Discuss early childhood learning, starting a business in a busy field, starting a marketplace, and solving new problems with Andrea Christie-David from Leor.
Andrea is a mother of three young herself and a Lawyer by profession. She is passionate about high quality standards of education and care and applies to Leor’s operations.
She Leor to allow families the opportunity to access an innovative method of meeting the ever-changing demands of a busy family life and make life easier for everyone in the home.
Andrea chats about solving new problems, breaking into a crowded marketplace, and her early struggles.
Links mentioned in the show
Read the full transcript
Note, 100% accuracy is not guaranteed with transcripts, but gee we try.
So my background in education comes from when I would always be allocated internal training at different workplaces
skill that came to me naturally where, you know, my securities will figure out that I would be very good in passing knowledge about other people. So that been developed into me running professional development programs, the lawyers, and then becoming a university lecturer and cause convener and tutor at various Australian universities.
Excellent. So you’ve got a bit of a background there, and how did you get from, you know, education in the law field to starting the all which is an in home early learning center.
So we we’ve got three kids. So I have three children under three. And I tried family daycare, long daycare, preschool nannies, Grandpa grandparents, you know, the lot, and I tried to play together the best aspects of all of those and bring them into the home environment. I saw where my children thrive, and I saw where they I suppose didn’t feel overly comfortable. And I tried to base the model around my own experiences,
right? And for those that are at home, and may not know much about the program, can you please go into a little bit more about what Lee or what the what you’re all about, and what you’re, what you’re practicing what you’re preaching, and basically, how just give us your little elevator pitch, I guess.
Yeah, so sorry, my elevator pitches that we deliver high quality early childhood education and kit in the family home. And all of our educators are qualified and experienced. So what that means is basically that I identified a gap in the market, I identified that there was actually about to be an oversupply of childcare in some of the major cities in Australia. And following on from usually get an oversupply of qualified stuff. I also identified that there was going there was issues in terms of pay. So educators were saying that they weren’t getting paid enough. And I thought this was a way of actually paying them a bit better. So for example, deployment qualified educators and we take only to find a qualified about deployment. Qualified educators get paid at a CT rates and above. So we actually pay above the city award, and then a CT educators who come to us, we also pay them about what they’re getting at the moment. And if we can afford it, of course, is the step that basically I was trying to address the issue of the supply qualified educators that was about to happen, and the pirates. And the other thing that I identified was, there are a lot of people talking about the fact that when they worked casually, or part time in talking sentence, they weren’t allowed to get professional development included as part of their work. So they would often have to pay for it themselves. So I created a model where we will be keeping our educators professional development as part of their employment. And we will also be offering professional development to other educators who are not employed by us at a very affordable, right,
yeah, that’s brilliant. And we’re chatting a little bit off air about early childhood and the income problems that a lot of early childhood educators have, because they work so hard. And the the, the rate of pay is, you know, really unders on what they should be what they should be earning. And one of my friends is actually an early childhood educator. And I kind of tell her that
the business and the programs are based off the early childhood educators being like, the nicest people on the planet. So they usually take a little bit less. And being able to tackle that pay discrepancy is a really, really good thing that you guys are doing. And especially when you combine that with Lucky said, if you’re already underpaid, and you don’t have the chance for professional development, and you’ve got to get that out of your own pocket, it can be really, really quite expensive to keep that all up to date. And especially when it comes down to working casual, because a lot of the early childhood educators I know, are only on a casual basis. So there are a lot of people in that business that are trying to keep up with their payday and whatnot, and really having a program like this is perfect for that. So I think that’s a really great idea.
Yeah, thanks. So we get, we don’t want to differentiate between who’s working personally or part time for us, as long as they’re employed by us, they get access to offer some development. So we are in the process at the moment of getting accreditation with the New South Wales education standards authority for teacher professional development. But we will open that up to other educators, and try and make it as affordable as you can.
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I want to go into a little bit how you went from the idea and how you went from the gap in the market to putting that into practice.
