Sawyer Raises Another 11M to Ensure Your Kids Are Not Bored This

first_imgPREVIOUS POSTNEXT POST Finding activities to keep your children entertained shouldn’t feel like a part-time job, but all too often parents struggle to find activities or classes that truly engage their children. Sawyer is the online marketplace that’s being used by over 100,000 parents to discover local children’s activities. The platform offers a breadth of choices, focused on providing out-of-school education to round out your child’s interests and passions in a flexible-mobile first service. From art classes, music lessons, to even a week-long summer camp, Sawyer attacks a $50B market for extracurricular activities that’s been long dominated by subscriptions models and fragmentation.  The company processed $20M in parent spending in 2018 and is live in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.AlleyWatch sat down with founder and CEO Marissa Evans Alden to learn more about the company’s origin, future plans to incorporate more intelligence and data onto the platform, and the company’s latest round of funding, which brings its total funding to $18.5M.Who were your investors and how much did you raise? Our investors were Advance Venture Partners, Notation Capital, Collaborative, V1VC, among others.This was a series A1 raising $11M.Tell us about the product or service that Sawyer offers.Sawyer is an innovative online marketplace used by over 100,000 parents to discover an entire world of children’s activities outside the classroom. Our platform connects parents to hundreds of enriching activities and programs for their children right in their own neighborhood, making out-of-school education more accessible than ever at a click of a button. Existing as a subscription-free, mobile-first platform, we pride ourselves on helping the parents of aspiring young artists, engineers, musicians, scientists, chefs, yogis and more, find activities their kids will love.How is Sawyer different?Our unique selling point is our inventory strategy – the SaaS product that providers use to run their businesses also updates their listings on the marketplace is in real-time, so parents never have to worry about booking a class that might be cancelled or filled.What market does Sawyer target and how big is it?What many people don’t know is that the out-of-school learning market is almost double the size of the fitness space – parents are spending nearly $50B per year on extracurricular activities for their kids.With this in mind, the Sawyer marketplace is for parents of children aged 0-17. We do find that there is a higher-demand for activities for kids under 8-years-old. In fact, 70% of the child profiles on Sawyer are under 8.What is the business model?The business model for Sawyer is different from other children’s activities booking platforms because we do not operate on a subscription basis. Our marketplace is an à la carte service, meaning parents can book as many classes from as many providers as they want for their kids at their own leisure – whether that’s a drop-in open play, a semester-long Spanish course, or a week-long summer camp. In addition, we also operate our backend technology infrastructure, Sawyer Tools for providers. We collect fees on our software products in order for folks to use the services.What inspired the start of Sawyer?In 2015, I was working at Rent The Runway and met Stephanie Choi (Sawyer cofounder & COO). She had recently become a mom and was juggling a high-powered career in tandem with the demands of parenthood. She was getting increasingly frustrated with trying to find fun and enriching activities for her little one – she just didn’t have time to spend hours on Google or make phone call after phone call to potential providers during the work day when they were open and have to write and deliver a check!It seemed crazy that we have all of these on-demand services designed to save us time like Uber, Postmates, and Instacart, but nothing to solve this problem for parents. It just didn’t level up with how we were living the rest of our lives. When we realized we weren’t the only ones, we decided to build it.How has tech in NYC changed since you launched your first company here?When I started my first company almost a decade ago, New York was nowhere near the tech mecca that it is today. I remember an early group of folks from Foursquare and Gilt that were really pushing the envelope and starting to put New York on par with Silicon Valley as a place to start a company. Since then, it has exploded. There’s been such a great community that has come from those early years alongside an amazing venture and incubator culture.What was the funding process like?Like most fundraises, it was intense! It is an opportunity to know your business inside and out, and helps you focus on core health metrics.What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?Sawyer has many interesting business components.  It is a SaaS product, a payments business, a marketplace business, and a brand. Finding folks who really understand those four layers is rare, so the business can seem complex.What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?The software is truly an amazing product that providers love. This industry is in deep need of transformation and our investors understand that. Parents are spending $50B on out of school learning each year – and that’s offline and in checks – so it is clear our investors see the opportunity.What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?We’ve recently brought on new talent focused on building data intelligence and personalization into the platform. If we can take the same principles that have been applied to music, food delivery, and shopping experiences, imagine what we could do for parents? Our vision is to take the guesswork out of decisions for your children’s out-of-school learning, and building smart, data-driven products is a huge part of that. We’re still in the early stages of developing this, but it’s a massive focus for us for the next six months and beyond.We’ve recently brought on new talent focused on building data intelligence and personalization into the platform. If we can take the same principles that have been applied to music, food delivery, and shopping experiences, imagine what we could do for parents? Our vision is to take the guesswork out of decisions for your children’s out-of-school learning, and building smart, data-driven products is a huge part of that. We’re still in the early stages of developing this, but it’s a massive focus for us for the next six months and beyond.We’re also looking to bring Sawyer to parents outside our current markets (New York, LA, Chicago) within the year.What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?Find a business partner that you’ve worked with before. My current cofounders and I all worked together before starting Sawyer and that has been a huge help as we speak the same language and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?Jenny Mollen! She’s a mom to two young kids in NYC and a great writer. She has a great perspective on being a busy parent… Hopefully, she would use and love Sawyer!Why did you launch in New York?I moved to NYC 11 years ago right after business school, because frankly, there’s nowhere else like it. There’s a huge sense of momentum in New York that you just don’t get anywhere else. Everyone who’s here is here for a reason. Additionally, now my network is here, and I think it is one of the best places to be a woman CEO and founder!What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?My current go-to is Celestine in Dumbo! Sawyer Raises Another $11M to Ensure Your Kids Are Not Bored This SummerMay 21, 2019 by AlleyWatch 407SHARESFacebookTwitterLinkedincenter_img Filed Under: #NYCTech, AlleyTalk, Education, Funded in the Alley, Funded in the Alley, Funding, Funding News, Interviews, Startups, Techs and the City, Venture Capitallast_img

Leave a Reply