A letter continued.

Poppy is a dreamer. She was born believing that better is always possible. That if you put your mind to it and work harder than anyone else, anything is achievable.

It’s why she chose childcare. Or maybe it chose her. It’s her calling, her passion, her mission.

It’s why Poppy is dedicated to solving the very real challenges that families face each day.

A year ago I never dreamed we would be where we are today. I started with my cellphone, a small personal investment and big vision. Today, it’s grown almost 100x.  I want to thank you for your support.  Without you, it would still be just me and my cellphone and a dream.

Last week we announced important changes to Poppy, including substantial price changes. Since that time, we have heard from hundreds of families.  I’ve read thousands of texts and I’ve had countless phone calls with parents.  It’s been the topic of thoughtful debate and discussion on Facebook groups and in parent forums.

I’ve heard your feedback, and it’s in two key themes:

  • You were caught off guard at how quickly the change was announced and implemented.
  • You were surprised at the amount of increase, with our infant families feeling the biggest impact.

As hard as it was to hear, I want to thank you for your feedback.  I want you to know that our small but proud team has taken a deep breath and read every word that you’ve sent us.  At least twice.

I also want you to know that we could have done a couple of things better.

First, I could have given more notice. The simple truth is that these changes have been immensely hard to make and in my haste to find the courage to do what I didn’t want to have to, I did the last thing I ever meant to do – I caught families by surprise. I apologize for that.

Secondly, and more importantly, I could have shared much earlier that what we started with was for testing and learning, and that change was just a matter of time.

Here’s why:

  1. The caregivers make us great, so Poppy needs to be great for them.
    • As parents, we have all struggled to find the right people to care for our kids. It is hard to find those special few that can care for children reliably, safely and playfully. The fact that only a tiny fraction of applicants become Poppy Certified is a testament to this. It takes a lot of effort to find them, but then also keep them – something we do by making Poppy the place where the best caregivers feel rewarded and supported for these talents.
    • Compensation a big part of this. Many families use Poppy as a flexible part-time nanny option (especially for infants) but this requires a completely different level of experience and skills than the average date night caregiver. A level that expects to make more than $16/hr. These new rates opens up our ability to bring on more of the caregivers that your families will love but that we haven’t previously been able to get.
  2. Professionalizing childcare through standards and accountability is a complex endeavor.
    • Anyone that has ever tried to find childcare on their own knows how wildly inconsistent quality and qualifications can be. We all know what it’s like to be cancelled on last minute and be left in the lurch. Poppy works behind the scenes every day to create a vastly different experience. One that is reliable, delightful and safety-obsessed. We work with caregivers to give them feedback and stock them with resources like age appropriate play ideas or CareCards. We work on our technology to create even better matches and more effective scheduling. We are always on call to respond to parent or caregiver questions or concerns. Creating this higher standard of care is a job that never stops, day in and day out.
  3. Innovating new solutions means investing in technology and exploring radically new options
    • Poppy is not another agency. Our ambition is to completely transform childcare for families though choices like PoppyPool – a coordinated nanny share where we can connect two families looking for care at the same time for similarly aged kids. Think UberPool but for childcare – the caregiver is compensated for their experience and families pay half the rate. That’s just the beginning – other programs we’re exploring are better same-day options, screened high schoolers as mother’s helpers or after-school care with nannies that drive.
    • These are complex problems that require significant investment to make a reality. Poppy is committed to bringing these solutions to you but we need to be a sustainable operation first.

For the past year we have worked to understand whether there was place and a space for this vision of childcare – one that was satisfied with nothing short of delight. One that is built on reliability and accountability.

We now know there is.

So we choose to make some hard but necessary changes to give us a chance to keep fighting for the solutions our families so desperately need and deserve. We want to build a village that will endure for you, and for your family, for years to come.

We have thought through how to address your concerns and want to:

  • Offer 2 months of complimentary membership to our existing families to address the short notice.
  • Involve you in where we’re headed.We have made our Product Roadmap public so you’re able to see what we’re working on, what we’re considering and what we’ve “shipped”. You’ll be able to sign up to test new pilots and give feedback: Poppy Product Roadmap.
  • Continue to hear your feedback – however you’d like to give it – text, Facebook, or otherwise. If possible, we’d love to talk with you.  We’ll be having weekly open houses on Tuesdays at our offices and will be as flexible as you need us to be to call/meet/listen.

Our mission at Poppy is big and it’s bold and it’s rooted in a belief. A belief that better is possible and is necessary for every one of our families.