So I had actually been looking into the market for the last couple of years, we have
some potential investors who had faith in me. And my background is, I suppose running teams and, and delivering results in other instances. So they had faith in me investing in me to start a business and one of the businesses they were looking at was a child care center. So I had my eye on the market for a while I was also studying the master teaching in earlier is that I see which I’m have differed at the moment, because
the graph but but I’ve been doing that, always halfway through that. So I’ve already been studying the industry, the issues in relation to early childhood obviously had my own experience. And I was watching a lot of what people were saying on online forums. And that’s really I mean, and I already knew about the pages. So when I, I saw people complaining about the personal development, about the compliance in terms of the regulations, and the restrict nature, the regulations, being a lawyer, I studied the regulations quite significantly, and I found this exception. And so this exception is that we can actually go into family homes with educators and not fall within the sacred requirements. And so I built a model around that. But being a mother myself, and having sent my children to into the care about the people, I really wanted to send this to be quite high. So actually, all of our policies and procedures the same as Charcot sentence. So I wanted to make it something that was great for the educators something that I’m you have academic long term research and supporting the model and the outcomes for children, and also something that was convenient, all families.
Yeah, definitely. And what I love the areas you were visiting those online forums, and you were saying, You were saying, What problems are out there, and how you can solve it. And there’s so many times that when we, as teachers, as business owners, we try and start something and we almost fall in love with a solution rather than the potential customers problem. And
yeah, and, you know, being and finding that,
that issue with the professional development and finding that, you know, that could have been something that you may not have thought about beforehand, for example, I know, that’s something that I wouldn’t have thought about beforehand, but you say, people are having that problem. And that’s another thing that you could add into your business. So it’s just, it’s just knowing your market and
skills that you already have. So, you know, I already had the professional development skills, I’ve set up programs, like one of the programs I set up was the first of its kind of trained registered migration agents, once they finish their qualification. So it gave them a practical training course, they’re often we would really highly by the regulator on the quality of that program. And I spearheaded that project. So I thought, well, I’ve done that before, I can then transfer that to education. And, you know, the other way that I ran the program is I would get thought leaders and subject matter experts to speak on their areas of expertise. But what I was doing was just administering, managing the program. So I think that’s also really important to use your skills wisely, and know when you need to engage the skills of others with the relevant expertise.
Yeah, that’s it. And it’s always so many people that are willing to help like those strategic partnerships and those partnerships with other businesses, really, where growth comes from, because I know, for example, I work with a lot of businesses that want to do referral systems and whatnot. And it’s all well and good to have, you know, a customer to customer referral system. But if you’ve got other businesses and other people who you’re, you’re helping, and it’s a two way street, and you help each other and you drive business to each other, like the, the benefits just second to none. And no, knowing when to rely on other people’s expertise is a bit of a tricky thing. Because like, as teachers were kind of control freaks as it is, while we can be
and then as business owners that can almost like, you know, double down on the fact that you want to be in control. So knowing when to bring someone else in is really, really important. So that’s, that’s really good to get shared that I want to have a bit of a chat about some of the early Was there any early friction when sort of starting a business like this, I know, got surely going into other people’s homes, you’ve got to keep the standards up high, and is that there’s an extra barrier to entry, I guess, because you’re allowing people into your home. But you find that was an issue when you first started out, or,
um, I think a lot of the families who have been interested in the mom, um, I guess they already appreciate and value the space that they’ve created for children. So you you are, you know, we have found there are a lot of parents like daycare, daycare, daycare, and I swear by them by setting touch on today get with educators, we speak to parents who have a real interest in early childhood development, they absolutely understand the benefits of home based environments, particularly for children under three. So, um, so one of the pieces of feedback that I’ve got is because of my background, in terms of managing quality standards in previous roles, they feel confidence that I’ve set up a system of checks and balances for supervision for
delivery of a service in a consistent way. So they feel as opposed to, I suppose, going directly to a nanny or hiring anyone directly, they felt like the system that I put in place gives them that assurance of who’s coming into their home and, you know, is accountable is professionals of a particular standard.
Yeah, that’s it as well. And I guess that’s so many businesses these days have that almost like a marketplace cut type of model and finding, finding the quality there is one of the main one of the main problem or potential problems that you can have running that. So I think you doing a really, really good job in regards to making sure the barrier of entry and there’s a few hoops that people have to jump through to be able to work with you. And, you know, if you’re, if you’re expecting, sorry, keep going
now, I was gonna say, so, I think, um, with regards to how parents feel, in terms of coming into the home environment, they showed that as educators qualified and their experience so they actually have been vetted by us to make sure that they can do the job and not only can they do the job, but they have actually already done the job in a shop. Okay, center or preschool or or nanny Ingelheim care environment. So we have set the standard pretty hot, we do get a lot of job applicants. And we, you know, unfortunately, they don’t all get through, but the people that we do have with starting to build a really high quality team. So
I think the parents are assured by the standard that we set. And, you know, as you’d be aware, you know, not that stem doesn’t actually apply and childcare centers, so you can get
educators who haven’t finished their studies in childcare center. So we’re letting parents know that, yes, there is something coming into your house, it might be a bit, you know, nerve wracking at the start. But we’ve we’ve created a situation where you can trust them. And, and they’re going to be at a professional level.
