These Victoria founders support your child's early years

Plus, the latest local innovations to understand our oceans.


Welcome to this week’s Midweek Memo, brought to you by Easly. In this issue, meet the Victoria moms supporting the early years of development through technology, learn about an opportunity for startup founders and investors, and listen to a podcast featuring a notable bootstrapped Victoria founder.

-Allison, @allisongacad

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Making early childhood learning accessible with Earlybird

Sarah Hunter (left) and Renée Jordan (right), co-founders of Earlybird.

Sarah Hunter and Renée Jordan built the app they wished they had. The two Victoria mothers found a significant gap in support when it came to their children’s development before the age of five.

“Unlike schooling from K to 12, from zero to five — these early years, as we call them — are totally unregulated,” said Hunter. “Every child has a vastly different experience.”

The two co-founded Earlybird, an early childhood education tech company, merging Jordan’s domain expertise as a curriculum designer and Hunter’s business acumen.

Earlybird began as a web-based activity library using evidence-based materials Jordan developed. But users were looking for more convenience. Taking that feedback into account, the two launched an app thanks to a loan from Vancity, which is now available for both iPhone and Android.

“Many parents [of zero- to five-year-olds] send their kids to daycares and [childcare] centres, but there's no way of knowing what materials they're using, and if they are building foundational skills,” said Hunter. “What we're saying is, ‘If you use our materials, your kids are going to be learning all of the development skills in all of the developmental domains.’”

The app features a developmental milestone tracker, where users can see where their child should be in terms of skills and abilities. Users can check off their progress, and the app can recommend activities or resources that will build the skill, if needed.

Earlybird’s latest feature is “ask an expert”, where users can ask questions about their child’s development. The team will relay the question to a professional who will respond over email.

“Telemedicine has really taken off, but there really isn't anything for these other experts, like occupational therapy, speech therapists, play therapists, and pediatricians,” said Hunter. “So we'll see what the reception is there.”

Earlybird has bootstrapped its growth to date and is looking for angel investment to accelerate its expansion, including new features. The app has about 1,300 downloads and a five percent conversion rate from free to premium users, in comparison to the app store’s average of one to two percent.


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📰 More Victoria innovation news

🎤 For startups and investors: Earlybird is hosting a pitch event in Victoria and is looking for startups who are raising money, as well as keen investors. Interested startups and investors can get in touch with Sarah.

🐙 For ocean creature enthusiasts: Along with his colleagues, Xavier Mouy — a recent PhD graduate from the University of Victoria — has devised a low-cost, portable audio-visual system that records the range of acoustics fish produce, as well as determining what creature makes which sound. Keep reading in Capital Daily.

🚨 For coastal navigators: MarineLabs, a wind and wave data provider, launched its CoastAware BuoyCam, an ocean camera data product that provides subscribers access to 360-degree real-time views through images from sensor locations along coastlines. Learn more about the product.

📈 For bootstrapped founders: Ania Wysocka, founder of Rootd, spoke about the app’s growth and bootstrapped journey in an interview with Evan McCann on his podcast, The Hard Part. Listen to the feature here.


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🕴️ Tech jobs of the week

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