Hi! My name is Becka Klauber Richter. I am the co-founder and president of Helpr, a software platform that employers use to subsidize caregiving services for their employees.
Employees use our platform to arrange backup care for childcare gaps, primary care consulting, academic support, or in a pandemic, virtual learning. Using Helpr’s app, employees arrange the care they need and get their caregivers - even if they are family and friends - paid for the caregiving they do.
My co-founder and I started this business because we’ve always gravitated to the family space - we’ve been managing care brands for the past 15 years together. There’s a lack of infrastructure for childcare in our country, and we have seen firsthand that caregiving is the backbone of an equitable, compassionate, and joyful society. I’m passionate about supporting families and caregivers and find my purpose in creating and fostering community.
Right now at Helpr we’re helping families navigate life under COVID-19. Foremost in many people’s minds is figuring out the online and in-person assistance that allows a parent to work but keeps both the caregiver and family safe. Creative home-based childcare solutions are in high demand and Helpr can fulfill family needs both here in the US and abroad - our platform is currently available in over 25 countries!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been drawn to caregiving for most of my life. I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a large family. Being the eldest of 23 cousins meant that babies and younger children were always in my sphere. I gravitated to nannying in college which is where I began to understand how truly essential caregivers are, and how little structure and honor has been given to the caregiving business. My co-founder and I wanted to take our experiences and implement them into a business model that would be accessible to families of all economic levels.
Caregiving has historically been an undervalued space in American society, despite all other industries being dependent on it. Statistics suggest the average parent in the United States misses eight workdays per year to fill childcare gaps. But when you break down the numbers, you discover that women are much more frequently bearing the burden of these last-minute childcare needs that arise (the same statistic but for women reveals 14 to 16 days of lost work per year). Helpr can assist all parents to balance work and family life, but given the disproportionate share of childcare that falls on women’s shoulders, we’ve made it our mission to help to change that formula.
Helpr is different from other care organizations because my co-founder and I started as caregivers ourselves. We apply our years of expertise to delineate between market trends and market needs. We solve real problems vs. asserting our own agenda. Being that we’re global, organizations can implement us for their international workforces as opposed to using a multiple vendor approach.
We’ve also found ourselves ready to solve a huge problem the global pandemic has given rise to school and daycare closures. Helpr has worked hard to answer the growing needs of families as schools remain virtual during the pandemic. We are very proud to offer a strong virtual program that keeps kids learning, playing, and engaged, as well as in-home care as many of us, continue to shelter at home.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My tip for any new entrepreneurs starting is to find your “why.” This underlying passion has been critical for sustaining and guiding me on this journey. The products and services we create and offer as entrepreneurs don't exist in a vacuum. Finding your passion and connecting it back to the needs of the world can propel you through seasons of doubt and hardship.
As you journey forward in your own business ventures, remember that your passions are critical for the longevity of your business, but equally as important is your ability to be flexible and move with whatever curve ball life may throw.
During my time creating and building this company, I have learned to have both wild optimism and a grounded perspective. There may be times when the future and success of the company seem tethered to one deal or one person. Remembering that no one person holds the keys to you and your company’s success liberates you from the mindset that you are one wrong move away from failing. Trust your team, trust yourself, and trust that your passion and vision for what you are creating will guide you towards positive outcomes.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Some of our favorite platforms and tools to use are Slack and Carta.
Slack helps us communicate across teams and provides a space for brainstorming, ideas, and discussion that can all be separated according to theme or project.
Carta is another team favorite. Carta “helps companies and investors manage their cap tables, valuations, investments, and equity plans.” Both have been wonderful assets that have helped propel our company forward.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
One book that I'd recommend to people trying to better understand the family landscape in our country is called Our Kids by Robert Putnam. It examines the growing inequality gap in this country and breaks down the idea that all kids, regardless of background, have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. This central tenet of the American dream is presently much less true than it may have been in the past. Books like these are important for me in understanding how to serve families' needs better. They also help create an understanding of what role caregiving plays in your life and your family’s life.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Be flexible! My journey thus far has been guided by vision, innovation, and passion. But no matter how detailed your plans may be, something completely unexpected can happen. As you journey forward in your own business ventures, remember that your passions are critical for the longevity of your business, but equally as important is your ability to be flexible and move with whatever curve ball life may throw.
As I step into this new season with my company and team, I know that our innovative approaches and flexibility could lead to unimagined successes and advantages - not just for us, but for families everywhere. Allow yourself to be flexible so that you and your company can withstand events that you never dreamed you’d face.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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