Yeah, definitely. And you’ve come into that a good Todd because, well, think about like, 1015 years ago, if you’d have said, People could stay at your house when you weren’t there. And it would be okay, you’d be sort of a bit, you raise an eyebrow, you’d raise an eyebrow to it. But now Airbnb is, you know, one of the be like, you know, one of my businesses out there, and it’s kind of built, it’s built its name off that. So I think like, the, the,
the way that people are thinking about businesses like that is really changing. So you come and especially with a younger, a younger audience as well. And these are the, you know, the parents of young children now. So,
so I think you’ve come into that at a really good time, which is, yeah, really, really cool. I want to go a little bit more into
just how you’re going with finding when you’re when you get an idea like this, you put it into practice, how do you start finding educators to come in and do a lot of the legwork?
Well, it was pretty tough at the start to set the table to have that in didn’t want that, you know, we don’t have bricks and mortar. So it was definitely you know, that situation of we don’t have bricks and mortar, you’re used to go into childcare center, what is this new business,
so it’s a bit nerve wracking to them. But we’ve been really lucky that the people that have decided to take the pack with us really is amazing. They’re doing a fantastic job. And they’re really excited and passionate about seeing the business grow. So it was really challenging at the start to get the trust across. But now actually, I’m getting such good job applicants. And I know it’s really have enough for them. So I think the words got out and and now, you know, it’s going to be a bit of a snowball effect.
Yeah, definitely. And in a program like this is bother obviously, there will be taking care of less children, and they would be in a child care center as well, which,
yeah, that’s right. So it’s Ray children. And you know, what the educators say, I don’t believe it’s not crowd control, they actually get to do teaching. I mean, of course, they and these agents, of course, you’re going to be doing that the diners and fading and things like that, but you’re actually going to get that really dedicated time to teach them and see them grow and stay and build relationships with them. Oh,
yeah, crowd control is definitely the right way to put it. I one of my English classes, one of my English classes went to an early childhood sent out to rates and storybooks that we’d written to the kids. And it was, it was, it was legitimately crowd control. It was I’ve never seen anything like it. And I wanted,
I just wanted to, like, hug every one of my students afterwards, and appreciation. And just for not being three and not being
I mean, there are some, you know, battling
those lines and getting amazing outcomes.
And it is a difficult scenario, I think, to deliver a really fantastic learning outcomes, because there are just so many children in some of these centers, especially some of these large full profit centers. It just it just huge.
Yeah. And again, because your program and your platform is something so different. And getting that early traction, especially, you know, for the child, early childhood educators that are used to kind of the one business model, really, and that’s it. So coming in there with something else can be a little bit daunting. There’s always a fear of the unknown. So I think it’s really cool that you are getting those qualified people, and you are getting the people that want to be there and want to help you guys grow.
And so you you were mentioning you’ve got plans to jump into the professional development space soon as well.
Yeah, that’s right. So obviously, I’ve done recently for lawyers many, many years, and the university teaching and I’ve also been doing the Master Master teaching myself. So we’ve got really, really experienced educator coming on board in a couple of weeks. And she’s,
she’s basically going to be preparing all of our materials for submission for approval for accreditation, which I’m confident we’re going to get. But she brings about 20 years experience. We’ve also got an educated coming on board in January, he’s got about 23 years experience. So between them, I think they’ll have a huge to offer in terms of professional development. And then, as you mentioned before, you know, we’ve got collaborative relationships with other organizations. So it just recently with a couple of really amazing parenting support organizations at the moment to do some guest speaker talk arrangements with them.
