Working mom’s child care needs lead to new benefits company

Balancing professional and family life is a major challenge for employees. For parents getting back into the workforce, finding the right child care options can be a daunting task — especially since employer-offered benefits tailored to this need are still rare.

This is a lesson Shadiah Sigala, CEO of Kinside, learned the hard way when she became pregnant with her first child four years ago. At the time, she was a co-founder and executive leader at HoneyBook, a vendor managing platform for event professionals. Their small team already included parents, but Sigala’s pregnancy opened up new challenges for the tech startup.

“I, as a founder and the first woman pregnant [at HoneyBook], had to think about our company policy and culture, as we didn’t have any policies yet for new parents,” Sigala says.

It would be these challenges that would lead Sigala to co-found a second tech startup — Kinside — a service for working parents to find, manage and save on child care.

As more Honeybrook employees began to have children, Sigala saw a growing need for acknowledging the challenges of new parenthood.

“As we looked at our company demographics, we realized the demographic of parenthood was becoming very relevant,” Sigala says. “So we looked at ways to support our new parents through benefits, infrastructure and cultural practices.”

At Honeybrook, paid family leave was the first step, followed by postpartum care, but as they went down their new parent checklist, it became clear that the one issue continuing to go unaddressed was child care.

“Once you reintegrate to work, child care consumes your life as a parent logistically, financially and emotionally,” Sigala says.

Sigala set out to market in the hopes of purchasing a child care benefit for HoneyBook’s employees, only to discover there was nothing relevant or diverse enough in payscale available. That’s when she realized the time was right to found a child care benefit company. Most of the original team at HoneyBook made the decision to leave the company and found Kinside.

Child care benefits are uncommon, and have shown little change in the past five years, despite a steady increase in services supporting new mothers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Indeed, 51% of companies offer lactation rooms, 13% offer lactation support services, and 12% offer on-ramping programs for parents returning to work.

Kinside CEO Shadiah Sigala knows how important child care benefits are to working moms.

“Child care consumes 20% of a household income,” Sigala says. “That’s more than rent in some places, it’s more than healthcare. So it was obvious to me that the employee-based system was absolutely well positioned to take up a benefit like that.”

Kinside launched in June 2018 with five pilot companies. More than a year later, Kinside has grown to several hundred company-clients that are offering their service as an employee benefit.

“We definitely hit a nerve in the marketplace,” Sigala says.

Employees taking advantage of Kinside’s services pay nothing out of pocket — anything related to Kinside is covered by the employer. Kinside’s main goal is to connect working parents with the right care needs, whether it be preschool, daycare or other services. Kinside also works out special discounts so employee parents aren’t paying exorbitant child care fees.

Employers offering the Kinside benefit are seeing positive results.

Michael Nusimow, CEO of DrChrono — an electronic health records system — and his wife welcomed their first child last year and experienced some of the pain points of child care. DrChrono took a closer look at its benefits offering and realized there were no programs beyond the traditional family leave policies. They turned to Kinside to bridge the gap, says Lindsay Donhoff, senior director of people and culture at DrChrono.

“We knew we wanted to find a partner that would save our employees time and prioritize the care of their families and were thrilled to be introduced to Kinside,” Donhoff says. “Their white glove concierge service allows our employees to spend less time worrying about child care and more quality time with their families.”

The two companies connected through a Y-Combinator network, and now about 15% of DrChrono employees are taking advantage of the benefit.

“They’ve all had great things to say about Kinside,” Donhoff says. “Our team loves having a resource for their parenting needs and it’s wonderful to partner with a company that takes such great care of our people.”

About 40% of women will exit the workforce after they have their first child, Sigala says. About 75% of them say a top reason they leave has to due with child care needs. Kinside wants to be a solution to that problem, making it so parents don’t have to choose between child care and work.

“We’re a mission driven company and we believe in a society where child care and the care of family members is valued by all,” Sigala says. “We believe in elevating the role of caretakers in the workplace. We see a very real future where the employer-based system is actually helping to move us toward a society with universal access to child care.