Business Technology

How an innovative approach to a traditional firm earned a company gold stars from customers

5 min read

11 October 2015

Dropping your child off at nursery before you go to work can be a surprisingly traumatic experience for parents and children. For many mothers and fathers concerns about how their kids are being treated can be distracting, and it was this concern that one nursery tried to address.

A secure webcam system at Oakham Day Nursery in the county of Rutland, offers a live feed to parents, who are able to visit the website after receiving a secure login.

“I’ve always worked in childcare as has my business partner, Lucy Charlton, but we felt we wanted to do something different,” said 27-year-old Charlotte Molony, one of the young entrepreneurs behind the nursery. “We want to move childcare with modern times and as far as we are aware, we are the first nursery in Rutland to have this kind of mobile security technology. This is a new thing for nurseries and we think it creates transparency and offers extra peace of mind for parents.”

To create this unique selling point Molony and Charlton, 35, took out a £15,000 loan with First Enterprise Business Agency, which serves the entire East Midlands.

Qammar Zamman, chief executive at First Enterprise Business Agency, said: “Molony and Charlton had a clear vision of where they wanted to take the business and an excellent model. Before they came to us they had no support from other lenders, but we saw potential in their business idea.”

Molony explained: “Through doing research we found that the secure webcam system is something that parents welcome. We also put together a journey planner which maps what children are up to during the day and is a great way for parents to feel connected to their child’s day at nursery.”

A survey of the childcare sector by market analysts LaingBuisson in 2014 put the value of day nurseries in the UK at £4.9bn – a rise of four per cent in real terms. There was a rise of 6.5 per cent in the number of children attending nurseries and the report’s author talks of “a big shift in momentum towards growth, which was fairly stable in the past few years [but is] starting to grow again.”

However, Molony and Charlton realised that they’d have to make their offer stand out with an additional feature. The two women decided that introducing a slightly unusual element to the nursery would provide an important differentiator in what is after all, a very traditional and well established business sector.

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“The decision to open Oakham Day Nursery came from the idea that child care was ready for a new approach,” explained Molony.

“With ten years previous experience, we both had a good basis of understanding to the industry and we could see how there could be benefits from new ideas and modern technology.”

As part of this new approach Molony and Charlton decided to rethink the way traditional nurseries worked. “We understand that today’s lifestyles mean that childcare needs to change in order to provide a service that is complimentary and relevant to today’s living – while maintaining the highest standards,” said Molony. 

“It’s because of this understanding and the new modern approaches we have taken that we are successful. We use technology like fingerprint recognition entry system, parent interactive software, and secure parent login CCTV to give parents peace of mind and make the nursery both a fun and safe environment. Our customers use us for this very reason.”

The two would like to expand their business over time. They’re ambitious but aware of the need, like the children in their care, to learn to walk before they can run.

One element of the business, however, has not changed, despite their modern, high tech approach. “We designed and decorated each of the areas to create the ideal learning space,” explained Molony. “The best moments are seeing the children enjoy their play space, which was specifically designed to ignite their imagination while enhancing learning through play.”