Thank you now, more than ever, for your belief in us and that this is possible.

– avni

Letter to families.

Hi –

I’m writing to let you know about some upcoming changes for Poppy. As Poppy has grown over the past year from a little Madison Park idea serving 15 families to now a thriving Seattle-wide service serving over 1,200 families, we have learned a tremendous amount about what you value and what it takes to deliver the Poppy experience every family deserves.

In order to continue to grow with the same uncompromising service, we’ll be making some important rate and membership changes that will go into effect September 13, 2016.

First, to access and schedule Poppy’s community of screened caregivers, there will be a monthly membership fee of $8/month. As we expand offerings (eg. overnights, household help etc) this will cover access to our whole range of services.

Second, rates for caregiver services will increase to start at $20/hr for 1 child and $22/hr for 2 children. Infant care specialists will be +$4/hour for children 2–12 months (eg. $24/hr for one infant), in recognition of the special skills this role requires. Finally, nanny share arrangements will also be +$4/hr to ensure high quality service for both families.

Rates will automatically be updated for all bookings Tuesday, September 13 onwards and charged using the credit card on file. Any remaining Poppy membership will convert to the new plans at the $8/month.

We’ve learned a lot over this past year – about what it takes to find best caregivers and about what it takes to deliver exceptional service. We want to make sure we can keep doing this for years to come.

If you have questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for allowing us to serve your families over the past year. It has been a true privilege and we’re looking forward to writing this next chapter of Poppy with you.


Avni and the whole Poppy HQ team (Richerd, Sarah, Jenna, Maggie and Nik)

Poppy payments are here!

The long awaited day has arrived. Poppy is finally cash-free. Now, just like Uber, when your booking is done, your credit card will be simply and seamlessly charged.

Amazing right? Some people (many in fact), will ask, why wasn’t this done sooner? Well, first, payments are a complicated thing you want to spend some time on getting right, but the main thing was that while annoying, payments weren’t the most urgent thing in need of fixing.

Finding wonderful, qualified caregivers and figuring out an efficient way to match them to families was the more pressing puzzle to noodle on.

And now that we’ve made a sizable dent in that and grown to a respectable size, we’ve realized that payments is now the most broken thing. The challenges of hundreds of families having to run to ATMs or fish out check books each week, the trials of caregivers mistakenly being underpaid or being forgotten to be paid, the awkwardness of having to figure out names and sums and details….

Painful. Now over.

As of today, you’ll simply connect your credit card. Once your booking is complete you’ll see the amount to be charged based on the actual time worked and you’ll be given the chance to round up or add a bit extra if warranted. That’s it.

Imagine that. A night out, or errand run or the end of a busy day. Now you can greet your caregiver, run to the kids and focus on the next thing. No pesky details to worry about.

If you have any questions at all, check out this FAQ or just drop me a line: avni@poppyteam.com. In the meantime, we hope helps make your life just that much simpler.

Poppy’s recipes of the week

Happy Monday parents! Another week, another set of meals to plan. And if you’re like us, you could use all the help you can get.

That’s why we had Poppy caregiver and culinary school graduate, Marisa, come up with 5 easy recipes that are as delicious as they are nutritious.

Try one or try them all and hopefully it makes this week just that much easier.

  1. Apple Cookies
  2. Chia Coconut Pudding Pops
  3. Cheesy Chicken Taquitos
  4. Baked Parmesan Zucchini
  5. Quinoa Pizza Bites

Get the recipes here: PoppyRecipesJuly24th

Poppy’s humble beginnings

Poppy was never supposed to be a business.

It was never supposed to be a venture backed, technology startup.

It was the thing I was curious about while I figured out what my next career move was after my first failed startup.

Poppy was my personal attempt to figure out an issue that had plagued me and my friends for years. Nothing more or less.

Although, I guess if I had to be honest, I’ve always had this curiosity around “village”. What creates it, what sustains it, what feeds it.

Continue reading “Poppy’s humble beginnings”

Raising a healthy eater

Marisa Kerkvliet is a Poppy caregiver and a talented culinary student. Her passion for food developed early on as she grew up on her family’s small farm. When she was nine she found her love for cooking and has been in the kitchen ever since. As a picky eater herself, Marisa now has a passion for introducing healthy eating habits to the next generation. She will be finishing up her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts degree from Bastyr University this spring before she moves on to earn a Master’s degree in Nutrition.

Here are her Top 10 Tips for raising a healthy eater.

