Ari Last: Bubble Is The UK’s Biggest On-Demand Childcare App

August 24, 2022

Bubble is the UK’s biggest on-demand childcare app. Thousands of parents use us to book amazing, trusted childcare when they need it.

We empower parents to be all they need to be, by making finding great childcare safe, easy and flexible. We also help our incredible community of sitters meet more families and earn more money, securely and on their own terms.

Tell us about yourself?

Bubble was a fusion of my work and personal life coming together. I’d spent eight years working for brilliant marketplace companies – Betfair & MarketInvoice. I then started having kids (I’ve got three now) and instantly felt the pain of trying to find reliable childcare, especially at short notice.

I’d seen first hand, and worked on building, brilliant marketplace products in Gambling and FinTech – and felt that childcare was a sector desperate for something innovative and new.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Focus on the things you can control. Don’t stress about the things you can’t.

What problem does your business solve?

I’d say we help parents solve the biggest pain point in their daily lives – childcare. Not having access to it is utterly debilitating; socially, emotionally and work-wise too.

Not being able to find childcare is a problem that I find is easily trivialised from the outside. But when you’re living it, it can be the be all and end all. Bubble genuinely changes the lives of our users and we’re so proud of that.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

My own experience as a parent inspired the business. It took about two minutes after becoming a dad to realise that parenting is extremely tough!

And not long after, I realised a lack of support and a lack of accessible childcare is the root of most of the stress. It was a problem I experienced acutely – and pretty much every other parent I knew.

What is your magic sauce?

We approached our problem in an entirely new way to traditional industry. We use social data to connect parents to the sitters in their community whom their friends already know, use and trust.

We’ve taken that very simple but most valued dynamic of personal recommendation, and brought it to a parent’s fingertips in our app.

Social validation – knowing that other parents love and trust a particular carer is the most important trust-marker that parents look out for when considering who to use for their own kids. This is what we enable in our app and what makes us so different.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Childcare in the UK especially is entirely broken. Parents spend 30% of their disposable income on childcare, but the true solutions available to them are few and far between.

Over the next five years we aim to establish ourselves as the pre-eminent childcare brand in the UK – and beyond. We’ve also got a raft of new products in the pipeline geared towards improving the lives of the parents in our community.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Covid was obviously a major challenge for us. We’re a business that typically relies on A: people going out and B: having someone else in their home whilst doing it. Two things that were largely off the table for the best part of two years.

What we learned during Covid though was just how vital a utility Bubble was for our users.

We had working parents turning to the platform to help with home-schooling, and we also launched a voluntary NHS service that allowed Doctors, Nurses and others to find free childcare so that they could get to their shifts on the front line.

More than 10,000 hours of childcare were requested by those working in the NHS during the pandemic. It was a cause our whole team was able to rally behind, and gave us a lot of meaning and satisfaction during what was otherwise a tough time.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We’re interested in speaking to:

  • Phenomenal people who like solving hard problems and having real impact.
  • Companies who want to better support their staff with amazing childcare and parental support
  • Other service providers interested in partnerships – where they think that supporting their own audiences with amazing childcare access would be a value-add

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