheels” service Kango, first conceived of the business idea when she found herself seeking a solution to a problem many parents face: finding a way to manage family schedules while maintaining a full-time job and keeping her kids safe. Kango was born of this thought and launched as an afterschool rideshare service, offering transportation home from school with the add-on of childcare when needed. With schools now in uncharted territory and most jobs sending staff to the home office, Kango has had an opportunity to explore different areas of service for the modern parent — and they’ve seized the moment with enthusiasm.
Kango is Schaer’s third startup, and after so much time in the entrepreneurial space, she is more prepared than many business owners for the challenges and curveballs of the year. While no one could have predicted the amount of disruption that would result from the pandemic, Kango has risen to the occasion. A key point in their pivot over the last few months is the company’s intentional way of prioritizing what parents really need. According to a survey from Maven, two-thirds of parents are feeling anxious as they navigate childcare options heading into the fall. Safety is always the top priority when it comes to childcare, but the stakes feel that much higher in 2020.
Recognizing that children were home this summer with the absence of camps and day programs, Kango’s first pivot was to utilize its existing force of trained drivers for delivery orders. As a niche service, Kango was also able to be competitively agile in its offerings. Other industry giants like Uber (partnering with Postmates), Instacart, or Amazon don’t have the ability to swing by a local pharmacy for essentials or pick up orders from the coveted Trader Joe’s. Staying nimble, Kango was able to use its drivers to the fullest. “As an essential service, Kango was not shut down,” Schaer recently shared in an interview with Forbes.
Once again, with summer plans rendered unlikely, Schaer and her team took a look at other ways to help parents. Without neighborhood social interaction and playgroup opportunities, Kango dove into e-learning services well ahead of back-to-school season, offering ways to keep creativity alive through a long and unusual summer at home. Rideshare services have always extended to children of all ages, and these online learning resources were no different. Later, when the Black Lives Matter movement swelled, the company made a point of expressing its solidarity in the fight against racism and continued the conversation through anti-racist media roundups and resources for parents on ways to begin these often difficult conversations with kids.
With an unsteady back-to-school season now underway, Kango is also facing an unprecedented era. In a time that would normally be bustling with fall schedules for sports and after-school activities, Kango is continuing to focus on supporting parents that are navigating the massive undertaking of online learning. Although they believe in the value of these services, Kango is mostly hopeful that, eventually, as in-person learning returns, their operations will get back to their original design, too.
“At the end of the day, Kango is here to get families where they need to go,” says Schaer. While recently this sentiment has been more along the lines of contactless delivery and online resources than traveling to physical destinations, Kango has always understood that caring for children, the family’s most precious cargo, is the top priority. Going forward, that may look like continuing drop-offs and deliveries, e-learning assistance, safely vetted childcare, or the return to the rideshare model that launched Kango. Whatever comes next for families, one thing is certain: Kango is along for the ride.
The Kango app can be found in the app store, here.