Today we’d like to introduce you to Gretchen Salyer.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
First, I am a mom to three incredible daughters who are 9, 8, and 6. We have a blast together and they inspire me every day. I spent the majority of my career working in technology in a variety of roles. Ultimately, I ended up in a General Management position at Intuit with a large, international team solving important customer problems for small businesses. I loved my job, but after being at the same company for 15 years, I decided I wanted to try out a new career as a full-time mom to reconnect with my girls and assess what was next for me and our family – that was about 3 years ago. About six months into my new job, the pandemic hit and suddenly I (like every parent, globally) also became a (mediocre in my case) homeschool teacher. It rocked me. It was so hard. But the question I kept asking myself during that time was, “How in the world were parents who were trying to hold down a full-time job… and keep their kids in school… surviving?” I couldn’t believe that the hard thing I was going through was just as hard and, in most cases, HARDER for almost every other family on the planet.
I knew I had to help. I started locally, organizing childcare swaps and schedules for friends and neighbors so that those who needed it could gain access to reliable and consistent childcare. Just a few weeks into this model, we were all struck by how much we LOVED this approach to childcare. Our kids were happy being with friends (instead of just us or just a nanny) and we were happier and connected to each other in a way we’d never been before. Soon, I found myself being asked by other friends and then friends of friends if I could help them organize similar swaps. One thing led to another and suddenly June Care was born.
June Care connects parents looking for childcare with qualified stay-at-home parents who can care for their kids. The company really started as an experiment (in June 2021) to see if there was enough demand for this approach to childcare on both sides: families looking for childcare and stay-at-home parents interested in getting paid to help watch someone else’s children. Within the first week of launching a test site and talking about the concept on Facebook, I was immediately struck with the energy, enthusiasm, and demand for a service like June Care from parents. Those super early days involved me, a lot of spreadsheets, Google forms, manual background checks, etc. to try to keep up with demand as best I could. By October / November I knew two things clearly:
1. June Care’s model worked and needed to exist in the world
2. There was NO way I was going to be able to bring June Care to all of the families who needed it on my own.
So, in January of 2022, I raised my first Venture Capital money, led by Craft Ventures and some incredible Angel Investors, built our small yet mighty team, and have continued to be focused on customer experience, growth and scale since then!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would best describe the June Care Road as steep and winding. 🙂 We are always learning new things from our customers, always testing new ways to make the best matches and deliver the best customer experience possible, and always iterating when we didn’t get something quite right or figure out something new that could make a real impact for families.
The largest challenge we’ve faced has been the reality of starting a childcare matching business during a global pandemic. On one hand, the dynamics of the pandemic have helped fuel the early growth of June Care. Childcare supply still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels… so families are open to new approaches to childcare. And with hybrid and shift work schedules sticking around, families need more flexible childcare options, which June Care can provide well.
In spite of this, when the Omicron surge hit at the end of 2021/early 2022, parents were scared of exposure for their children and we saw many of our matches go on pause or delay their start date until things calmed down. We also had a lot of last-minute cancellations occur, as parents became more wary of cold symptoms and potential exposure.
Our 1st priority was and always will be the safety and trust of the families within our network. We lifted any cancellation penalties for sickness or symptoms and openly communicated information about COVID preferences and safety precautions openly and honestly to match like-minded families and maintain comfort levels.
While the pandemic has been tough on the bottom line, we believe that if we continue to focus on what is best for our customers and make sure that everyone who comes to June Care has a great experience they can trust, the rest will follow. Thankfully, that is turning out to be true.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
June Care is a new approach to childcare. We are building a platform that connects parents who are looking for childcare with qualified, stay-at-home parents who can care for their kids. The main problem we are trying to solve is access to childcare and income for families, everywhere. Today, 51% of American families don’t have access to the childcare they need, which means (most often) the mom is leaving the workforce, sacrificing her career and financial opportunities due to a lack of access to the childcare she needs. On the flip side, for parents who are home with their kids, opportunities to earn an income while parenting are few and far between. June Care brings moms together on both sides of this paradigm, enabling new access to childcare and income for families, everywhere.
Core to the June Care brand is our vision: Moms supporting moms in their most important work… whether that work is inside or outside the home. Parents come to June Care because they trust us to support them in their most important job – raising and caring for their children.
In achieving our mission, we are seeing communities and neighborhoods come together to solve some of our most pressing needs as a society and that is the fuel that motivates us day in and day out. June stands for Joining Up Neighbors Everywhere, finally helping every family build their village.
One of our core values is trust. We know that choosing a caregiver is one of the hardest decisions many parents face, which is why we fully vet and background check every host parent, and collect reviews after every childcare experience. 100 percent of our June care hosts are “mom-and-dad-approved” and have received positive reviews. Also, 95% percent of our hosts have prior childcare or teaching experience; though that is not a requirement to host with us.
Parents can sign up for free to host or request childcare at junecare.co and there is no upfront cost or monthly fee to join our network and get matched.
Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
The most exciting parts of my life involve taking risks – whether they worked out or not. The first large risk I remember taking was right after high school when I decided to take a “gap year” before college, travel to Germany, get a job and an apartment (at 18) and try my hand at living and working internationally. I’ll be honest, that was a TOUGH year, but the experience and confidence I gained by making it through fueled me into the most successful college experience I could have possibly had. Other risks that have turned out better than I could have ever expected include marrying my husband, moving to California, leaving Intuit to become a stay-at-home mom, and starting June Care.
Unless we allow ourselves to take risks, we take the real risk of slowing our individual learning curves and growth. We only get this one life and I plan to really live it… which means trying some crazy things (like starting a company at 40 with 3 kids and a dog), stretching myself, and trying to make the world a better place.
- Website: junecare.co
- Instagram: @junecare.co
- Facebook: @junecare.co
- Twitter: @JuneCareCo