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Innovation & Job News

District-based online childcare marketplace expands nationally

CareLuLu, an online curated directory for daycare and preschools, has gone national.

The site, which allows parents to search for the perfect daycare or preschool for their children, formerly only displayed childcare centers and preschools that had filled out a profile--roughly 300 to 400 centers, or five percent of the D.C. market, cofounder Patrick Matos says.

He and his team realized that providing only full-profile centers wasn't serving parents, so they expanded the directory.

"We had a lot of parents coming to our site, and we didn't have enough options," Matos explains. "Childcare has to be near your home. So we launched a nationwide directory. It's much more basic than the [full profile]—it has a center's name, contact information, hours of operation, and the ages of the children it serves." With the addition of the directory, CareLuLu has 200,000 providers on its site, with approximately 5,000 to 10,000 in the greater D.C. area. Full profiles--and premium placement--are still, for now, only available in the D.C. area, but now a mom in Los Angeles can search the basic directory just as easily as a dad in Dupont Circle.

The company was founded "out of necessity" by Matos and Evgeniya Usmanova, a husband-and-wife team with two small daughters, in August 2013 and is currently based out of 1776.
"We collect all the data for parents, including photos and costs, and combine them into a user-friendly platform," Matos explains. "Instead of spending hours online, you can do a personalized search and quickly find the perfect daycare or preschool for your family, based on what is important to your family."
CareLuLu is free for parents to use and follows a freemium model for schools and centers. Schools and centers pay between $9 and $49 for an expanded listing and premium placement on CareLulu's site.  "Lots of centers join CareLuLu for free and get to know us and then upgrade their membership," Matos says.
Matos says he wants to launch CareLuLu in other metro areas, and that the directory will help the team figure out where to go next. "We're looking to add three cities this year," he says. Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are strong contenders, but, "it will depend on the directory. If we see other cities showing activity, we'll reconsider."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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