Ex realestate.com.au COO talks about his new childcare search platform, Toddle
Arthur Charlaftis saw a unique opportunity within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, to use his personal experiences of managing an ECEC centre and the knowledge he had developed in his role as COO of realestate.com.au to create a platform which enables ECEC operators to present the very best of their centres to parents who are looking for early learning and care for their children in an efficient, fun and effective way.
We spoke with founder and CEO Arthur Charlaftis, about what inspired him to create Toddle and how it is helping both services and families connect.
What is Toddle?
“Toddle helps parents find the right early learning and care centre for them and their children by providing a more comprehensive overview of what makes that centre unique,” explained Mr Charlaftis. “A parent types in the name of their suburb, and all of the centres in that area will come up.”
“From there, they can view the centre, read reviews, see photos, check out what programs are on offer, make a shortlist, and even book a tour.”
How and why did you come up with Toddle?
“My background really put me in the perfect position for this concept,” said Mr Charlaftis. “Being a parent myself and a former child care centre operator with my wife Effie, I understand both operators and families needs and wants.”
“My role as COO of realestate.com.au also meant that I had a good understanding of the digital landscape as well as building rich immersive experiences. What I could see was the comprehensiveness and content available digitally to help families choose an early childhood education and care centre was not on par with other sectors in the marketplace” Mr Charlaftis said.
“As a result, parents were being forced to use inefficient and inadequate sources to determine their shortlist of centres and centres weren’t able to showcase their services as well as they should be able to. “
How will Toddle shake up the sector?
“I truly want to revolutionise the search experience for parents,” explained Mr Charlaftis. “It’s so difficult for them to get all the information that they need from a myriad of different centres and manage that information effectively.”
“With Toddle, everything they need is in one place. They can shortlist their favourite centres and from all the information provided can then make the best and most informed decision on the most appropriate education and care for their child.”
“What makes Toddle different is that we are changing the way parents search for education and care by displaying the experience from a child’s perspective. The nature of early learning and care has shifted from being a necessity for parents into a vital step for a child’s development and learning.”
“It’s not ‘child-minding’, it’s part of the education system for children in the years before they start school. And parents these days really do expect individualised education and care with a wide variety of programs available for children to participate in.”
How can Toddle help a centre promote themselves as a brand?
“There’s an opportunity to lift the quality of content available to parents and allow centres to tell their own story in an innovative way. Toddle provides a better way for centres to showcase what makes them unique and our goal is to market not only centres, but the sector as a whole.”
“At Toddle we’re trying to help parents who are searching for education and care, understand digitally what the centre feels like, the ethos and what it has to offer.”
“Parents want to know what the facilities are like and what programs are on offer for their children such as yoga classes, Spanish lessons, or outdoor excursions to the local library or museum. Understanding what’s included helps parents make an informed decision about price as well as convenience of location.”
“That is why Toddle was created and we do it better than anyone else in the market.”
How can Toddle ease the process for child care centres and operators?
“With our easy to use platform, we can really help centres build content to help market themselves,” said Mr Charlaftis.
“Our team can coordinate content creation, including copy, photography and high-quality video. We can help them shape their brand and identify who they are and what they stand for. We can drive hot leads directly to their inbox, making acquisition easier for them.”
“Toddle makes it easy for a centre to be found amidst the clutter of choice, and help them stand out from the crowd.”
How do you see the child care sector changing over the next few months?
“The last few months has really made us all value and appreciate child care educators even more,” said Mr Charlaftis. “They play an essential part in child development and learning and they can’t be taken for granted. They really keep our economy moving.”
“I know many centres are still not at the capacity that they want to be. I think child care operators will need to consider using marketing as a tool to get on the front foot, drive growth, and build the industry up to the level it deserves to be.”
“ECEC centre operators can view and claim their listing on Toddle here, and update Toddle with any changes to their operating hours, fees, and programs.”
Why now for Toddle?
“I think now more than ever, parents are understanding the importance of education during their child’s formative years,” said Mr Charlaftis. “They see the value of early education and care as a way to give their child a great start in life.”
“There was a big shift in the operating environment which I believe created an opportunity for a service like Toddle. In 2012, child care centres were operating at a capacity rate of 95 per cent and then in 2018-2019, this reduced to around 75 per cent.”
“This dynamic meant that whilst we were still seeing increases in female participation rates in the workplace, and generally more children going to care – there was still more supply than demand.”
“For the centres, this environment raises the importance of having a strong digital presence, so Toddle basically filled that gap by creating an opportunity for them to market themselves, and their high quality services, to parents who are looking for education and care for their children but have lots of options to choose from.”
To learn more about Toddle please click here.