By Riley Kaminer
The early childhood education system in the US is broken. The costs are sky high: upwards of $30,000 annually per child. Meanwhile, the average pay for childhood educators comes in at even less than that, or around $27,000 per year in Florida. While evidence suggests that free public child care and pre-k is both popular and affordable, government plans for universal pre-k have been repeatedly stalled.
Emma Harris and Melissa Tran are acutely aware of these issues. And in response, the two entrepreneurs have co-founded a startup working to directly combat the issue of education for children from six weeks old through to pre-k.
EarlyDay – which is based in Miami, where Harris lives – is a two-sided marketplace for early career educators. Schools post job opportunities on the website. Educators can respond to these job postings, or simply create a profile on the website and let the employers reach out to them directly.
“Most educators do not have LinkedIn, so we’re becoming a go-to place of record for their resumes,” Harris told Refresh Miami.
“At EarlyDay, we’re committed to empowering those who educate our youngest learners and keep our economy running,” Tran added. “We’re doing this by providing these educators with what they need to navigate the complexities and challenges of the job search process, making accessible the information and guidance needed for their career progression, and bringing transparency to the currently opaque salary and compensation information available in the market.”
Staff retention and turnover can majorly hurt schools’ bottom lines, and sourcing educators from staffing agencies means that schools end up paying up to three times over market value.
Teachers play a key role in the early childhood education space from a business perspective, explained Tran. “There are very strict regulations around how many teachers you need to run a classroom and also who qualifies to be an early education teacher,” she explained. “After speaking with hundreds of owners, we knew we needed to build a solution that makes it easier and faster for them to staff up and open classrooms.”
Last July, EarlyDay closed a $1M pre-seed round from investors including Miami-based Pareto, ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman, FJ Labs, Looking Glass Capital, Duro Ventures, Hyphen Capital, and SuperAngel.Fund.
Harris and Tran first worked together at fitness studio platform GuavaPass in Bangkok in 2014. The platform quickly scaled to 17 markets around Asia and the Middle East, before being acquired by ClassPass in 2019.
By that point, Harris was back in the US. The native New Yorker had decided to put down roots in Miami and be close to her husband’s family. When she arrived here in early 2019, it was by no means the tech hub it is today. “I would go and work at all the coffee shops in Miami, and I couldn’t find anyone else working on their laptops.”
But eventually she came across the Local Leaders Collective, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs together. That, coupled with the recent rise in #MiamiTech, has made Harris feel at home. “Tech is really happening here,” she said. “It feels like every week is Miami Tech Week.”
Harris signaled that EarlyDay, which currently has a fully-distributed team of nine employees, is planning to raise a seed round towards the end of May. The startup, which has a fully-distributed team of nine employees, has launched in New York, with plans to soon expand into new markets across the US. “There is so much opportunity for us to scale,” said Harris. “It’s an exciting time for Melissa and me because entering into new markets is what we really like to do and know how to do well.”
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