We caught up with Zarja Cibej, founder and CEO of myTamarin, to talk all things from helping working parents have the best childcare, to top tips for women looking to take the leap and start their own business…
Tell us about myTamarin.
myTamarin is your one-stop-shop for anything childcare!
We started out helping parents find the best nanny or newborn support for them. We match parents and nannies on both objective and subjective criteria — a bit like the dating world and match.com. This is so often neglected when it comes to childcare but we’re matching based on lifestyle, parenting style, family values and personality compatibility, as well as experience. We’re also using AI to enable our matching. Because of our emphasis on the subjective criteria, our placements typically last 2-3x longer than traditional agencies. We’re grounded in psychology and powered by technology.
Over the last year, myTamarin has become so much more. Now, we offer a virtual platform that offers transparency for both parents and nannies in the vetting, recruitment and onboarding processes and we take care of the HMRC (tax) compliance, payroll, pension, payments and legal processes as well as training and career management for nannies.
Also, we’ve evolved from childcare to parent care. We’re offering parents the support and tools they need to help them be their best selves for their children. I am very passionate about this and we have a lot of new things coming up.
How did you come up with the idea for myTamarin?
I’d never planned to work in childcare. But when I saw the problems in the market after having my own children, I simply couldn’t resist fixing it.
It wasn’t until I had my first baby that I realised exactly how broken the childcare market was. It was generally poorly served, technology starved and expensive, and I couldn’t seem to find a nanny that met my needs as a parent anywhere. So, as a natural problem solver, I took it upon myself to design a service that catered towards the needs of the parents, the children and the nannies too.
Childcare is so incredibly important for society at large. Solid childcare allows women to go back to work after they have children, it enables diversity in the workplace, and it helps close the gender pay gap.
It’s also important for the mental health of parents and children. Parenting is the only 24/7 job legally allowed to be done without breaks – not only for days, but for years! Help with children is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, hence our name: tamarins are monkeys that parent in groups, helping each other out with the children while they’re small.
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What obstacles do you think working parents face in childcare?
Unlike other jobs, parenting is a 24/7 commitment that lasts for years, and it’s not always easy to catch a break. In the past, parents would have had extended family members – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – to help out with child-rearing, but in modern society, parents are more likely to move away from these support circles for work. This can often mean that parents – especially women – have to give up their careers in order to look after their children.
This has become even more pronounced following the closures of schools and nurseries amidst the pandemic, with many now unsure how they’ll be able to balance work with childcare, especially over the upcoming summer months. With the nurseries that have reopened either operating at a reduced capacity, or hiking up their prices, or both, a lot of parents have found themselves in a really sticky situation.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start a business?
Do your best. Whatever you do, do it 100%, as mediocracy won’t get you anywhere. Cherish and learn from your mistakes and failures. Embrace them as gifts, learn from them, then move on. You cannot win without failing.
Also, fail fast. As soon as you notice that something isn’t working, change your strategy. See what you can do differently. Take what you can from your mistakes, and then move on.
Finally, sleep! Sleep is so, so important, I cannot stress this enough. While it can be tempting to work into the small hours of the morning – I’m certainly guilty of this sometimes – you find yourself completely drained of energy the next day and you’re so much less efficient. Why we sleep by Mathew Walker is one of those books that everyone should read.
What does the future hold for myTamarin?
We’ve been so busy since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic helping working parents whose nurseries and schools have closed sort out their childcare, and we will continue to support them — and nannies — through these challenging times.
We’re now also partnering with progressive employers who understand the value of childcare for working parents, and hence diversity at the workplace so that myTamarin childcare becomes part of the employee benefits packages. This could be a total game-changer – watch this space!