  1. Enjoy family meals at the table. They should last for at least 30 minutes. Keep conversations pleasant and save tense topics for another time to allow the focus to be on the food and family. Children learn how and what to eat by watching others.
  2. Get kids involved in their food. Plant a garden together or let them pick out a vegetable at the grocery store. Choose age appropriate kitchen tasks to help give children a purpose. The more they help, the more they will eat!
  3. Schedule snack time to be consistent every day. Three meals and one snack may be adequate for school age children, while toddlers may need to eat every 2-3 hours. Designate a snacking zone and serve food at a table as much as possible.
  4. Limit snack time to less than 2o minutes. Remove any uneaten food when the snack is over and offer it again at the next planned meal or snack.
  5. Give notice before a meal. Let children know 10-15 minutes before food will be served to help them prepare and settle down before eating.
  6. Limit distractions by removing toys, books and turning off the TV. This allows the child to focus on their food and they may be more likely to try more new foods.
  7. Serve small portions, only a few tablespoons of each food, usually 2-3 types. It gives children a sense of independence to finish their plate and ask for more. Follow the general rule of 1 tablespoon of each food for each year of the child’s age, or a portion that is the size of their palm.
  8. Maintain a neutral attitude at the table. Avoid being overly animated or becoming angry towards food. Giving a child a few gentle reminders to take bites of their food can be appropriate. Encourage independent feeding and allow age-appropriate mess to occur.
  9. Serve familiar foods with new foods. Ensure there is always a nutritious food that is liked by each child at the table. This allows for the exploration of new foods without the fear of malnourishment.
  10. Keep trying. Kids often need to be exposed to a food 10-20 times before they begin to accept it. Be patient with toddlers as it takes time for them to develop their tastes. Employ the 2 bite rule for older children to encourage giving new foods a fair chance. 

Learn more at our Raising a Healthy Eater seminar

On Sunday, June 5 from 6:30-7:30pm at Poppy HQ in Ballard, Marisa will discuss the ins and outs of eating habits throughout childhood. The main topics include the challenges of having a picky eater, the reasons a child may be picky, and strategies for parents to help children overcome unhealthy eating habits. Walk away with new insight on your child’s eating behavior, an introductory recipe packet and additional resources to help create a peaceful dinner table in your home. Marisa will provide light samples of some of her top kid-approved recipes.

Only 15 spots so sign up and buy tickets ($5) here: Workshop tickets


Additional Reading and Resources

  • Board Books for toddlers and preschoolers
    • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
    • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carlie
    • The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons
  • Picture Books for school age children
    • Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Zoehfeld
    • Sylvia’s Spinach by Katherine Pryor
    • How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? By Chris Butterworth
  • Parent Resources

On the mission to earn trust.

How can I trust this person with my most precious anything?

This is the question we obsess about every day. Every minute.

It’s the most fundamental question any parent has when considering childcare. Whether it’s a daycare or a nanny or a babysitter or even school.

I know because it’s the main question my husband and I have asked countless times in our search for our village, in the absence of living close to our families.

It’s one of the hardest questions out there and one of the toughest problems to solve.

The first part has to do with finding the very best, most qualified people. The second part is figuring out how to make this person not a stranger, but someone who is known.

For the first part of the challenge, we focus on where we can find the best people – referrals, childcare networks, preschools etc. Our rigorous vetting process then makes sure even these very qualified people can meet our even higher standards.

And it’s not only about the basics, like clean background checks or CPR/First Aid. It’s about going much deeper into the motivations and situational experiences each candidate has. We learn this through a detailed applications, multiple interviews and thorough reference checks.

Having done it hundreds of times, we’ve been quickly able to build up the expertise to see the who is the real deal vs someone just looking for a job.

But now actually comes the harder part. We know these are amazing caregivers. People that bring this incredible love for children with an orientation towards health and safety. But how can we share this knowledge with parents? How do we share what we know with the people who ultimately need to trust them?

That’s where we’re continually testing out new things. Detailed profiles or Facetime meetings or intro bookings or Open Houses. We’re open to new ideas but the heart of it is: how do we make the unknown known?

Childcare is probably the hardest business I’ve ever worked on (and I’ve worked on many) – even more than healthcare and food and packaged goods and groceries. Because ultimately we’re talking about trust. How we earn it. How we keep it.

It’s what our team obsesses over each day.

Because it’s the only way we’ll really ever solve childcare the way it needs to be solved. The way every family deserves it to be solved.