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I love the way that you are you mentioned right at the start, it’s all about thinking outside the box. And yeah, that’s definitely something that I can say that you’ve done, and from what you’re telling me, and what you’re telling the audience thinking outside the box is really something that’s differentiating you from your competition and differentiating you from everybody else out there offering a similar service? And do you have anything to mention in regards that because you’re in a crowded marketplace, and it is really it is really, it’s, it’s vital now to kind of make yourself a marketplace of one, which is something
Well, look, I have to say, Look, I know, I acknowledge that we’re not a mass market product, because obviously, we want to pay our educators Well, it’s a small group, so we don’t get to leverage the large numbers of children we could be caring for. So you know, the fees are not necessarily something that every family could afford. But what I can say is that we, we’ve made it as flexible as we can, so that even if you can’t afford a full day of care, you could still get three hours of learning for the child. So if a teacher is thinking about doing something, you know, that’s out of the box, you got to think well, how big is your market, and how accessible is your product to the market. So we’ve, we’ve acknowledged that our market is not going to be everybody. But we’ve tried to create products within the offering. And that are the fact that most families could still access.
Yeah, that’s brilliant. And that just comes down to knowing your market as well. And so many times when we have a business, we try and base sort of everything to everybody, and it doesn’t get the effect that you want. And I know that knowing where you are, and knowing, you know, you, for example, you know, who your market is, you know what they can and other they can’t do, and you know who your product and your service appeals to, you can differentiate your marketing your marketing, you can put into effect programs that are suited to that people. And you might drive away some families that aren’t in your target market. But for any business out there. If you’re driving away people that aren’t a part of your target market, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.
Yeah, you’ve got to know what your niche is. And we know ounces in the product.
So we’ve titled market accordingly, we price it accordingly. Um, the other thing is that when we’ve spoken to parents about what we actually offer,
and we describe the service, one thing they ask is, oh, gosh, is it really expensive, because you can say, it’s actually a high quality product that we’re offering, you know, we’re coming into the high with Highland Park to bring equipment, and we’re getting high quality stuff, and you get what you pay for. So the parents actually already assume that it’s going to be a little bit on the high side. But, you know, at the end of the day, when they do the calculation, sometimes cheaper than what they pay now.
Yeah, definitely. And especially, like you said, you try and limit it to, you know, three, like, for parents that have three children, it could be, you know, almost as this the same price some child, but some early childhood care is ridiculously expensive now to
Yeah, that’s right. Um, and the other thing is, in terms of knowing your name is, like I said before, is knowing what you’re really good at, and using those skills wisely. And then identifying what you what you might not be that great? And do you include that in your business model? Or do you engage or collaborate with other people who do have those skills, one of the main reasons that businesses fail is that they spread themselves too too thinly too quickly. So if you’re trying to do a lots of lots of different things to early then you just not going to be doing so focus on one thing and get it right and do it well, before maybe diversifying, that’s that’s definitely one tip, I would have people
Oh, 100% and well said, it’s, it’s almost a common theme that everyone who comes on here and has built something that is profitable and has built something that is successful have always said, you know, focus on one little nation expand from there. And once you’re once you know what you’re good at. And once you know, your one little, your one little nation, your one little service, you can nail that and become a master of it, and then expand from there, rather than spread yourself too thin at the start. And it’s so much more productive to do one thing really, really, really well then to do, you know, three, four, five different things, okay.
And that’s something that you’re showing with your business as well. And it’s something it’s an easy, it’s an easy trap to fall into with the whole shiny new object syndrome, I guess you could call it
and how have you been able with your business to kind of stay on track, because I’m sure other shiny new objects have come up, what’s your what’s a little tip that you have on how to remain on task and focused?
Well, I was juggling three children and a board director ship
family life is it’s a, it’s a combination of a million different techniques. But I guess I have to make use of every minute that I have. So something and I taught this a lot when I had a lot of junior lawyers who used to work for me and volunteers is broke down tasks into really brain tasting tasks. And then you’re like, 330 afternoon, switch your brain off sort of tasks.
And the reason I do that is because I know, okay, I’ve got up at 530 in the morning. Yes, sometimes that happens, because the children are still asleep. And I can actually get a brain teasing tasks done in two hours. So I’ll take that off the list. But if I’ve got things on my list that, you know, either sort of 330 level tasks like, I don’t know, designing a flyer or doing something a little bit more fun. Then once I hit that point in the day, I can look at my task list and mark those things off. And then, you know,
sometimes I get a lot of work done after my husband comes home from work, and he’s out there dealing with dinner and bath, and I’m logged in that office working away. And then, you know, again, going back to the houses and looking at how much brain power I’ve got those things I can do, or just knocking off emails and getting back to people. So, you know, it’s, um, it’s a juggle, and I think if you are going to start your own business, you do have to be
realistic about the fact that you’re going to have a lot of things on your plate. Just because I started this business doesn’t mean I gave up being a mom. And I always say to my husband, you know, I’m technically a stay at home, Mom, start up a business center, Director of
uni student. So there’s all these things that you have to juggle. So unfortunately, just because it starts to take the plunge on something doesn’t mean rest of your life sort of move sideways, and you just have to kind of manage it all all the balls in the air.
