Tie Khudee Winner – We Care They Care

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The Winner of the TIE Khudee business plan competition is “We Care, They Care” from CBM Karachi.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, WCTC wants to set up Professional daycare centers for working families who would like their child to be taken-care-of well.

I want to talk about them from three perspectives:

From the perspective of their business premise
To be fair, the need they have identified may be valid. I say “may” because it wont be validated until working mothers agree to give their children to strangers in a day-care center. Once someone agrees to pay for these professional services then the presence of demand will be validated – the size of it is something else.

They might have done more research to realize that there are already many such centers available – atleast in some neighborhoods within Lahore and some families who run this in Isb. Its not socially accepted enough to become a national thing but if a working mother asked their reference network they might be able to find something.

Also, even building a very large-scale day-care center with a city-wide brand doesnt really need VC funds or angel funds. You could probably try to find SME funding through the SME Bank or SMEDA and set up a small functioning unit and bootstrap from there – you can get up to Rs.1.5M for viable local-focused plans through that.

Still, all in all, the model on the face of it describes a legitimate professional service – no quarrels there.

The problem I had was in other perspectives:

From the perspective of their model as an investment pitch
At TIE, one of the judges mentioned that their model (building out 5 daycare centers in 6 years) was not exciting enough to attract big funding, and it wasnt unique enough to discourage competition, and not disruptive enough to scale rapidly.

My addition on this is that the team did not demonstrate adequate depth of knowledge of their model. Depth of knowledge about the model comes from actually trying this model in the market – not just as a class project, but
actually quitting your job and trying to build out a dream.

Specifically, its the following types of questions that will be answered with an actual demonstrated pilot:

  • Can families in PK overcome the social hesitation of trusting strangers in daycare centers with your kids?
  • How will you be able to build this trust at the start when there are no references?
  • Can this really be a professional service that you can charge for?
  • Is a professional psychologist on-staff really needed, or would other types of professionals (elementary teachers etc) be more useful?
  • Will psychologists even agree to work in such a facility? How many have agreed to work as soon as your facility is ready?
  • How will we ensure child-safety from kidnappers that could connect with your support staff? What type of checks do you plan to make before hiring support staff? How much of those checks have you tried out already – which of those didnt work and why, and how are you adjusting your plans now?
  • etc

Despite what some may believe, the answers to these questions dont come after funding – actually quitting your job and starting something for 5-6 months — i.e. gaining some experience in the area — does help you answer them.

Even if you cannot demonstrate proven experience through your own startup, your experience in your career, choice of profession etc will help you answer those questions.

E.g. if you want to build a software for book writers, then it helps if you’re an author yourself — the pain points youve gone through in your past companies or experiences all help to shape your future.

This is why it is hard to build a case for a pure student project without field experience for investment.

This is also why I’m always particularly disappointment when — say — an engineer with 7 years of experience in say Reporting Systems development — jumps ship and builds a startup that does basic PHP projects or some other completely irrelevant thing.

From the perspective of their service

This is where I have some very serious concerns.

Are they actually serious about building a day-care center that has a live-video feed recording of their children that gets pumped into a website that you can log into and view?

Somehow I cannot come to accept that mentors like Umar Saif and Monis Rahman who were guiding the final 30 in workshops did not tear them apart into itty bitty pieces on the potential privacy and security backlash of this.

Do I really want daily status reports prepared by child psychologists about the toddlers, or would to know that the kid was happy and adjusted with the other kids at the center?

Would I want a center thats run through tight processes like a prison or a place or warmth, happiness, flexibility and care?

Again, this is highly subjective but personally with their product in the way it is right now I would think about keeping my kids far away.

So whats the future of We Care They Care?

They have SEED money from two sources now, and should have plenty of time to test and fix their product. But moreso than that even if their product remains highly defective there is still a good chance that it will work out, but it may have nothing to do with their product or business.

There are certain businesses that have inelastic demand in this country. E.g. in Lahore – you can open up a restaurant anywhere and it will be successulf… you could be selling burnt tire remains for all I care – but as long as the food’s given a fancy brand name like “screecher” your business will work.

Similarly, it seems like there are just so many kids and so many concerned parents out there wishing their best, that anything and everything with children also works… you can sell 4-page reading books for Rs.200 here to lowest-income households, exploit thousands of children that pay to study from sub-standard higher-education institutes in every nook of the country, and it would work… businesses around children have nearly inelastic demand.

