As a new mom, midway through a move, frustrated over inflexible childcare options, our NJMOMpreneur of the week Jen Greenspan decided to create a solution for a problem she knew she wasn’t the only one experiencing. Just like that, her innovative app, Yaycare was born. This genius idea allows parents to look for, book and pay for open childcare spots, whether in advance or in a last-minute pinch – talk about a total #momwin! We’re loving how Jen is aiming to make parents’ lives easier through her groundbreaking business while embracing that in both business and life, baby steps are still positive progress and something to be celebrated. We sat down with this Scotch Plains mom to talk about her transformative idea, how she likens entrepreneurship to a flying trapeze (she’s done both!) and her favorite foodie spots around the state (Jersey City, we’re looking at you).
featured image via Lauren Anzevino LLC
Founder of Yaycare & NJMOMpreneur Jen Greenspan
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?Jen: The Yaycare app instantly connects parents with licensed daycares and preschools, allowing parents to search, book and pay for open spots at top-rated childcare centers. We’re like the OpenTable of childcare. Use Yaycare to book flexible childcare, backup care, and camps for school breaks for kids 0-12. Or use Yaycare to test out different childcare programs before choosing one! You can book for just one day or up to two weeks at a time, and some centers even allow you to book same-day spots (for those true childcare emergencies)! Yaycare is unique because it’s the first app to let you book flexible childcare at top-rated daycares and preschools. We are proud to work with partners like Lightbridge Academy, Kiddie Academy, Kinderprep and Superkids. Our app is free to download and free to join, so you only pay when you actually book a spot.
If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, go for it! There will most likely be many highs and lows along your entrepreneurial journey, but believe in yourself and remind yourself why you started your business in the first place.” – NJMOMpreneur Jen Greenspan
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Jen: I was inspired to create Yaycare after the birth of my daughter, Olivia. When my maternity leave ended, my husband and I were living in Jersey City and in the process of building a house in Scotch Plains that was inevitably delayed for months. We tried finding temporary childcare at a daycare center and found the entire process painful, frustrating and archaic. I thought, why are there on-demand apps for seemingly everything, but not daycare? So I set out to create a platform that would safely and easily connect parents in need of childcare with childcare centers that have open spots. My hope is that no mom will have to spend hours on the phone trying to find an open spot at daycare ever again.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Jen: My favorite part about my business is that I’m creating a product that will make parents’ lives easier and hopefully transform the childcare landscape. I’ve also really enjoyed working with daycare owners to better understand the childcare industry and create a product that fits their needs. Most daycare owners are parents themselves, and their feedback on Yaycare has been overwhelmingly positive.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Jen: Before Yaycare I spent 15 years working in advertising sales and marketing in the kids and parenting space, first for Nickelodeon and then for The Bump. During my tenure at Nickelodeon, I took a break to get my MBA, where I focused on digital media, technology, and entrepreneurship.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Jen: I’m most proud that this sleep-deprived new mom took her crazy idea and turned it into a real business! Taking the leap was scary, but I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t try.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Jen: I was a competitive gymnast growing up. After moving to New York City after college, I tried a trapeze class at Trapeze School New York and was instantly hooked! The flying trapeze is such a rush, but once I got pregnant I knew my trapeze days were behind me. Maybe that’s why I became an entrepreneur?!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Jen: Yaycare’s pilot program just launched in Union County, but we’re looking to expand quickly and hope to be available in the entire state of New Jersey by the end of 2019. Personally, I want to continue to spend quality time with my family and make sure I’m there for all the important moments, big and small.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Jen: As an undergrad at Penn State I was very involved with THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. THON raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which helps to support families with children battling cancer as well as life-saving cancer research. During the fundraising process, students get to know the children and families battling cancer, and it all culminates in a 46-hour dance marathon (no sitting and no sleeping!). Now that I’m a parent, this cause has become even more meaningful to me. We’re currently brainstorming ways that Yaycare can be involved in kids causes we care about, like THON.