Yeah, like you said, you wearing a lot of hats doing that. And, like you said, having realistic expectations at the start, I find that a lot of the times people can overestimate what they can achieve in For example, one year, but really underestimate what they can achieve in you know, 10 years. So,
yeah, it’s a long game. I think that’s the other thing that a lot of, you know,
successful entrepreneurs are trying to give as a piece of advice to new startup owners is, it’s actually a long game people expect to be successful in a year when most businesses take three years to turn a profit. So, you know, it’s great, the passion, the excitement, and the the, you know, that sense of passion that people bring to a new concept is great, but really, you have, it’s a marathon, not a sprint,
yeah, 100%. And at the end of the day, like, slow is smooth and smooth, is fast. So moving slowly, will get you where you need to go quicker. It’s the old, you know, tortoise and the hare sort of thing. But it’s it is, like you said, when you when you first start, you’re all excited, there’s a million new things you’re learning, everything’s new, and you start to get those little wins. And that can lead to sort of spreading yourself too thin. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is people almost get sick of monotony of success, like being successful is just doing the little things consistently. Um, and sometimes that can be boring.
Sometimes you want to spread your wings out and try something else. But you’ve really got to say, Are you really spreading yourself too thin, especially if you are a teacher and a business owner. And you could be playing a sport on the weekends, and you could be a parent and there could be a million different hats you’re wearing, you’ve really got to focus on what is the most important thing and doing that,
look, if you ask my husband, he would say I spread myself
I don’t, I don’t operate any other way. So, um, you know, it’s, um, I kind of always have a full plate. But
But yeah, it’s about I suppose time management being organized and being disciplined. You know, that doesn’t mean you can’t have downtime, you can definitely have downtime, but unfortunately has to be shed
in the diary. Or you have to like when you do have downtime, there’s going to be something else that sleep. So how are you going to manage that the next
one is an accountable and discipline.
Yeah, that’s it. And if you find, you know, the right business, and if you find the right it doesn’t have to be, you know, your side house doesn’t have to be a business that you’re running. But if you find whatever it is outside of teaching, to put some time into and make teaching not, you know, 24 hour a day job, if you find the right thing that will give you more energy that will reinvigorate you and once you to do more and you It’s surprising now with the amount of extra things that I’m doing that I wasn’t doing say five years ago when I started teaching,
it’s amazing that all of these extra things I’m doing and I’m not burning out whereas when I would
you know, just focus on my teaching and then sort of collapse on the couch, watch a couple hours of TV and wake up the next day and be tired
It’s kind of crazy how doing more has made me less tired if that makes sense.
Yeah, well I think you know, with my previous role we had a lot of volunteers that would come and deliver free legal advice to eligible members of the community you know sometimes they’d be around in Orban in Western Sydney until 910 o’clock at night helping us out and delivering that advice but they just loved it you know, I was so passionate about it and even when I used to go out there and I’d leave and it didn’t matter what time it was you just full of energy because you were doing something that you loved and you’re helping other people so i think you know even if it’s just one thing in the week that you can do that you really love it it’s something that’s really important to maintain so I’m on target and energized
yeah I couldn’t have said it better myself thank you so much Andrew before we let you go Where can the older teachers and the parents and people who just want to learn a little bit more about you Where can Where can we contact you and where can we find you
yeah so the website is Leo la la.com username actually constantly Old English word for learning, which was Leonean I’m all about details are on there. You know, teachers are welcome to contact me about whether they want to collaborate where they want to be part of our professional development or, you know, where they want to get a job with us as we grow, I think, you know, we will have more space for more teachers, more educators. So, um, and, yeah, more than happy to, you know, answer any questions. I do want to go down another path in the education space.
Excellent. Thank you very much, Andrea. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for joining.
Okay. Thanks, Vince.
All right. Bye.