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14 Comments

  • There is a model for day care centres that has been seen to work in Pakistan already and addresses some of the legitimate issues you highlight above. An entrepreneur in Karachi has set up daycare centres for multinational companies on their premises. These are warm, colourful, fun places where teachers and nurses have taken employment – playing with the children, taking care of them, feeding them, etc. Formal training has been provided to ensure that some consistency and quality of staff is maintained. The advantage of having the daycare centre on the premises is that parents can come and visit their kids during lunch and coffee breaks. The security aspect is taken care of because these guys already have adequate security for their offices.

    Another model that has been tried and seems to work is a combined facility that has been set up for several large companies in one locale.

    The video streaming part was something they considered too but it was shot down spefically due to the reasons you have talked about Osama.

    As an offshoot these people have now started a training centre for daycare professionals which apparently is also working out well. They are also look at franchising the concept, training and set-up model to large local outfits across Pakistan. Just thought I would share this information regarding something that has actually worked in the area of daycare.

  • Fantastic! Didnt know these things existed.

    I would love to be able to set one of those up in my firm… so heres hoping I scale to that level 😉

  • Here’s hoping that you scale to that level soon :). Just as an add-on, some of the large technology companies are already considering setting up daycare facilities on their premises so as to be able to retain their best women professionals.

  • The finalists of khudee were absolute rubbish. The ideas were not innovative, the presentations were crap, the RoIs projected were terrible. The students had vague/bad ideas, the winning presentation had the marketing strategy out of a text-book. It was a sad sad display. Maybe next time.

  • I personally seriously doubt the practicality of WCTC. Trust me, in our culture mothers feel proud of nurturing their kids. We cannot replicate US model in Pakistan. However, i beleive most of judges beleive what ever was successful in USA will be successful in Pakistan.
    Most of high-profiled enterprenuers, including Monis Rehman, are replicating the successful models of US in Pakistan. Though, monis rightly identified, job board and social networking for muslims, but some might extrapolate to something like WCTC.

    To enhance womer participation at work, many companies are providing child care facilities. However, taking your child to office to work-place makes sense, leaving it to someone for whole day does not.

    Osama, can you please about other projects?

  • A total disappointment seeing the finalists. Total crap! If i were to choose one of them it would have been the last group! I mean “we care, day care” was CRAP!!! they’re making 2.4Billion in a few years with a few offices, are you kidding me?
    The presenter had no skill! Salman, the guy to present that water project was much more presentable. their statistics were better and had proper content. Day care center, OMG i still cant get over it. it feels like a slap!!
    And not to mention none of our 7 business plans ever reached TiE …. which is strange because even TCS confirms the delivery.
    We used to laugh at Day Care center business plans in our class …. we used to reject em! now they are the winner. a shame! i wish i had left the conference before these crap presentations now i feel bad. the summit otherwise was the best experience ever in my life.

  • Hira

    When mothers have the option to take care of their children, yes they do. But there are times when on account of an early death of a husband, illness in the family or any other socio economic reason she has to work and raise her children. Which is where day care centers come in. They empower women in need.

    The traditional model is an ammah or any ayah at home to look after your child. So it is not something alien to our culture. Day care centers just scale it up.

    Athar

    The security questions are the same questions that early learning centers and pre-schools have already answered. Parents are ready to leave two year olds at schools. All day care centers do is push the limit forward.

    Zaki

    Rather than getting pissed at not being selected, go out and make one of your seven business plan happen. The best win is not a business plan win, it is a customer win with real revenues. If you can beat TCWC to that, it will be a far sweeter payback.

  • You got my name wrong again! :)

    I wonder what would happen if I asked Athar Osama to also become an author at G&W – that would become a timewarp.

  • @ Jawaad,

    I’m hardly pissed. Im not saying “day care centers” dont have any business value in pakistan. Ofcourse they do, and they are doing fine. We care Day care people did not have the any knowledge of financials, presentation, marketting and ofcourse convincing the VCs for their business. And the unconvinced remark of Akram Chawdry confirms that.

    Business plans dont really need TES to be practical, but if TES is going to make these kind of business plans their “best” then its only discouraging! All the hype and strength gone to waste. Maybe they will realise it now too and next year comeup with a more fair and tough competition.

