Like many working parents, Tracey Blake and James Pinniger were finding that balancing the demands of career and childcare required a constant juggling act.
A chance encounter with a local art student – whose timetable could flex around the couple’s childcare needs – not only provided them with a family-friendly solution, but also sparked the idea for a whole new business.
Tracey and James, who are both Bournemouth University multimedia journalism graduates, launched Student Nannies last year. The business aims to connect a network of local student babysitters with families in need of term-time and holiday childcare.
Tracey, who worked in features journalism for the Daily Mail and Metro before turning entrepreneur, said: “As parents of two young children we knew first-hand the difficulties that working parents face. Once our eldest child started school, we needed someone who could do the school pick up and then look after our children for a few hours until we got home. Professional nannies aren’t interested in doing just three hours a day, and most child minders don’t want to work beyond 5pm, so we had a problem.
“After putting out an advert and finding a wonderful art student who could cover the hours we needed, we realised that this was an untapped resource. We also felt it was one which lots of other working parents could benefit from.”
Tracey – who describes herself as an accidental entrepreneur – has now given up her journalism career to focus full time on developing Student Nannies. She said: “It was never really my intention to run my own business. But I guess like a lot of people, it came as a result of seeing a problem and wanting to do something about it. I really didn’t see that it should be that difficult for parents to work and provide good childcare for their kids. As you get more immersed in the entrepreneurial world, you understand that it is all about having a ‘minimal viable product’ and getting out to market while recognising that it will adapt as you grow. The last couple of years have been a steep learning curve, but really enjoyable too and it’s great to see the business growing.”
Tracey and James are looking to develop Student Nannies in their old university town of Bournemouth. Students and families can find out more at studentnannies.com.