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Jen: I’m so lucky to have so many incredible women (and men!) in my life. First, my parents, who taught me the importance of family, generosity and a good work ethic. My mom was a stay at home mom (and former music teacher), but she was very entrepreneurial. She taught piano and violin lessons out of our house and built up quite a client base. My husband started an advertising agency over seven years ago and he continues to inspire me every day. I’ve also been fortunate to have many mom friends and mentors throughout my career who have shown me that it’s possible to balance a full-time career and a family.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Jen: My parents have always encouraged me to explore my passions, take risks, trust my gut and follow my dreams. They’re my biggest cheerleaders and always support me in everything I do. From a young age, they told me I could be whatever I wanted to be if I just put my mind to it, and I’m excited to raise my daughter the same way.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
This quote really speaks to me right now, both personally and professionally. Before becoming a mom I always focused on the next big thing. After becoming a mom, I realized that all those little moments sometimes matter more than the big ones, and I’ve learned to see the beauty in our everyday routine. My business is still in its infancy, but I like to think that every baby step we take is helping us to grow bigger and stronger.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Jen: New Jersey has so much to offer families! During the summer, we do lots of day trips to the Jersey Shore and weekend visits to both the Westfield and Scotch Plains Farmer’s Markets. We always go to the State Fair Meadowlands, they have a great kids section with tons of rides. We love visiting Turtle Back Zoo and the many local farms that surround us, our favorites are Snyder’s Farm and Terhune Orchards for strawberry and blueberry picking. We also enjoy exploring all the great New Jersey downtowns (Westfield, Cranford, Summit, Princeton, Montclair, etc). We spent two years living in Jersey City, so we love to visit/eat our way through the city at Orale Mexican Kitchen, Mathews, Razza, Porta and Wurstbar, our favorites.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Jen: Watching Olivia grow from a tiny newborn into a curious, energetic, very opinionated toddler has seriously been the greatest joy of my life. The love you feel for your child is so powerful, it’s hard to describe. Becoming a mom has also given me a new perspective on life and made me reevaluate my priorities. I quickly realized that if I’m going to take time away from her to work, I want to be super passionate about my work.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Jen: I have so many favorites! We live five minutes from downtown Westfield and our go-to places are Addams Tavern, Limani Seafood Grill for seafood, Fiamma for pizza, Boxwood for coffee and Westfield Station Cafe for brunch. In Cranford, Dreyer Farms makes the best pies and Pairings is our favorite spot for date nights. My favorite fitness studios in Westfield are Bar Method and Club Pilates. We got married at Maritime Parc in Jersey City and go back there for special occasions – the views of Manhattan are spectacular. And we’ll still drive out of our way to get a sandwich and some “mutz” at Fiore’s in Hoboken because there is nothing else quite like it. For kids activities, we love Imagine That!!!, Giggles and the Liberty Science Center.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Jen: We’ve lived in Scotch Plains for the last one and a half years and before that we spent two years in Jersey City. I’ve been going to the Jersey Shore since before I can remember. Our favorite towns for day trips include Long Branch, Asbury Park and Point Pleasant. Growing up my family went to Diamond Beach, and now we try to all meet there once a summer for a long weekend. For those that don’t know, Diamond Beach is located at the bottom of Wildwood Crest, perfectly situated between Cape May and the Wildwood boardwalk (and super family-friendly)!
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Jen: If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, go for it! There will most likely be many highs and lows along your entrepreneurial journey, but believe in yourself and remind yourself why you started your business in the first place. Remember that success does not happen overnight. In the world of social media, it’s easy to forget that. And lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow moms for advice, feedback and support. Being a mom entrepreneur can feel isolating at times, so it definitely helps to have a support system.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Jen: If you have kids 0-12, download our free app or subscribe to our newsletter to see where we launch next. I also love meeting fellow NJ moms, so feel free to reach out to me.