    You’re right best win is the customer win. But i just highly doubt we care day care will be earning 2.4 B after 5 years. They’re putting it like the whole world just needs day care centers and assuming that every1 would be putting their kids in one of “their” day care centers. And then paying …. what? …5000Rs for 1 child / month? A huge percentage of pakistanis dont have that much salary even. lets accept for argument that they are targetting corporate customers, i dont think these corporate customers make 12 babies each! even then i highly doubt they would reach even a percentage of their projected revenues. They just think in terms of money in, not money out. Even their money in formulas had big issues, because in real world you dont multiply your money in with 10 or even 100!

    Anyways, everyone has his own perspective. I just think this would never fly!

  • Osama
    My apologies. I think it would be loads of fun having the real Athar here.

    Zaki
    My apologies if I sounded harsh. Your perspective is the right one. I wasn’t there and didn’t have all the details.

  • No problem.

    You know the problem with this country (perhaps a problem) is that – again, there is inelastic demand for anything related to kids.

    You can pretty well charge Rs.5000 and you will still find some parents willing to put this in.

    As Jawwad rightly points out that pre-schools have already helped parents get over the hesitation of leaving their children somewhere, but I still wonder if younger kids will be left somewhere.

    Its good to know as Jehan mentions that there are already companies setting up onsite daycare centres which makes a whole lot more sense

  • Jawad:
    I totally agree with your first post that “Day care centers empower women in need.”

    Others:
    I think some really harsh statements have been put up on this forum. But i think the winning team fairly justified their success. Im a mother of 2 little kids and i know how much an on-site day care center would help minimize the tension i go through all day long while im at work.
    I believe there is a tremendous need.. I think their plan had everything to cater to this need in the most effective way.
    I wish them all the best and looking forward to find one of their center in my office as well.
    :)

  • Jibraan Hayat Khan

    People, scandalizing the we care they care plan using amature and emotional comments is making celebrities out of an XYZ student group. Only by basing arguements on substanciated facts and looking at the winner plan from all angles can yield anything useful. Childishly shooting the effort down and and spreading misimformation is NOT professional. Although i didnt get a chance to see the final presentation made from their side since i had to leave during the time Mr. Lodhi was presenting, but i later met up with Mr. Monis and Mr. Ali in Karachi and i completely agree with their decision rational. It was not product or idea innovation that got WCTC the first prize. It was their startup strategy execution plan that earned them points. Apparantly only a few teams had worked on that. Although their initial financials did look absolutely ridiculous but when they did revise them it showed the group knew what they were talking about (revised financials were also not overly impressive). According to the opinion of two of my freinds who as also VC’s present in the summit, if any plan deserved to win, it was either Properdia(a peoperty wikipedia) which due to weak research did not make it even in the top three or the we care they care day care plan.

    The day care idea obviously sounds non original beacause it is something that every person has been hearing about since forever, but the judges were not so stupid as to consider THIS fact as a reason to base the plan plagiarized. Day cares, especially in Pakistan are very rarely a profitable idea, and there are few people willing to take the risk of starting a private daycare. It’s a labor of love, or a bankruptcy. I’d tell the same thing to anyone looking to start a for-profit swimming pool, or a football park, or a network gaming center. These are all services that are important for a community, but wouldn’t be provided at all if left to the government alone. Comming up with a business plan to start a daycare aimed at all this and also to encourage working women in Pakistan actually is a brilliant idea.
    The We Care They Care group got three huge investment offers on the day on the final presentation, which basically says it all. I believe what deserves credit and appreciation should definitely be given that and besides, a judge can be biased or just stupid, but NOT a venture capitalist. For those of you who dont know what a VC is should look it up on the internet.
    Cheers

  • Zubair Umer

    Dear Friends,

    My Name is Zubair Umer, and am working as a Marketing Manager with the Textile Buying Agency, My Salary is not covering my whole month and i want my wife to work along, but i have 4 kids and they cannot be left alone with the maid or anyother relative, even if my wife work half days for any school, so in the end this thing struck into my mind and i finally decided to open a DAY CARE CENTRE in the living vicinity to cover up my extra expanses by giving services to the people who are like me, needed some place to leave their children in a safe and healthy environment.

    for that i have visited 3 day care centres in Karachi, and all of them are not a proper day care centres, infact they are the part of the business by allocating only one room in the building where kids have to play, sleep and eat.

    My Day care center will be a kind of different in aspect by providing a complete day care fascility to the kids in terms of providing them separate areas for each activity.

    Mrs. Zubair’s Day Care Centre is going to open from First of August (Insha Allah), and i will deffinitely post my first month experince here to let you all people know how the responce is.

    Please pray for the success of my business.

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